Walking through this city with friends or family from other places always helps me see and appreciate my home with fresh eyes. My parents spent last weekend with us, and we did what Sutherlands do best – spent time cooking, eating, and shopping for the next cooking/eating experience. It’s what we do.
When my parents visit, I choose a Chicago neighborhood for a day of casual exploration, peeking into any shop that looks interesting and hitting a few of my favorite foodie haunts. This year, I decided it was high-time I took Mom & Dad to Old Town.
Old Town is both hip and cozy, so far as city ‘hoods go. There’s lots of interesting little boutiques, but the highlights for me are a trio of shops where my wallet seems to empty of its own accord, without my noticing or caring what the total tab comes to. Old Town Oil, The Spice House and Fleet Feet Sports are snuggled up together on Wells Street, with another favorite foodie spot, Adobo Grill right next door. It’s two blocks of heaven for me.
The ladies at Old Town Oil can always talk me into another bottle of oil or vinegar, and the gleaming casks free for sampling make it an easy sale…this trip I walked out with spicy Harissa oil – not knowing exactly what I wanted to do with it, just knowing that I HAD to have it.
We’ve since decided that the killer application for this spicy treat is to brush it on some fresh, farm stand sweet corn with a sprinkling of sea salt…the contrast of the HOT oil with the sweet kernels popping against my teeth may be my favorite summer treat so far. I think you should definitely have a bottle of this oil in your pantry.
The quinoa salad uses some harissa oil which plays beautifully against the curried quinoa and the orange juice in the vinaigrette gives it just a hint of sweetness to bring it back from the fiery brink. Toss in whatever summer veggies you have lingering in the crisper – don’t get hung up on the list below – use what you’ve got. The salad is light and filling enough for a perfect summer picnic.
Harissa Curried Quinoa Salad
1 1/2 cups dried quinoa
3 cups water
1 T hot curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup dried chickpeas, cooked (or 1 can chickpeas)
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced,
1 jalepeno, finely diced
4 ears fresh sweet corn, cooked & sliced off the cob
handful of cilantro, chopped
fennel fronds, chopped (optional – I just had some on hand)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (from 1-2 oranges)
1/4 cup harissa olive oil (or a spoonful of harissa paste + reg olive oil)
1 T whole grain mustard
salt to taste
- Cook the quinoa in your rice cooker (or on the stove), with 3 cups water, 1 T hot curry powder and 1/2 tsp salt. When the quinoa is done, scoop it into a large mixing bowl and fluff it with a fork. Let it cool to room temperature.
- To make the salad, chop all of the peppers, slice the corn off the cob, chop the cilantro & fennel fronds (if using), and add them to the cooled quinoa along with the rinsed and drained chickpeas. Gently stir everything together with a spatula.
- Make the dressing. Squeeze the oranges into a measuring cup until you have a 1/2 cup of juice. Pour in 1/4 cup of harissa olive oil (or 1/4 cup regular olive oil + a spoonful or two of harissa paste) and a good dollop of whole grain mustard and whisk together with a fork. Add salt to taste – the dressing should be pretty highly seasoned, as it will be flavoring the whole vat of salad. Pour the dressing over the quinoa mixture and gently stir together with a spatula. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve, or scoop into storage containers for lots of great lunch leftovers!
314 cal per 1 1/2 cups, 11g fat, 150mg sodium, 450mg potassium, 46g carbs, 8g fiber, 3g sugars, 10g protein
Sunday morning Sunrise from our balcony before breakfast with my parents…another reason I love my home.