This gardening season is going to be like no other in my life! I’m just thrilled to have secured a spot in one of the many community gardens here in Fort Collins, Colorado.
By the time I got over to the gardens to really check out my plot, shovel, rake, gardening gloves and a desire to dig and sweat fully formulated, I was floored! So much was already growing I was sure the 10X15 square foot space had been double booked.
There was nearly a garden-full of arugula, plus big healthy pea plants, radishes, cilantro, endive and lettuce! However at that point I was dismayed, and called the coordinator. She got back with me the next day, and lo and behold, all of it must have volunteered over the fall, winter and early spring – and it was mine! So over I went to dig and prepare the plot for planting, and pull up many, many arugula plants that I just couldn’t keep growing.
Soon after, my son made Mother’s Day an absolute joy, helping me pick out a wagon full of vegetable and herb plants and seeds at the nursery, then helping me plant them. 😊
We had a huge snow storm here – you may have heard about it – but luckily I covered the tender nursery starts the day before it hit, and everything came through pretty well. No snow pics of the garden – EVERYTHING appeared flattened, that wasn’t covered – including these plants below, but it all bounced back. Thank you, Pachamama.
I was invited to attend a little pre-screening potluck before my friend’s documentary focus group showing last night. What to bring? Something incorporating early goods from the garden …
Of course! There was plenty of endive, and I was reminded of an amazing grilled radicchio salad I’d had years ago in Boston, at Biba, Lydia Shire’s excellent restaurant.
But in my pantry, I had a few different ingredients that seemed to want to play together. So, a little twist. I would marinate and grill the endive, and let those glorious flavors mingle together in a quinoa salad with dried cherries and almonds.
Your kitchen will smell HEAVENLY if you make this salad, this I promise you.
Grilled Endive and Quinoa Salad with Dried Sour Cherries and Toasted Almonds
- 1 c. quinoa
- 1 gallon sized bag of curly endive leaves, picked over and washed, patted dry
- 1/2 a medium onion, thinly sliced
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- salt (hickory smoked salt is definitely worth seeking out)
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 c. dried montmorency (sour) cherries
- 1 1/2 – 2 c. chopped toasted almonds
- fresh herbs such as dill, thyme or basil
In a medium saucepan, place uncooked quinoa and 2 cups of water, bring to a boil, then turn heat to low, cover, and let simmer until tender and fluffy, about 20-25 minutes. Fluff with fork and add to large bowl to cool.
Meanwhile, in a 9 X 13 pan, add endive leaves, then drizzle a few tablespoons olive oil and balsamic vinegar over. Salt and pepper to taste, then toss with tongs. Heat indoor grill pan or outdoor grill between medium and medium high heat. Add good sized handfuls of the marinated endive leaves and the onion, and allow a minute or two for them to grill before turning with tongs. You may like to flip your stove hood fan on as you drink in the absolutely intoxicating, lovely fragrance. Remove from the grill when they are limp – not more then 3-4 minutes, if that. Grill all your endive and onion, then add to quinoa in bowl, along with cherries and almonds. Toss to mix evenly, then add in your fresh herbs of choice – maybe 3-4 tablespoons chopped.
The rich flavor of the bitter greens blended with the balsamic marinade is heady and delightful! You won’t be able to stop yourself, from trying a few little bundles of grilled greens.
When it’s time for dinner, serve, as always, with a big spoon and smile.