Earlier this month, we had the pleasure of celebrating the Bar Mitzvah of our family friend, Jake, as he turned 13 and became a Jewish adult. Following the service in the synagogue, a festive lunch is served for everyone attending. Usually this is a catered event, but more often now families are choosing to prepare the lunch themselves with the help of friends. I love it!
What a happy way to gather together. It makes me think of communities long ago, when women shared in the cooking for their families and baked bread in the town ovens. For Jake’s event, friends met in our synagogue kitchen and cooked away for 275 guests. Over a few days, we chopped, we laughed, we baked, we chatted and we stirred. We enjoyed creating this celebratory meal together.
There are quite a few talented cooks and bakers in our community, whose specialties are well loved. One such friend, Iris, makes the perfect quinoa – fluffy and flavorful – for her signature salad with a Southwest flair. She first cooks the quinoa with cumin, salt and pepper. I could happily eat it just like this, but Iris creates a salad bursting with so much taste that I always find myself eating many bowls of it ... and this time asking to share the recipe.
Black beans, corn, red pepper and an abundance of chopped herbs are mixed with the quinoa and simply dressed with lime juice and olive oil. Bliss. Each colorful bite bursts with the freshness of cilantro, mint and green onions. Crunchy and soft, zesty and satisfying, this salad makes a marvelous light lunch or an ideal side dish for grilled fish or chicken.
With special times such as this, I’m reminded again of what a gift it is to be part of such a vibrant, caring community. Mazel tov to Jake!
This week, with the horrific events at the Boston Marathon, I feel even more grateful for community. Boston is my hometown and I cheered along the Marathon route many times. I am heartbroken by this devastating tragedy and my thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and the city.
Southwest Quinoa Salad
Inspired by Iris Brumer
1 cup quinoa, rinsed (some brands are pre-rinsed, allowing you to skip this step)
1 3/4 cups water
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup mint, roughly chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, diced
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (or a 15 ounce can of beans, drained and rinsed)
1 cup corn kernels (fresh or canned)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1-2 juicy limes
1 tablespoon olive oil
Combine the quinoa, water, cumin, salt and pepper in a medium sized sauce pan and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and lower the heat to a simmer. Let cook until the quinoa is soft and water is absorbed, about 13-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep covered for 5 minutes. Uncover and let cool. The quinoa can be made a day ahead and kept in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.
Place the quinoa in a large serving bowl. Add the mint, cilantro, onions, red pepper, beans, corn and garlic. Squeeze the juice of one lime in and drizzle in the olive oil. Stir gently, taste for additional lime juice, salt and pepper and add more if needed. Serve at room temperature.