Friday, August 2, 2013

Tiger Salad

When we were in Vancouver, we hit up a lot of coffee places. but we didn't always have time to eat at all those raved-about restaurants. We did make a list, but sometimes, stuff got in the way. Lunch was more often than not, peanut butter and banana sandwiches eaten during a long out-of-city hike or biking trip, and breakfast was usually cereal with a healthy helping of local berries purchased at a farmer's market. Dinner, well, that was where we got to experiment a little. But sometimes, we were just too exhausted. We sometimes ate take-out or walked a couple blocks and ate at a little Asian-style cafe, and once, we were so tired that we *gasp* ordered pizza.

Buuuuuuuuut, we did get to go out a bit and when we did, it was usually quite awesome. One of my favourite places that we ate at in Vancouver, was from a food truck called Le Tigre. We sampled almost all of the menu, including a pulled pork bao, popcorn chicken, crispy, lemony-parmesany brussels sprouts and cauliflower, amazingly addictive roasted beet fries and the most refreshing, filling, flavourful quinoa salad ever.

This quinoa salad was amazing. First, not only did it have quinoa, but there was brown and wild rice thrown into the mix, along with sweet roasted carrots and parsnips, crunchy cabbage, lots of fresh mint and a rich, tangy miso dressing. Since discovering the joys of miso not so long ago, I had to try making this salad at home.

My version is summered up a bit. I used roasted yellow zucchini and eggplant, some thinly sliced celery for a big crunch, and some left over blanched green beans, just because. I threw in lots of fresh mint and also a big hit of purple basil. And the dressing .. oh the dressing. Just a few teaspoons of white miso and big juicy lemon, but oh, the flavour was so big and bold. Because the miso is so intense there's no salt added to the rest of the salad, just a few big grinds of black pepper. And don't worry if the dressing tastes a little too zippy and salty when you try it -- all that lovely rice and quinoa soaks it all up. And while this salad isn't an exact replica of the one we ate from the truck, sitting by the Lonsdale quay and enjoying a perfect evening after hiking all day, it's pretty darn satisfying in it's own right.

Quinoa Rice Salad with Roasted Summer Veggies
inspired by Le Tigre
makes 3-4 servings

For the roasted veggies:
1 large, yellow zucchini, diced
1 small eggplant, diced
1 tablespoon or so of olive oil

a few grinds of black pepper

1. In a large bowl, toss the veggies with the olive oil and black pepper. Spread them out on a making sheet.
2. Roast (oven on broil), tossing occasionally for about 15-20 minutes, until the veggies get nicely golden brown and tender.

While the veggies are roasting, make the rest of the salad:

1/4 cup of brown rice + 1/4 cup of wild rice + 1 cup of water
1/3 cup of quinoa + 2/3 cup of water
1 large stalk of celery, sliced thinly
a small handful of green beans, trimmed
2 teaspoons of white miso
juice of a lemon
lots of freshly ground black pepper
a big handful each of fresh mint and basil, chopped roughly

1. First, cook your grains. Mix together the brown and wild rice with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn down the heat. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Same for the quinoa -- 1/3 cup of quinoa and 2/3 cup of water.

2. Blanch the green beans in water for about 2 minutes, or until they're tender. Cut them in half and put them in large bowl.

3. To the bowl, add in your cooked grains, roasted veggies, sliced celery and black pepper. Toss well.

4. Make your dressing! Carefully whisk together the miso and lemon juice until you get a creamy yummy sauce. Pour it over your salad and add the fresh herbs. Toss well and serve!

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