Green Plum Cooking School – Sat., April 10th
You might have heard me chant this mantra before: What Grows Together, Goes Together. Another of my mantras (this one from my old Boulevard Bistrot days) is Diversity is the Mother of Invention. I’m not sure that either statement could hit home with my class any more than it did on this Saturday.
I am sure you are familiar with the classic Middle Eastern tabouli salad made with bulgur and lots of parsley, mint, tomato, lemon juice and olive oil. Well, instead of doing that I am using what I have — which is red quinoa and beets. Quinoa is a super food: it has all eight essential amino acids, which makes it a complete protein. Pretty cool for a grass! Everyone thinks quinoa is a grain (because it eats like one) but it’s really a relative of beets, spinach, Swiss chard, and lamb’s quarters. But you can cook and use it just like a grain; we cook it for about 15 minutes, just like pasta. You have to rinse or soak it prior to cooking because it is coated with something called Saponin. Saponin has a purpose in nature — its bitterness repels insects and birds to protect the grass while it is growing. While Lisa is telling us all about quinoa, I am wondering what purpose my bitterness serves.
While the quinoa is boiling, I work on the beets (these have already been boiled for about 45 minutes to 1 hour). You know beets are ready when the skins come off easily as you rub it with your fingernail. I choose not to wear gloves to peel the beets to make a statement. Many of my customers have what I call family of origin beet trauma. Someone at some time made you eat a beet, probably a canned one at that, and you just didn’t, and still don’t, like them. In fact, you hate them! You think they taste dirty. And you certainly don’t want to get dirty (or pink as it is with me) from working with beets. But, if you do like them, typically you ask me to prep them for you anyway.