Wednesday, January 07, 2009


One of M.'s new year's resolutions was to "Eat more alternative grains!" He said this with gusto while enjoying a bowl of farro soup at Chez Panisse. His resolution may or may not have been an attempt to one-up me. I had just proclaimed my resolve to eat more farro in 2009. Farro is a grain I find seductive in for its shape, nuttiness and texture, and for inexplicable reasons, it is far more available and cheaper in San Francisco than it was in Portland. I have dreams of a full for seasons full of farro goodness. Despite my resolution, I have yet to cook farro in the new year. I have been sticking close to home, nesting a bit, thinking a lot. There have been books and piles of hand-washed sweaters and newly whitened sheets. A new year is a new start, right?

But I did embrace alternative grains by making Beans and Quinoa with Beets and Avocado last night. It is a lovely and colorful dish from the new Rancho Gordo Bean cookbook. Ultimately it is less a deep winter meal than it is a spring or summer dish. But I had all the ingredients and was craving color and healthy vegetables. This hit the spot and I am very much looking forward to the leftovers.

Beans & Quinoa with Beets & Avocado (adapted from the new Rancho Gordo Cookbook)
Serves 4 to 6
5 small beets
extra virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
1/2 cup quinoa
3 cups well drained, cooked Christmas lima bean, warmed slightly (I used black eyed peas left from New Year's and it was delicious! But use dried beans not canned -- it will be better.)
1/2 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 avocado

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400. Scrub the beets and dry them. Put in a medium bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap the beets in aluminum foil packages putting like sized beets together and roast until tender, about 45 minutes. When beets are cool enough to handle, skip off the skins with your fingers. Cut the beets into 1/4 inch thick wedges & place in a large bowl.

Rinse the quinoa under cold running water. Bring a medium saucepan of generously salted water to a boil. Add the quinoa, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the quinoa is fluffy but still crunchy, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and rinse quickly under cool water. Drain well and add to the beets.

Add the beans and onion to the bowl. Cut the avocado in to chunks and toss with beans, onion & quinoa.

Make the dressing by whisking together lemon juice, vinegar and honey. Drizzle in the olive oil in a thin, steady stream, whisking continuously until the dressing comes together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour the dressing over the salad, toss, adjust the seaonings, and serve.

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