August 6 was National Night Out, and our block had its annual pot luck dinner to mark the event. It's really called the National Night Out Against Crime, although I didn't realize it until just now when I looked it up. It makes a lot of sense to have block parties to help deter crime, because the better neighbors get to know one another, the more likely they are to watch out for each other. I got to meet both new and old neighbors and had a great time at our party. I thought it was a huge success, but I couldn't help but wonder what was going on at the block behind ours — lots of loud party noises coming from that block long into the night. Loud and raucous laughing and shrieking. Am I living on the wrong block?
I always have a hard time trying to think of something to make for a potluck, but my husband suggested quinoa salad, and considering the ingredients we had on hand, it seemed like a perfect idea. I cooked the quinoa with vegetable stock to give it an extra flavor boost, and combined it with cucumber, grape tomatoes, green onions, kalamata olives, toasted chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, and salad mix that was half baby spinach and half baby spring mix. When I'm making quinoa I wash it and drain it well, then add it to boiling water, turn the heat to simmer, cover the pot and cook it for 10 minutes. Then I turn off the heat and let the quinoa steam for another 10 minutes or so without removing the lid. Fluff the grain with a fork and either use it hot or let it cool to room temperature. You can also refrigerate it to use the next day. For the potluck salad, I used one cup of quinoa and two cups of stock.
|Leftover dressing. The jar holds a total of 24 ounces.|
The real point of writing the post isn't to describe the salad, it's to describe the salad dressing. The dressing was, in my humble opinion, exquisite — so creamy and luxe, with the perfect balance of herbs and citrus. It may seem like a lot of ingredients, but since I wasn't using a recipe, and was just adding things as I thought of them, it came together quickly— and the taste was fantastic. I'm so glad I wrote the ingredients down so I can make it again. The recipe makes a lot — enough for one really big salad and a few smaller ones. I've been drizzling it on regular green salads, and it's scrumptious. I chose the herbs I used to go with the basil because they're growing in my garden.**
Creamy lemon-basil dressing
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 2 soft dates, split and pitted
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- two or three sprigs of fresh rosemary (remove leaves from woody stems.)
- handful fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped*
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Chop the garlic and let it sit on the cutting board.*
- With a knife or vegetable peeler, peel the yellow skin off the lemon half but leave the white part on. Remove the seeds, and cut the lemon into pieces.
- Add the lemon and water to a high speed blender and purée.
- Add the pine nuts, and dates and blend smooth.
- Add the basil, rosemary, parsley, yeast flakes, garlic and salt, and blend until smooth.
- With the blender running, drizzle in the olive oil. The dressing should become thick and creamy.
Someone will probably ask me if you have to add the oil. The oil thickens the dressing and adds to the flavor, but of course you don't have to add oil. You could try using less water or more pine nuts, or even adding some chia to the blender. I'm sure if you follow an oil-free diet, you'll know what to do. I eat a diet that's pretty low in added oils, but I do use some.
I got the idea for adding the lemon (instead of just the juice) from a smoothie book I recently reviewed. You can read the review and find a link to a recipe, here.
* Last weekend my friend Brenda told me she had read that garlic needs to be chopped and allowed to sit in the air for 10 minutes to make all of its healthful benefits available to our bodies. I googled it and found quite a few articles supporting this information. I chose one article to link to, but feel free to do further research or ignore the whole issue. I don't know if it's true or not, but I think it's true, and am going to do this from now on. You can read more about unlocking garlic's amazing benefits here.
The recipe for creamy basil dressing is being shared on Wellness Weekend.
** Here's a hint for next year, unless you live somewhere with an endless summer and can plant things whenever you want. If you have a sunny, or mostly sunny spot outdoors you can grow herbs in large pots. I bought a basil plant at Trader Joe's for $2.99, and it's acting like growing in a pot is the best thing in the world. Last year I tried growing basil in the ground, and it completely failed, but this year in a pot next to my house, it's growing like a weed. I used to grow ridiculous amounts of basil in the ground in my Wisconsin garden, but here in Seattle, where the summer isn't quite warm enough, my herbs in pots are doing better than my herbs in the ground.
|Found on the cutting board when I cleaned up!|