What began as (in the words of Oprah) an, "aha moment" where I would "brilliantly" combine protein packed Quinoa, with the fresh and vibrant flavors of the authentic Greek dolma - somehow went terribly wrong. The idea of replacing the dolma's white rice filling with the "Mother of all Grains," meant dumping the sugar and starch, and replacing it with the ancient seed known for an array of innate health benefits (dating all the way back to the Incas). Like an overly confident contestant on Top Chef (having never attempted stuffed grape leaves before) I approached the lofty endeavor expecting the final product to elicit words of praise - not only for use of ingredients, but for flavor...texture ...and all around originality.
Without getting too in depth, my dolmas failed miserably to stay together and the grape leaves themselves (jarred and soaked in brine) never became tender (despite hours of simmering atop the stove). I kept trying to tell myself they were good, but when my husband's face (after popping one in his mouth) instantly morphed into what a camel looks like while gnawing away on hay...I knew I had failed. "Honey," he said, "please pack your knives and go."
But wait...I was in my own home, my own kitchen, and my husband (while looking good) is NOT Padma! Aha! Although my grape leaves unpalatable...their filling was delicious! Served hot or cold, this Quinoa Salad infused with lemon, mint and dill, tasted exactly like the inside of the dolmas I so coveted! An unbelievably healthy and delicious side dish with enough protein and vitamins to serve as a main course, eating this quinoa salad reminds me of dining alfresco amongst the open food stalls of historic Athens, Greece. ( <-- Never been, but a girl can dream!)
Now onto the WINNER of the $40 CSN Stores online giveaway! I'm excited to announce Rachel Crisman of The Dalai Mama as the lucky recipient! (Thank you random.org) The $40 gift certificate will be directly sent to your email via CSN Stores promotional team! Thank you to all those who participated and THANK YOU CSN Stores for approaching me to conduct this giveaway and for providing consumers an unbelievably broad spectrum of items at unbeatable low prices!
Now, can someone please enlighten me on HOW TO MAKE PERFECT DOLMAS?
TAKE IT OFF FOOD #8
Quinoa Salad with Lemon, Mint and Dill
1 cup Quinoa
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
juice from 1/2 a large lemon
2 T. pine nuts
4 T olive oil (2 for sauteing and 2 for drizzling at the end - optional)
Directions:Prepare 1 cup of Quinoa according to package directions (make sure to rinse before cooking) Usually takes 10-15 minutes to cook. In the meantime saute up onion for 3-4 minutes. Add mint, dill and pine nuts to the sauteed onion. Continue cooking 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and add quinoa and lemon juice to the pan, incorporate well. S&P to taste, drizzle with olive oil.