It was hot yesterday. Summer hot, and muggy. I did not love it. I don’t love the humid heat even in midsummer, and in mid-May it’s worse. In any case, the heat blunted ambition and appetite alike, but dinner was still served.
I cooked quinoa in whey and water until it was nice and soft. None of the gritty, flossy nonsense that is undercooked quinoa; I wanted this to be nice and gluey. While it cooked, I sautéed some bacon in a pan and added a bunch of onion and chopped ramp bulbs to soften, then a whole pile of greens from the garden—arugula, spinach, radish, fennel, and beet thinnings, chervil, the ramp greens, and probably some other things as well. I tossed it all together off the heat, with copious olive oil and wine vinegar, until the greens wilted a bit, and then pressed it into a ring mold on each plate. Sriracha on the side.
This concoction was half a meal, really; it wanted a protein on top—some river trout, for example, which is in season—and some brothy sauce type action, but for the purposes of filling stomachs with something both nourishing and damn tasty, it fit the bill. Being able to bring an armload of immaculate greens in on a moment’s notice makes “cooking” a relative term, anyway. And if you needed any further proof that a ring mold is the quickest way to turn a lackluster bowl of halfassery into something that’s all classy and shit, this should take care of that. I wish this had an egg yolk on top of it. That’s what I should have done, dammit.
There are a million grain salads to be found all over the world. This one was heavier on the grain, and designed to stick together. Add more greens and drier grain and you’ve got more of a tabouli thing happening. Anywhere along that spectrum serves equally well as a garden delivery system. The leftovers from this will make wicked arancini after the heat breaks.