This summer, I’ve mostly eaten alone. My wife has been deployed, and I have to say, my meals have gotten a bit repetitive.
This is due in part to the fact that it’s summer, and the things that are bountiful are the things I want to eat all the time. It’s also due in part to the fact that without my wife here, I get a little lazy, a little lax. My dinners fall into the category of Nothing to Write Home About. I mean, this blog is about a writer who cooks – it’s theoretically 50% about food. Take a look around. If I roll up in here with a photo of my PB&J and pretzel sticks and nectarine slices, the food blogging world will laugh at me. I’ll look crazy.
(Of course, the 50% of this blog that’s about writing sees no problem with this and applauds my efforts at a balanced meal – peanut butter AND fruit? That’s practically a salad!)
But while the repetition can become tiresome – “lentil salad again????” – it can also be a blessing.
Have you thought about the way that seasonality binds us? I mean, truly, think about it. Almost everywhere you go in the U.S. right now, sweet corn and tomatoes and cucumbers and stone fruit abound. We’re all pretty much eating the same thing.
And you don’t have to take my word for it. Let’s consider, just for a moment, the Tomato Community, as witnessed on Instagram:
That shredded mozzarella is pretty much porn. We’re all thinking it.
I mean, all the pretty. Tomatoes abound, and they’re gorgeous, and we’re all eating them, and a lot of us are photographing them, and in a way, that connects us, right? Like, because it’s sunny and hot and summer, because of the season, because of the bounty of the harvest, we are connected through the food.
Am I reaching? Maybe. But like I said, it’s gotten pretty lonely around dinner time this summer. Plus, I’m writing a lot, which means I have to force myself to be even more solitary, and y’all: that gets to you after awhile, which is why I feel all warm and fuzzy when I see a bunch of tomato pictures on Instagram and think, THIS IS MY TRIBE.
(Luckily for me, my wife is home now! Happy day! Normalcy restored!)
But even though she’s home, the summer’s not over. Not quite. We can still get our hands on those beauties – we can still be part of the Tomato Community.
When I knew my wife was coming home, I whipped up this Quinoa Tabouleh with Chickpeas, which I modified just slightly from FoodieCrush. We would need lunches, ones I could prep in a hurry mid-day, and one that she could take with her to work. This salad has everything I want – protein, vegetables, fresh herbs, a zingy lemon dressing, and it pairs with feta cheese and a fried egg like a dream.
Quinoa Tabouleh with Chickpeas
Adapted from FoodieCrush
The original recipe served 8-10, but since we eat this as a main dish (and I spaced on getting two cucumbers instead of one), I stretched it to serve 4-5.
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 15.5oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 hothouse cucumber, seeded and chopped as desired
1 pint cherry tomatoes (go for the gorgeous heirloom variety – you won’t be sorry), halved or quartered
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Cook quinoa according to package instructions. If you’re like me and you went through a phase where you put all your dry goods in jars and perhaps you didn’t keep the instructions: Bring one cup water to a boil in a saucepan. Add quinoa, give it a stir, cover, and reduce to simmer. Simmer 12-15 minutes, until quinoa is done. Remove pot from heat, put the lid on, and let sit 10 minutes (this will make sure the quinoa doesn’t stick to the pot).
2. In a large bowl, mix chickpeas, chopped cucumber, halved or quartered tomatoes (confession: I halved some and quartered others – it was MADNESS), scallions, parsley, and quinoa. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.
3. In a jar, combine lemon juice, olive oil, and a little more salt and pepper. Replace the lid (make sure it’s on tight!), and then shake like hell to emulsify the dressing. Add as needed to the salad, stirring as you go to incorporate and fully dress the salad. (I only used about 1/2 – 2/3 of my dressing, leaving some leftover for later in the week. By all means, if you want to use it all, go for it.)
4. Enjoy as is, or sprinkle on some feta, or if you need more protein (I always need more protein) throw a fried egg on top! Makes great lunches for the week ahead.