Fennel and Leeks

Fennel and Leeks

Friday, August 24, 2012

Quinoa and Grilled Sourdough Salad

Photo Courtesy of Brad Lovejoy

This past week was like old times! Three recipes in one week....... I haven't been this diligent in months. I was driven to post so many recipes because we hosted backyard barbecues five out of seven nights. We were able to feed friends and family and I must say, it was my favorite summer week thus far.

For our fifth night of barbecuing, we hosted my in-laws. Instead of preparing another recipe that involves grilling, Brad ran up to Metropolitan Market and purchased prepared Kalbi Beef Kebabs and Chicken Vegetable Kebabs. I spent my Sunday morning perusing the West Seattle Farmer's Market and ended up purchasing Vegan Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho from  a local company called Got Soup? that I served as a starter and organic vegetables for the following Quinoa and Grilled Sourdough Salad recipe.

1/4 cup quinoa
4 slices sourdough bread
1/3 cup olive oil, plus extra to brush bread
4 ripe medium tomatoes
3 small cucumbers, unpeeled
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
4 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped mint
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp lemon juice
3/4 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 small garlic cloves
black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place quinoa in saucepan of boiling water and cook for 9 minutes, or until tender. Drain in fine sieve, rinse under cold water and leave to dry.

Brush bread with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Lay slices on baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, turning them over halfway through. Bread should be completely dry and crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool, then break by hand into different-sized pieces.

Cut tomatoes into roughly 3/4-inch dice and put in mixing bowl. Cut cucumbers into similar-size pieces and add to tomatoes. Add remaining ingredients, including quinoa and croutons, and stir gently until everything is mixed together well. Taste and adjust seasoning.

This recipe was thoroughly enjoyable. The best way I can describe it is to say that the best parts of  panzanella salad and vegetable quinoa salad collided. The vegetables were fresh and crunchy, the bread was flavorful and the quinoa provided a lovely nuttiness and a textural pop. The herbs were beautiful and they worked perfectly with the acidity from the lemon juice and vinegar. If you are looking for a side dish to accompany barbecued protein, this is a great candidate. I would also prepare it as a main course but I would double the amount of quinoa to provide additional protein. Enjoy!

Recipe Source:
"Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi" by Yotam Ottolenghi
Page 128

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Foil-Wrapped Baby Back Ribs

Photo Courtesy of Brad Lovejoy

My dad's birthday was this past week and we were fortunate enough to get a visit from him over the weekend. We felt an even stronger desire than usual to celebrate this year because he just cleared his one year check-up after having a stem cell transplant. We are so very proud of how hard he has fought over the past few years and we were thrilled to celebrate both his birthday and his health.

It is no secret that I have very little interest in eating any type of meat on the bone. I guess I have always thought of it as animalistic and messy. I must take this opportunity to admit how much I have missed out on due to my lack of interest. After preparing and eating one of my dad's favorite foods for his birthday, barbecued ribs, I am officially converted. I am now able to eat meat on the bone as long as it tastes as good as these ribs tasted. This recipe for Foil-Wrapped Baby Back Ribs was so delicious, that it has officially made it into my top ten favorite recipes featured on this blog. The ribs melted in our mouths and the flavor was amazing. I can't say enough about using this foil method to tenderize the meat before grilling the ribs over an open flame. For those of you that boil your ribs before grilling, I urge you to try this method. You will be wowed by the result.


1 Tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp granulated garlic
2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 racks baby back ribs, each 2 to 2 1/2 lbs
1 cup hickory wood chips, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes (we used mesquite chips)
1 cup prepared barbecue sauce

Prepare grill for direct cooking over medium heat; 350 to 450 degrees. Mix rub ingredients in small bowl. Remove membrane from back of each rack of ribs. Cut each rack crosswise in middle to create two smaller racks. Season each half rack evenly with rub. Using eight 18" by 24" sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil, double wrap each half rack in its own packet.

Brush cooking grates clean. Place ribs on grill over direct medium heat and cook for one hour, with lid closed, occasionally turning packets over for even cooking, http://http://swinerymeats.com/.com/ sure not to pierce foil. Remove packets from grill and let rest for 10 minutes. Carefully open foil packets, remove ribs and discard rendered fat and foil.

Drain and add wood chips directly onto burning coals or to smoker box of gas grill (we have a Weber gas grill with built-in smoker box), following manufacturer's instructions. When wood begins to smoke, return ribs to grill, bone side down. Grill over direct medium heat, with lid closed as much as possible, until they are sizzling and slightly charred, 10 to 12 minutes, turning and basting once or twice with sauce. Remove from grill and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut into individual ribs and serve warm with any remaining sauce.

Brad did a wonderful job executing the barbecue process for this recipe. He also chose to purchase the baby back rib racks from a local West Seattle butcher shop called The Swinery that offers exquisite cuts of meat. The quality of meat had a big bearing on how good the ribs tasted. He also purchased their signature barbecue sauce, which was delicious. The Swinery is the first and only sustainable butcher in Seattle. Pretty cool, right? Finally, we prepared two racks of beef ribs from Metropolitan Market that we seasoned with salt and pepper only. These ribs were also delicious but the Baby Back ribs stole the show! 

Recipe Source:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Cedar-Smoked Pork Loin with Pineapple Salsa

Have you ever experienced one of those perfect summer days when all is as it should be? Yesterday was one of those days for me. I spent the day hanging out in the yard with the two love's of my life; Brad and Olivia. We worked to make our deck and patios as beautiful as possible and then began preparation for a barbecue. This particular evening was special because we invited one of Brad's childhood friends and his family as well as a few other friends. We aren't usually high maintenance barbecuers but we wanted to make something a bit more gourmet than hot dogs and hamburgers; although we have nothing against a good hot dog. After much thought and research, we finally decided on the following recipe for Cedar-Smoked Pork Loin with Pineapple Salsa.


1 untreated cedar plank (about 4" by 12")
1 pork loin roast, 3 to 3 1/2 lbs

For Salsa:
4 cups finely diced pineapple
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp minced jalapeno pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 green onions (white part only), finely sliced
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil
kosher salt

For Rub:
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Immerse untreated cedar plank in water; place weight on plank to keep it submerged. Soak for 4 to 24 hours.

To make salsa: Combine pineapple, sugar, vinegar, lime juice, jalapeno, cumin, salt and pepper in large saute pan. Bring to boil and cook over medium-high heat until thickened, 7 to 10 minutes. If there is still a lot of remaining liquid, use slotted spoon to transfer pineapple to a bowl and continue cooking liquid over high heat for additional 5 minutes; then pour liquid over pineapple. Mix in onions and basil. Season with salt, if desired.

To make rub: Combine rub ingredients in small bowl. Trim any excess fat from pork loin. Spread rub over roast and place on cedar plank. Allow to stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before grilling.

All Photos Courtesy of Brad Lovejoy

Grill over direct medium heat until internal temperature is 155 degrees, about one hour. Carefully remove roast and plank from grill and loosely cover roast with foil. Allow to rest for 3 to 5 minutes before carving. Serve warm with pineapple salsa. Makes 6 servings.

This recipe met our expectations and then some. The pork was grilled to perfection (thank you, Brad) and the rub was smoky with just the right amount of herbaceousness. The pineapple salsa was out of this world! I chose to use fresh organic pineapple that was at the peak of ripeness. The sweetness of the pineapple and sugar against the spiciness of the cumin and jalapeno with the freshness of the green onion and basil was absolutely delicious. I couldn't seem to get enough of the salsa with each bite of pork.

I served the dish with a side of grilled zucchini, yellow squash, baby potatoes, and mixed carrots. The zucchini, jalapeno, thyme and basil were all harvested from my garden. Every other vegetable was either locally grown or organic and purchased at Metropolitan Market or the West Seattle Produce Company. Finally, thank you to our dear friends for such a lovely evening.

Recipe Source:
"Weber's Big Book of Grilling" by Jamie Purviance and Sandra S. McRae
Page 182