Interlude: Fueling for Feminism

I have the topic ready for the next Feminism in Action post and … it’s gonna be a doozie. Many of you are not going to want to complete the task and it’s going to be hard to push your way through. In the meantime, please fuel up with a delicious summer salad.

Pesto Quinoa Garbanzo Arugula Salad

Before I get started, it’s important to note that for all its recent fame and popularity, quinoa is a problematic food. The indigenous people who once relied on it as a staple (and had for centuries, since the beginning of cultivation) are, in some cases, being “priced out.” It’s not all bad news. When you buy it fair-trade, farmers can use the higher prices to add more diversity to their diet while still eating quinoa. Please buy it carefully like you would any other commodity that is hard on the people closest to the work of harvesting, e.g. coffee, bananas, chocolate, refined sugar, etc. I also think brown or arborio rice would be fine as a substitute here.

Serves 6 as a main course.

INGREDIENTS:

1.5 cups (10 ounces) dry quinoa
4 cups arugula (or kale, or spinach or other tough leafy green), chopped
2 15-16 oz cans of chickpeas (or 1 big can)
1.5 cups seedless cucumber, small dice
2-2.5 cups of halved small tomatoes (cherry, grape, etc.)
1 cup (packed) fresh mint leaves, chopped into very small pieces
1.5 cups crumbled feta (see note about vegan option below)
1/2 cup pesto (prepared or your own home-made)
1/4 cup oil (olive, canola, grapeseed – something light)
1 T red wine vinegar
2 T lemon juice
salt and black pepper

METHOD:

1. Cook quinoa as per instructions on package. If you bought it in bulk, here’s how I do it: heat a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat and add a little oil. When the pan is good and hot, add the quinoa until it is toasted (light brown and smells, well, toasty). Add enough water to cover, bring to a low boil. Cover, cook 18 minutes (or until tender, though quinoa will always be a bit chewy in texture). Drain. Set the quinoa aside to cool. You can make it the night before and put it in the fridge to speed up dinner-making on the night you’re eating it.

2. Add the pesto, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to a small plastic container with a cover. Put the cover on and shake everything vigorously.

3. Combine all the other ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the cooled quinoa. Re-shake the dressing and add slowly. Mix everything together. I like to serve this over mixed greens but that’s entirely optional.

Vegan ideas: most prepared pestos are made with cheese so look for a vegan one or make your own. My pal Micah recommends cashew cream as a good substitute for feta. I also think Didi Emmons’s tofu basil mash recipe (from her book, Vegetarian Planet, on sale at Powells for $6!) would be really delicious.

VOILA!

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