For those of you who are curious about the magic that transpires in Ithaca – a gorges, unsuspecting pocket of rich flavors in the Finger Lakes – come to the Ithaca Parade. You won’t forget it. Happily, the parade marches right down Cayuga St., kicking off Ithaca Festival, a celebration of community and “where the heart is.” A week prior, when everyone is scrambling for a sideline view, the requests pour in to share our porch with food and drink and laughter. Oh it’s a marvelous occasion indeed, and we feel lucky to live on the pulse!
We noshed on charred asparagus and spring onions, and “ah-ed” over summer ale. We were drenched with rain, and the sun dried our napkins. We squealed when the Volvo Ballet came in sight, and giggled at the Chainsaw(less) Brigade, and Uncle Frick and Auntie Frack & The Pink Flamingos (an anti-fracking awareness group). We joined in our friends’ call and response for Tompkins County Recycling and Waste: We will take your meat and bones, Just drop on by, no need to phone!
Oh, Ithaca! I wanted to offer two dishes that tasted like exclamation points and the end of this sentence: “IT’S SUMMER! WITH FRIENDS & FRESH FOOD! AND, I LOVE IT HERE!” Well, the results were pretty, darn good: a strawberry and mint quinoa salad, and fig bars from my all-time favorite bakery, Metropolitan Bakery (recipe, with a slight twist, coming tomorrow).
Strawberry, Mint & Quinoa Salad at the Ithaca Parade
- Prep Time: 7 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 22 minutes
- Yield: 16 servings
- Quinoa – 3 cups
- Water – 6 cups
- Strawberries – 1.5 cups, sliced
- Mint – 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
- Pumpkin seeds – 1/3 cup, toasted
- Tahini – 2 tablespoons
- Honey – 2 tablespoons
- Extra virgin olive oil – 3 tablespoons
- Apple cider – 1 teaspoon
- Balsamic vinegar – 1 tablespoon
- Sea salt – 1 teaspoon
- Pepper – About 8 turns of the pepper mill
- Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer to remove the saponin, the natural, bitter coating.
- Add the quinoa and 6 cups of water to a medium pot. Leave the pot uncovered and over medium-high heat, bring the liquid to a rolling boil.
- Cover the pot and reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Simmer for 12-15 minutes. After 12 minutes, remove the lid quickly and stir the quinoa to check if it is done. If the liquid has been completely absorbed and the quinoa is full and fluffy, it’s ready. If not, continue cooking for 1-3 minutes more. Remove the pot from the burner, stir the quinoa and replace the lid. Let the quinoa stand in the pot for 5 minutes.
- Toss the quinoa with the strawberries, mint and pumpkin seeds.
- In a jar or bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and shake or stir vigorously. Toss the dressing with the salad and devour.