You're Invited! (Bring A Dish...)
The month of July is “High Summer”. Farmer’s Markets are bursting with the best seasonal offerings, the sun shines well into the evening, people are out and about and the memories of a cold harsh winter have finally faded. It is the perfect time to gather folks together. In my part of the South, July may be hot—even scorching, but a family reunion, a potluck with friends or a neighborhood block party will always draw a crowd. It is a cooperative event and the invitees are asked to bring a dish to share. The group as a whole may pitch in to purchase hamburgers and hotdogs, or even a whole hog if you’ve been invited to a Southern pig-pickin’! If it is a New England clambake on the beach, you can bet I will be the first one there! Bring your own chairs and a cooler full of your favorite beverages. Hopefully, there will be a pop-up tent or two, making a shady spot to beat the heat. I get excited when the folding tables start to fill up with a variety of bowls and platters and baskets. A true feast is at hand and, like at Thanksgiving, it’s all about the sides! I have two dishes that are my potluck staples. Curried Quinoa Salad and Black-Eyed Pea Salad. They are easy to prepare, requiring minimal cooking. They are perfect served at room temperature, so they transport and hold well no matter where you gather. A big bonus to these dishes is that they are loaded with summer veggies and herbs and 100% vegan. Your vegetarian and vegan friends will thank you for increasing their options for delicious feasting. So, gather your friends together this summer. It’s time to party! You’re invited----bring a dish!
CURRIED QUINOA SALAD FOR A CROWD
Makes 16-18 half cup servings
3 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed
2 bunches green onions
2 green peppers, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
¾ cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped walnuts (may substitute almonds or pecans)
¾ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup white wine vinegar
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup sugar
2 Tablespoons curry powder
2-3 Tablespoons minced garlic (or to taste)
For the Dressing:
Whisk together in a small bowl (alternately, shake in a jar with a lid) the vinegar, olive oil, sugar, curry powder and garlic. Set aside, whisking or shaking several times while you prepare the rest of the salad. This will help to infuse and develop the flavors.
For the Quinoa:
Rinse the quinoa in a mesh strainer under cool, running water for about a minute. This will remove the natural coating of saponin, which some say has a slightly bitter or soapy taste. This step is optional if the quinoa is labeled as pre-rinsed.
In a large saucepan, bring 3 and ¾ cups of water to a boil. Season water with 1 teaspoons salt (or to taste). Add the quinoa, stir, cover saucepan and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer quinoa for 18-20 minutes or until water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy. Allow quinoa to cool slightly. (If after simmering for 20 minutes there is still water remaining in the saucepan, remove from heat and keep lid on for an additional 10 minutes.)
To Prepare Salad:
Mix cooled quinoa with onions, peppers, celery, cranberries and walnuts. Mix in chopped parsley. Pour dressing over all and mix well. Chill if not serving immediately. May be stored and served at room temperature if desired.
BLACK-EYED PEA SALAD
The best part of this salad is that you can add or subtract vegetables to your liking, substitute your favorite bottled dressing, or use chick peas or cannellini beans in place of black-eyed peas.
Ingredients for the salad:
Black-eyed peas: either 2 15 oz. cans, drained and rinsed, or 3 cups fresh (find in produce section), or 2 cups dried (wash dried peas thoroughly and simmer 15 minutes in water 2 inches higher than level of peas. Start testing firmness at 12 mins. Drain and rinse under cold water. They will be tender but firm, like fresh. Best for this dish.)
2 bell peppers, chopped (Red, yellow, orange, green or a mix. I love to mix!)
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
½ red onion (or to your taste), chopped
Fresh herbs (basil, parsley, dill or a mix)
Optional vegetables: Green onion, radish, fresh jalapeno, cucumber, corn kernels, green peas, (fresh blanched or frozen thawed) chopped tomato or small cherry tomatoes, halved….the sky is the limit!
Mix everything together in a large bowl. Toss with your favorite vinaigrette or try my recipe:
Ingredients for Kathy’s Vinaigrette Dressing:
1-2 clove(s) garlic, finely minced or grated
1-2 teaspoons sugar, or to taste
1 Tablespoon fennel seed, chopped
1-2 teaspoons dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup red wine vinegar (may substitute cider vinegar)
1/3 cup olive oil
Put all ingredients in a small jar with a lid and shake, shake, shake! Alternately, whisk everything in a bowl and pour over black-eyed peas and veggies.
I like to make the dressing first, leave it on the counter and shake it every time I think of it while preparing the rest of the salad. This dressing is also great for tossed salad, quinoa salad, etc.