from one-million to one: zucchini & sweet pea quinoa with fresh herbs & fresno chili

zucchini & sweet pea quinoa with fresh herbs and fresno chili

You know those days when you wake up and swear off pizza, that second (third) glass of wine, and ALL THE RHUBARB CRISP ICE CREAM for ever and ever and always till the end of time?

a half cup of quinoa

Our first month here in San Francisco has gone by in a blur of indulgence, with four (separate!) sets of house guests, lingering meals kicked off with cocktails and wound down with unnecessary multiples of decadent dessert, lots (and lots, and lots) of coffee, and too many celebratory (and introductory!) glass clinks to count.

the zucchini is chopped!

And I am counting myself lucky. When you move somewhere new, you’ve just got to make it a habit to saying yes to it all – yes to a Sunday night dinner party with new friends (even if you’re dead-exhausted), yes to racing around the city for pedicures and lunch dates (even if you really need to get some work done), and yes to last minute concert invites (you’ve got the idea). The first few months in a new place are crucial for establishing a strong network of friends, and if you give in to those urges to slap on a tattered pair of sweatpants and cozy up on the couch too often, those invites to do cool things at cool places with even cooler people start to wane, and eventually dry up.

super sweet spring peas, halved diagonally

Though I truly feel like I’ve been going one.million.miles.per.hour, it’s the best kind of million there can be; and even though my pants have become…slightly less roomy…shall we say – we’ve packed more worthwhile events and made more new friends in our few short weeks as “Bay-Area” residents to totally justify the dark colored luggage I’m carrying under my eyeballs and pesky spare few pounds that always seem to settle in just where I want them the least. (Don’t get too comfortable, my Dearies.)

chopped fresno adds color and just a bit of kick

This week we bid adieu to some of our dear friends on Tuesday morning, after a long (glorious, four day!) weekend spent wine tasting in Sonoma, brunching at our favorite local French bistro, hiking out on the Land’s End trail, dining at Range, beer tasting at Southern Pacific, and hosting a dinner party for six — and we were exhausted. Totally worth it, but totally beat.

fresh herbs lined up and ready to be stirred in

This weekend is reserved for lots of R&R, catching up, and a quiet dinner with another couple at a restaurant I’ve been dying to try. I’ve eeked out almost 16 miles of running (total) since Wednesday (with a few good Pandora stations as my sideline cheerleader), and I’m still taking down iced coffee like it’s my job – but the homemade kind, and without any sidecar mimosas.

stirring in the cooked quinoa

I’ve made vegetarian and vegan meals all week long, and it’s amazing how quickly eating ‘clean’ will have you feeling like a new human in no time. Though I can’t say I’d ever be able to sustain vegan habits for too long (damn you cheese and good butter), going without meat and whole lot for small stretches always makes me feel so much better after times of too little sleep and too much food.

a finished salad of zucchini and sweet pea quinoa

The Spring produce here is strutting it’s stuff, and this quinoa salad – light on the quinoa, heavy on the sugar snap peas, chopped zucchini, and fresh herbs – showcases it perfectly. It’s healthy and filling while at the same time (thankfully) not filling me like the incredible chicken-liver-mousse at Hog and Rocks.

loads of fresh mint, cilantro, and parsley brighten up this zucchini and sweet pea quinoa

Seriously folks. It’s been a helluva month.

a delicious and healthy salad (zucchini and sweet pea quinoa with fresh herbs and fresno chili)

Zucchini and Sweet Pea Quinoa with Fresh Herbs & Fresno Chili
Serves 2 as a main course salad, or 3-4 as a smaller side

To chop my zucchini, I first halved them lengthwise, and then cut each half again lengthwise, so that I had 4 quarters that looked almost like long dill pickle spears. I them chopped each ‘spear’ into slices about 1/2″ thick — this size was perfect for this salad.

2 cups cooked quinoa
2 small zucchini, chopped (see note above)
10 oz sugar snap peas, ends trimmed
1 fresno chili, seeded and diced
6-8 sprigs fresh mint, leaves picked off and left whole (discard stems)
6-8 stems fresh cilantro, leaves picked off and left whole (discard stems)
6-8 stems of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked off and left whole (discard stems)
kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper
olive oil

Heat 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet set over medium high heat. Add the zucchini and a pinch of kosher salt, and gently stir fry, stirring occasionally, till they are starting to become translucent on the edges but are not yet totally tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the snap peas, the diced fresno chili, and a bit more olive oil, if necessary. Stir fry the vegetables until the zucchini is tender (but not totally soft and/or mushy) and the snap peas have brightened in color and are sweet with a bit of crunch, about 3 minutes more. Stir in the cooked quinoa and stir to combine with the vegetables; taste, adjust your salt levels, and add a few grinds of black pepper. Take the mixture off of the heat, and stir in the fresh herbs; transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately, or at room temperature.

Salad will keep (covered and in the refrigerator) for 4-5 days, and makes an excellent make ahead/take with you lunch. It is also great to have on hand to snack on by the bowl full.


5 responses to “from one-million to one: zucchini & sweet pea quinoa with fresh herbs & fresno chili

  1. Well done for getting a post out despite having such a big month! It can be tough right?! Very jealous of all of you northern hemispherians getting spring produce…good to see you’re making good use of it. Lovely post.

  2. I’m in your shoes – but in Chicago. I think [okay, know] I’d rather be in SF! Cheers to being busy as hell and still finding time to cook [and blog!]

  3. This recipe looks divine!!

  4. Pingback: pickle magic: pickled red onions (garlic, black peppercorn, star anise, and california bay leaf) | eat and relish

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