Quinoa Black Bean Salad with Chipotle-Tahini Dressing

Wow! Has it really been three months since we’ve posted on here? As everyone else jaunts off on world travels and family trips, we are here, waiting for our little boy to arrive. (It’s so weird to write that still!)

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A photo by our amazing friend Kelli, of Kelli-GO Photo, at 33 weeks.

I’m 38 weeks today, and expect him to come anytime from any day now to four weeks from now. This waiting time is kind of weird: we’re two, we’re about to be three, and we know that our lives are about to be irrevocably changed forever. What now is a series of kicks and pushes, and imaginations will all of a sudden be real, without pause, without a chance to absorb it all. We’ll just be thrown into it. But we’re excited–beyond, excited really–to see what this creature is like, what he becomes, and what we’ll learn from him. What an adventure.

Have I mentioned our friends are amazing? Courtesy of Kelli-GO Photo.

Have I mentioned our friends are amazing? Courtesy of Kelli-GO Photo.

We’ve felt so loved and supported, by you all, by our amazing friends–from two amazing baby showers, to the advice, porch sitting, emails, and calls–we feel so, so lucky to be bringing a child into this particular community. And while we wait, we’ve been in major nesting mode–tearing down a pergola, painting the house, setting up the nursery, and cooking tons of food for the freezer. We’ve also inexplicably signed ourselves up for lots and lots of social outings, which inevitably also come with the end of the school year and the beginning of Spring, so I decided to write up this quinoa salad recipe, of which there are a million variations, just because it’s easy and good, and it was the only way I’d have a recipe with an actual photo to post here! I added the chipotle last minute, as I thought it needed a little kick, but of course, you can leave it out, and/or add feta or any number of different veggies or types of beans to the mix. It serves a ton of people, is great for lunch or a picnic, and is healthy.

Enjoy! And I’ll keep you all posted if you keep me posted! xoxo

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Quinoa Black Bean Salad with Chipotle-Tahini Dressing

  • 2 C. white or red quinoa
  • 1/4 C. olive oil
  • 1.5 C. frozen white sweet corn, or fresh corn off the cob
  • 3 C. (or about 2 cans) cooked black beans
  • 3 carrots, grated
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 C. tahini
  • ~1/4 C. or so apple cider vinegar or lime juice
  • water
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp. ground chipotle chile powder
  • Optional: small bunch of cilantro or chives, chopped

Cook the quinoa in lots of salted water for ~15 minutes, or until done. Drain and toss with olive oil plus a splash of cider vinegar or lime juice. While quinoa is still hot, toss with the frozen or fresh corn. When it cools down to room temperature, add in the black beans, carrot, green onions, and tomatoes.

Stir the tahini and the vinegar or lime juice together until the tahini breaks down into a thick white paste. Add the chipotle, salt to taste, and enough water to make it dressing consistency. Taste and add more vinegar, water, or salt to taste. Toss the quinoa mixture with the dressing, adding extra olive oil or vinegar if it seems too dry. Top with the optional cilantro or chives, if desired. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

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Winter Soup: Sausage, White Bean and Kale

The weather in Basel has been grey, cold and rainy.  Although the temperatures aren’t anywhere near what we experienced in Hanover, I still am yearning for a glimpse of sun.  At least the the weather isn’t  stopping us from enjoying the full range of festivals Basel has in store. We enjoyed dozens of rides for the fall festival, Herbestmesse.  We got completely drenched with friends, but felt like we were kids again enjoying the gluhwein, brautwursts and cheesy bread. Granted I got totally motion sick at the end of the night…now we’re waiting for the Christmas markets to charm the city center.

The only other excitement with the weather turning is that we are in soup season again!  There is nothing better than having a hot pot of soup just steaming and reducing on your stove.  This recipe is one of my favorite soups because it’s hearty and really flavorful.  I also love kale and finally found some at the French markets.

Ingredients:

– 1 garlic clove (minced)

– 1 dried red pepper (chopped)

– 4 shallots (minced)

– 2 onions (minced)

– olive oil

– 2 sausages (I like to get merguez or something flavored. They had fennel ones at the store, which were delicious – chopped)

– 4 Cups Chicken Broth

– Parmesan rind

– 2 bay leaves

– 10 stalks of kale (chopped)

– Salt and pepper to taste

– 1 can of white beans

Directions:

– Heat olive oil in a pot (preferably a Le Creuset-like pot) and when hot toss in onions, shallots, garlic and chili. Saute until onions are translucent

– Place in sausage and brown the sausage. You want to get a nice brown base at the bottom of the pot.

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See the brown?!

– Pour in chicken stock and degalze (very important to make sure you get a good soup base)

– Bring to a boil adding in the bay leaves and parmesan rind

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– Turn the heat down low to reduce for an hour or so

– Remove bay leaves and what’s left of the rind and add kale and white beans

– Bring back to a boil and serve to beat those winter blues away!

– Optional garnish: parmesan cheese and parsley

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Beans and Greens with Garlic and Breadcrumbs

It’s been a pretty faux-winter here so far in New England (knock on wood).  Still, even with the lack of snow late February can be tricky, culinarily speaking.  Not quite deep winter, where you crave hibernation fare.  But not yet early spring, where the days get a little longer and you can actually find produce at the store that’s not a root vegetable.

When I got home the other day, I was craving something green.  But who am I kidding?  It was (sort of) cold, and I also wanted something warm and crunchy, and maybe even a little bit cheesy.

One of my favorite cold weather recipes is this one from the New York Times.  Broccoli rabe is, in my opinion, an under appreciated green, and it tastes great mixed with browned chips of garlic and the bite of the red pepper flakes.  But since spring is (maybe) just around the corner , I decided to lighten the preparation a bit: use Panko breadcrumbs and toss these greens with chickpeas instead of pasta.  It was the perfect compromise for the in-between days of waning winter. And it’s a good canvas for variations.  I imagine it would be quite tasty with a different green, or thrown over pasta, quinoa, or rice.

Beans and Greens with Garlic and Panko Breadcrumbs

  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe
  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • salt and parmesan cheese to taste

Rinse the can of chickpeas.  Pour them into an oiled skillet and fry them on medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep them from sticking.  They should become browned and slightly crunchy.  (And they actually make a really good snack on their own tossed with salt and pepper.  But this time, try to conserve them for use later on in the recipe.)

While those are cooking, peel the garlic cloves and slice lengthwise into thin “chips”.  Lightly fry in the remaining olive oil on medium-high heat, flipping to allow them to cook on each side.  When they have browned (4-8 minutes), add the breadcrumbs and red pepper flakes, sautee for 1-2 more minutes, then take off the heat.

Boil 4 cups of water.  Rinse the broccoli rabe, and cut or tear into 1-2 inch pieces.  When the water boils, lightly salt it and drop in the rabe.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Then pull the rabe out with a slotted spoon.  Reserve 1/3 cup of the cooking water.

When the greens, chickpeas, and garlic mixture are all prepared, combine in the large skillet with the cooking water and heat for 1-2 minutes.  Finish with salt and parmesan to taste. Enjoy!