Great Meal for Summer Weather: Quinoa with Grilled Pork & Garlic Lime Vinaigrette

August 8, 2007

I know it’s sweltering across the country right now, and even though we’re enjoying a balmy 73 degrees right now (sorry, I can’t resist…I know.  It’s not very nice.  But I can’t stand the heat.  I melt in the heat.  I’m not comfortable at any temperature above 83.5 degrees.  It’s the only real think I truly like about where I live, since we don’t get snow, or pretty trees with colored leaves, or…)  Ahem.

As I was saying, it’s always great to have a few recipes around that you can put together semi-painlessly and with little or no cooking.  Or that can be made a bit ahead so the kitchen isn’t heating up when you least want it to.

Are you curious yet?  So no baking.  And no sweets.  I’m trying to cure a few of you of that.  You know…diversification.  Whatever. 

The July 2007 issue of Gourmet magazine has many, many lovely recipes in it.  I’m trying to break my habit of getting the magazine in the mail since it’s available on epicurious, I’ve grown to really enjoy reading it.  It will most likely be the only magazine I hang on to from my ‘zine addiction.  *sigh*  I just try and think of all the trees I’m helping to save.

Anyway, Gourmet has a section called "Gourmet Every Day:  Quick Kitchen."  I’m not one to seek out "quick" meals, because for me, that’s usually just throwing a few things together.  What’s the point of a recipe.  Also, a few times, the ones I’ve tried haven’t been all that great.  However…I’ve made the "Grilled Pork Chops with Garlic Lime Sauce" twice in the last month (a TOTAL record for me) and recently tried the "Black-Bean and Tomato Quinoa" to go with the pork.  Both recipes are featured in the "Quick Kitchen" section of the issue, and they were quickly tagged to be added to our recent vacation fare.  YUM.  Sorry the photos are few and a bit fuzzy.  I’m completely challenged when there are lots of people around, cooking, and trying to take photos.  It’s nerve wracking.  Plus, a bit strange, and I already give everyone enough to talk about.

This is a perfect meal to make when you are wanting to wow both meat eaters and vegetarians.  It’s fabulous.  I’ve noted my variations below each recipe.  The recipes are posted exactly as written and can be located at epicurious dot com.

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Grilled Pork Chops with Garlic Lime Sauce


The vinaigrette is light, and would be excellent on chicken, shrimp, or a plain salad.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1/4 c. fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp dried hot red-pepper flakes
1/3 c. olive oil
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
6 (12/-inch-thick) boneless pork chops

Directions

  1. Whisk together lime juice, garlic, red-pepper flakes, and 1/4 tsp. salt, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking well.  Whisk in cilantro.
  2. Prepare a gas grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-high heat.  Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper.  Oil grill rack, then grill pork chops, covered, turning over once, until just cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes total.
  3. Serve drizzled with some vinaigrette, and with remainder on the side.

*If you aren’t able to grill outdoors, chops can be cooked in a hot lightly oiled large (2-burner) ridged grill pan over moderately high heat.

Notes

The first time I made these (no photos from that night — just the second time I made the chops), the chops were quite thick (1-1/2 inch) and were amazing.  The pork was lean, nicely grilled, and very moist.  The flavor was excellent.

I brushed on a small amount of the vinaigrette toward the end of the cooking time on both sides of the chops, then drizzled more over all before serving.

I also substituted basil for the cilantro the first time, because that’s what I had.  It was very good and I can’t say whether I enjoy the cilantro more, because each has its own flavor.

I added green onions or scallions to the vinaigrette.

I used two very large cloves of garlic for 3 chops.  We love garlic, and no, we don’t think this overpowers the taste. 

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Black-Bean and Tomato Quinoa

If you haven’t tried quinoa (keen-wah), you should consider it.  It’s a
pleasant tasting grain that is very high in protein.  It cooks up much
the way pasta does, and has a very mild nutty flavor.

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 tsp. grated lime zest
2 T fresh lime juice
2 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 T vegetable oil
1 tsp. sugar
1 c. quinoa
1 (14-15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 med. tomatoes, diced
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. Whisk together lime zest and juice, butter oil, sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a large bowl.
  2. Wash quinoa in 3 changes of cold water in a bowl, draining in a sieve each time.
  3. Cook quinoa in a medium pot of boiling salter water (1 T salt for 2 quarts water), uncovered, until almost tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain in sieve, then set sieve in same pot with 1 inch of simmering water (water should not touch bottom of sieve).
  4. Cover quinoa with a folded kitchen towel, then cover sieve with a lid (don’t worry if lid doesn’t fit tightly) and steam over medium heat until tender, fluffy, and dry, about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove pot from heat and remove lid.  Let stand, still covered with towel, 5 minutes.
  6. Add quinoa to dressing and toss until dressing is absorbed.
  7. Stir in remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste.

Notes

I doubled this recipe since we were feeding about 10 and we had some left over for lunch the next day.

I used Trader Joe’s "Harvest Grains Blend" which is a mix of Israeli Style Couscous, Orzo, Baby Garbanzo Beans, and Red Quinoa.  I had it at home and wanted to try it, so this recipe seemed perfect.

Don’t get hung up on the steaming part.  Save some of the liquid drained from the quinoa and use that to steam it after you place the sieve over it.  I used a clean terry kitchen towel and tucked in the edges.  Then I set the lid on the whole contraption.  Just be careful not to set the towel on fire.  No, I didn’t set the towel on fire.  Sheesh!

The rest is food history.  I totally believe this is another recipe that could easily mix well with grilled veggies.  YUM.  Or, grill the limes and then squeeze the juice.  Seriously YUM.

To finish it off, you need one deck or patio, an umbrella, a cool glass of chardonnay (okay, so what do I know about wine other than I like to drink it?), an evening, and great friends.  Ahhhhhhhh…….

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Deborah August 9, 2007

These both look amazing! I just recently had my first encounter with quinoa and I love it!

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