What’s Cooking: Quinoa Salad & Chipotle Scones

I’ve had the gift of Molly and her boyfriend Mark, plus my grand-dog, Roxie, visiting from San Francisco for the long weekend, which is my excuse for being two days late with this blog post. (That’s Molly, Roxie, and Mark at Salida’s hometown Fourth of July parade. Mark wants you to know he’s holding a Clementine Izze soda in his hand, not a beer!)

With guests around, I’ve been cooking, so I have two new recipes to share. Both were inspired by local and seasonal ingredients, and are healthy as well as delicious. 

For breakfast the morning after Molly and Mark arrived with Roxie, I revised my favorite savory scone recipe using the chipotle honey seasoning mix from Stonehouse Olive Oil Molly and Mark brought me in bage of San Francisco goodies. (Yum!)

A lighter and savory version of scones, with a crumbly texture from blue cornmeal

Southwest-style Chipotle Scones

1-1/4 cups oat flour
1/2 cup unbleached flour (could just use all oat flour)
1/2 cup blue cornmeal
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

2-1/2 tsp Chipotle Honey Rub from Stonehouse Olive Oil or the spice/herb mix below:

  • 1 tsp chipotle chile powder (can substitute hot red chile powder, but it won’t have the lovely smoky flavor of chipotle chiles)

  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin

  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano

  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder (no salt)

  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper

5 T butter, cubed
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk, whole-milk yogurt, or half-n-half soured with 1 tsp vinegar
3 T maple syrup

About 1 T raw sugar

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. (At high altitude, 415 degrees.) Mix dry ingredients plus chipotle and other herbs and spices. (I do this in a food processor, pulsing until the ingredients are evenly mixed.) Cut in butter until flour/butter mix is crumbly. (In a food processor, pulse slowly just until crumbly. Over-mixing destroys the crumb texture of the finished scones.)

Beat egg in small bowl, add buttermilk/yogurt/soured cream and maple syrup and beat until combined. Reserve about a T for wash for scones. Pour the rest into food processor, pulse just until the mix begins to gather into a mass. Pour about 2 T flour onto a cookie sheet. Scoop up the scone dough (it should be sticky) and dredge in flour on cookie sheet until it can be formed into a ball. Flatten the ball gently and if fold over twice to knead in enough flour to make it workable. Carefully pat out into a half-inch thick round, repositioning on flour to keep it from sticking to cookie sheet. Brush with reserved egg/cream/syrup wash and sprinkle with raw sugar. Cut into 8 wedges, moving wedges apart so they don’t stick while baking.

Bake 15 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Delicious warm or cool, especially with yogurt and fresh summer fruit.

The blue cornmeal in these scones is organic and comes from northern New Mexico, within the 150-mile circle that I define as local food, as does the flour (from the San Luis Valley), the butter (from a Colorado dairy) and the egg, which was laid by a flock just blocks away. 

For last night’s Cabe family gathering to celebrate Molly’s uncle Ron’s birthday, I made a summer quinoa salad (I doubled this recipe to serve a crowd):

Beet the Heat Quinoa Salad

2 cups cooked quinoa

1 cup steamed beets, sliced into thin wedges
1 cup steamed sugar-snap or snow peas
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
½ cup walnuts, chopped coarsely
juice from one lemon
2 T olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
fresh-ground pepper to taste
a sprinkle of salt

Rinse a cup of quinoa in a sieve until the water is clear. Put the soaked quinoa in a pot with one-and-a-half cups of water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 15 minutes. Let sit for five minutes, and then put it in a salad bowl. Sprinkle with salt (about a quarter of a teaspoon is enough) and grind pepper over it to taste. Add olive oil and lemon juice and stir.

Arrange the beet wedges on top of the quinoa and then top with the steamed edible-pod peas (let some beets show through the green peas–it’s prettier that way). Then top with feta and walnuts. This serves four as a main dish, or eight as a side. 

The nutty and earthy flavor of the quinoa is a perfect compliment to the sweetness of fresh steamed beets and peas; the salty feta and rich walnuts round out the flavors. This salad keeps well in the fridge too, so it’s a good make-ahead dish.

The quinoa is grown by White Mountain Farm, an hour south in the San Luis Valley, and the beets and snow peas came from Milberger Farm down the Arkansas River via Ploughboy Local Foods Market, the neighborhood local-food grocery store and deli. (I didn’t have enough sugar-snap peas in my front-deck garden or I would have harvested them for uber-local food!)

So while I wasn’t blogging this weekend, I was relaxing and having fun–just what my doc ordered.

And that’s my summer wish for all of you–eat well, have fun, and join me in being grateful for the gifts life brings us, like these smiling faces in the photo below. 

Mark Allen, me, and Molly Cabe (Roxie is half-hidden in the background)