Friday, August 12, 2011

Summer Caprese Quinoa Salad and First Kisses

Thank god for other food bloggers who inspire me to try new things or put ingredients together that I may have forgotten about. I somehow wandered over to Food Blog and the Dog this week and was really inspired by all of the fantastic vegetarian dishes they have put up. They are cooking up some seriously delicious food over there in Spain. After spending about a half hour on their site, I quickly wished I was 16 again, wandering the beaches of Calafell.

Spain was where I had my first kiss from a boy who rode 10 miles on his bike to see me. My first salty taste of jamon serrano was in Spain as well the tasting of a myriad of other cured cheeses and meats.  Spain was where I had way too much fun, and did little learning (from books that is) and lots of dreaming.  Or maybe please just let me return to being a young woman of 20 years of age, eating morel and rabbit stew while visiting my friends outside Barcelona. Just leave me at 20, living in an old flat in the heart of Madrid, no heat....bad windows and an electric socket in the bathroom that would guarantee you a stinger of a shock at least once during the week. 

I'm not speaking of the flat that I was kicked out of. Yes.... I was kicked out. (that is so unlike me now) I threw a party at a flat I was renting and a 'few' to many people arrived. Do you know any Spaniards? They love to party, especially if you fall in between the ages of 19 and 26.  The real kicker was the fact that my boyfriend at the time,  handsome Javier, had a bit of a panic attack in the tiny little elevator (you Europeans know what I mean by tiny) as the elevator stopped between floors. This was poor timing for the elevator to stop as it was at least 1 o'clock in the morning. Handsome Javier broke out in a cold sweat, began swearing up a storm and went into a full blown panic pressing the alarm button incessantly. The maddening alarm woke one of the neighbors, who was not pleased to find two punch drunk kids stuck in their elevator. At that moment, Javier then turned to me and said...I have a terrible fear of elevators! Next time.... take the stairs! I really couldn't fault him as he did come over and make me crepes with gruyere and jamon quite often.

I moved on to another flat, located on Calle Raimundo Fernandez Villaverde. I grew accustomed to bomb threats on the subway, taxi strikes that would shut down the city, and starting my night out by drinking 'some' loosen up my Spanish of course. I ended up living with an Italian named Alberto, a Spaniard named Miaram, and an odd chimney smoking gentleman who wrote for Hola magazine. I'm not sure 'odd' sums it up as he swore off sleeping at night, for fear of bad spirits and would occasionally show Miriam and I the lingerie he would purchase for his girlfriend...weird... eh? I am still wondering if his "girlfriend" was just not a figment of his imagination as we never saw her once.... all year.  Alberto was the fun one in the house. He was such a sweetheart and had adorable friends. I went out with them as much as possible as they always seemed to know where the best party was. It was hard not to crush on all of his each one was cuter than the next. Unfortunately Alberto was smitten with a woman twice his age and carried on a torrent affair through plentiful phone calls and lusty letters.

I have never had run ins with the police here in the states, yet in Spain..I was caught in tear gas, threatened several times, told I was too loud...(who me?) and even filed a report with the police against some young boys who decided to attack our group while camping in the Pyranees. I guess with all the fun and drama I had while in Spain, a little danger went with it. If my mother is reading this, I probably shouldn't mention the older, traveling, Colombian business man (30 years plus) who through a bumpy flight from Paris and a wait-out at the airport during a 10 hour taxi strike gave him permission to invite a much younger woman to his hotel room....At that moment I could hear my mother's voice in my head calling out.....warning, danger, warning, danger..... I just let him pay for my cab and then hoped I would never run into him again!

I call this post... pure writing for purely personal pleasure.  It is fun to remember those first kisses and everything else that comes with young love..... Where where you when you first kissed your adorable crush and had that rush of tingles up and down your spine?

Back to the salad at hand. Thank you Food Blog and the Dog for stirring my creative veggie urge!

Summer Caprese Salad with Fresh Mozzerlla

2 cups quinoa
1 red onion - chopped small
2 TBS olive oil, extra for dressing the salad
2 TBS balsamic vinegar
4 cups veggie broth
2 large balls of fresh mozz.
loads of fresh basil
1/2 cup raw fresh pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste
6-8 roma tomatoes if roasting (optional) or 3 medium heirloom tomatoes fresh.

1) Bring quinoa and vegetable broth to a boil. Let simmer on low for 20 minutes. It takes about as long as white rice. Turn off, keep cover on.
2) While quinoa is cooking, caramelize the onions in 2 TBS olive oil and salt.
3) In cast iron pan or other heavy pan, toast the pine nuts. These can burn very quickly, so keep an eye on them and keep them moving in the pan. Set aside.
3)  Place quinoa in large bowl and fluff with fork. Add onions to the mix, toss again. Add balsamic vinegar to taste and about two TBS olive oil. Add salt and fresh black pepper to taste. Toss again.
4) Take a large handful of fresh basil, chop very fine and toss into quinoa.
5) Tear apart the mozzarella into bite size pieces and toss into the salad.
6) If using roasted tomatoes, arrange on platter and place quinoa salad on top. Top entire salad with fresh basil and pine nuts. If using fresh tomatoes, sliced thinly and layer on platter, top with quinoa and sprinkle with pine nuts and basil. 

This is a beautiful dish when plated up. Perfect for a pot luck or serve for supper with fresh crostini and a nice pinto grigio. 

Back to the kisses..... where where you for that first real kiss? 
loads of kisses and delicious food! Megan


  1. This is gorgeous! What a great read this was...I couldn't stop reading :-D

  2. What a gorgeous salad, this looks delicious! :)

  3. 1. Had no idea you lived in Spain? I lived there for just over a month a few years ago, right in Madrid (cerca de plaza de toros).

    2. This post was fabulous. It's like reading about your alter ego!

    3. This dish looks delish! I think I'll have to make it sometime :)

  4. What a great salad! What a great post to read! Have a wonderful weekend!

  5. What wonderful stories you shared with us! I love reminiscing about all my European adventures and shenanigans, too :-) The salad looks wonderful!

  6. I love your stories! What an awesome life experience (except for getting used to bomb threats). And I love caprese salads, but they are never quite filling enough. This quinoa dish will give me the flavor I want with the full stomach I need.

  7. Enjoyed reading your post. Great looking salad and photos. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm following you now.

  8. You certainly have had some adventurous experience in life ;-)
    The salad looks scrumpy!

  9. Such a sweet post and a beautiful salad.

  10. Love the salad, and the travel memories. They are fun, eh? And sometimes better left un-told:)

  11. Not purely personal pleasure .... many readers pleasure too :-} Love the bit of history!

    Salad looks great too.

  12. Oh Megan and her (prior) wicked ways. When I studied abroad - I wrote quiet postcards home...

    I love quinoa. I love Caprese-anything. And why oh why have I never put it together? Absolutely inspired!

  13. I love Caprese salads, I think they are my favorite summer salad! I also love quinoa, I am going to have to make this!

  14. That salad looks really good, thanks for sharing.

  15. What fun memories, and what an amazing looking salad!!

  16. Yes, I am very thankful to all those super blogger out there. I have tried so many new & fabulous food for the past 2 years. I also managed to get some really nice & wonderful spices from all of them. My life is getting more & more exciting each day. Btw, what is bourbon vanilla? Is it some kind of flavouring liquid or cream or sauce?


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