Sunday, March 29, 2015

So Qrazy About Quinoa - Warm Quinoa Salad with Shrimp and Asparagus

Saturday - So before we get to the good stuff - I have a new recipe I just tried, involving quinoa, rock shrimp, and fresh asparagus - I need to take a look at the bad.

I am not the only person dealing with chronic pain and illness.  This brings me no comfort; on the contrary, it upsets me and angers me.  Whoever coined the phrase "God don't make no junk" should be soundly kicked in the head by a fourth degree black belt.  If the Lord doesn't make "junk", then why did He invent the concept of planned obsolescence?  You get old, you start to fall apart - why?

Whatever the reasons, God has come up with a veritable multitude of diseases, disorders, and syndromes with which to plague the human race. Two that were brought to my attention this week are peripheral artery disease and basal arthritis.  Two people who I care for very much each have one of these diseases.  Both hurt like hell and will likely result in nasty surgery and protracted recovery.  This is, to my way of thinking, intolerable.  These are good people.  Pain should not be an option for good people.  God, are You listening?

Anyway, we had dinner with friends tonight, at Prato in Winter Park.  Oh boy, was that good!  Poppyseed pappardelle with a duck bolognese.  Say that five times fast.  One of our friends had baked ricotta gnudi, which I would love to try - someday.

Good thing I had a great meal, because tomorrow begins the two day preparation for my colonoscopy.  Soft foods (there go my evening chips). Steamed fish or chicken (feh).  And it goes downhill from there - around 6:30 in the evening I have to drink a whole bottle of magnesium citrate. But wait!  It gets even worse on Monday!  Imagine a 64 ounce bottle of Gatorade, which I would never drink under normal circumstances, mixed with an entire 238 gram bottle of Miralax.  Imagine having to drink 8 ounces of this witch's brew, plus another 8 ounces of water.  Now imagine repeating this bizarre ritual every 15 minutes, seven more times!  Plus two double doses of Dulcolax tablets, but that's chump change compared to the water torture.  And doctors wonder why some people (like me) go out of their way to avoid this procedure.

I can't do it, I simply cannot do it.  No really, I can't physically ingest that much liquid, especially during a speed-drinking event.  Even after all these years, my pouch (what remains of my stomach after the gastric bypass surgery) is really really REALLY small.  I am already having problems with the opening from pouch to intestine - so where is all this liquid going to go? Oh hell, I'll deal with that tomorrow, and I promise to spare you the details.

I found this recipe in the Whole Foods Market Cookbook, and while I wasn't sure about the finished product, Rob had it for lunch after it had a chance to chill in the fridge, and he liked it quite a bit, although he said the texture of the quinoa was a bit mushy.  I'm pretty sure that was my fault, as I splashed in a bit more wine at the end, thinking the mixture was dry. Clearly I was wrong. Speaking of wrong, the recipe called for "unreconstituted" sun-dried tomatoes.  I had oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes in the fridge and thought it would be sufficient to pat them dry, but I think they may have contributed a little too much liquid, and next time I will definitely try the dry-pack version.  I also changed the timing for adding the asparagus and the peas, as I think the asparagus needed a little more, and the peas a little less time.

Warm Quinoa Salad with Shrimp and Asparagus

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, unreconstituted, julienned
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
kosher salt to taste
1/2 cup quinoa

1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (I was lucky enough to find rock shrimp)
1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup frozen green peas (next time I'm going to go to 1/2 cup)

1/2 cup roasted cashew pieces
6 green onions, white and light green parts, minced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Sauté the onion and garlic for 3 minutes.  Add the sun-dried tomatoes and simmer for 1 minute.  Add the water, wine, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Add the quinoa, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the quinoa is almost tender to the bite.

Add the shrimp and asparagus to the saucepan on top of the quinoa, cover and simmer for 6 more minutes.   Take the pan off the heat, stir in the peas, and top the dish with the cashews, onions, and parsley.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve warm, or chilled.

I got to taste it both ways and I much preferred it chilled overnight. Delicious, even with (or maybe because of) the oil-packed tomatoes.  If you want to serve it chilled, wait until just before serving to sprinkle on the nuts, and also add more chopped parsley.

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