fresh quinoa lentil salad with rainbow radishes and lemony cumin dressing

some of my fondest childhood memories are of my family preparing for big dinner parties or celebrations. sometimes the preparations would begin days in advance, and i loved the buzz this created in the house. friends and family would come over to help, and it was a communal experience- women sitting around the table slicing and dicing vegetables, mincing herbs, preparing shrimp (i used to love watching as they carefully de-veined big bowls of them), looking at recipes, taste testing (this is where i came in), baking, mixing drinks, chatting, and laughing. there was always a lot of laughter, and that is what i remember the most-the giddy happiness that took over us all. the merriment rubbed off on us kids as we roamed around happily and begged to help-mostly we were given small duties like folding napkins or laying out the cutlery while what we really wanted to do was “play” with the food. i remember when my sister and i were given a rather big bowl of peas to shell, and asking for more when we were done-somehow we took such great pleasure in performing those simple tasks. sometimes my grandmothers would be asked to contribute their special dishes to the dinners, but i don’t ever remember any guests bringing food with them, which is why the concept of the “pot luck” dinner was so unfamiliar to me when i first came to california (i have come to embrace it). we often do a pot luck dinner at our monthly book club meetings, and to our amazement, without discussing what each of us is bringing, we always end up with a perfectly harmonized and balanced dinner (did i say delicious)? last night i brought a quinoa lentil salad which went perfectly with gitu’s indian chicken meatballs, margo’s spicy shrimp ceviche, and britton’s mache salad with papaya & goat cheese. don’t get me started on claire’s dessert: (out of this world) home made burnt honey ice cream with peaches in a verbena infused syrup….heavenly! (i’m hoping to get the recipe soon).
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup small green or black beluga lentils, cooked
  • 1 bunch organic rainbow radishes, thinly sliced (about10-12)
  • 2 heirloom medium tomatoes, finely cubed
  • 3-4 scallions thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch organic flat leaf parsley, finely chopped (about 1/4-1/2 cup)
  • 1 large or 2 small lemons (or limes), juiced
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (spicy)
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
1. cook the quinoa and lentils separately in lightly salted water. drain extra water, and seat aside to cool
2. chop the tomatoes, parsley, and scallions, and thinly slice the radishes (you can use a grater or a mandolin). add to a bowl with cold quinoa and lentils.
3. in a small bowl combine lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt, cayenne pepper, and cumin, whisk together, then pour over the ingredients and mix well.
quinoa lentil salad alongside gitu’s delicious indian chicken meatballs
margo’s lovely ceviche platter!
britton’s mache salad with papaya, goat cheese, & almonds: yum!


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favorite ingredients salad: herbed wild rice & quinoa with avocados, heirloom tomatoes, & strawberries

this delicious salad came about one day when inspired by reading Marcus Samuelson’s*  book “Yes, Chef!” (highly recommend it) i decided to be more courageous than usual and combine several of my favorite ingredients (in a slightly calculated yet random way) in a salad bowl, toss them together, cross my fingers, and hope for the best: a delicious salad that somehow tasted like it was absolutely meant to be: chewy (wild rice), slightly zesty (in a fresh citrus sort of a way), surprisingly creamy (thanks to the just ripe avocados), with hints of sweetness (ripe strawberries), spicy enough (red pepper flakes), super fresh, moderately “ethnic“(cumin!), and pretty good for you. add or subtract what you like, create your own favorite ingredients salad, or give this one a try…i think you might just like it!  
*below/right, a (not so attractive) picture of me with MS taken at his Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem!

favorite salad ingredients (4 servings or so):
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup wild rice (cook in ligtly salted water until just tender)
  • 1/2 cup quinoa (cooked in lightly salted water)
  • 2 just ripe avocados, sliced
  • 1-2 large heirloom tomato, sliced
  • 10-12 ripe organic strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • small bunch of fresh mint, shredded (about 1/4 cup)
  • small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • juice of 1/2 freshly squeezed lemon (2 tbs)
  • 3-4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • (whisk together)
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