iDon’tProgram

Herbed summer quinoa salad and iPhone

This is my lunch, with my new telephone. (I know. That’s a telephone. I have trouble believing it myself.)

I was on the fence about the iPhone. Or so I thought, until someone showed me Urbanspoon’s new application. It’s ohso fun. You shake your phone, and it tells you where to eat dinner. Don’t like what it tells you? Shake again. The best part? It works in more than 50 cities, which means the next time I go to London, I don’t have to scribble fifteen thousand restaurant names and their respective addresses into my A to Z map. (That’s pronounced “zed,” you know.) I can just hop off the tube, lock in a neighborhood, and shake away.

The only problem is that no one goes out to dinner every night. At least, no one I know.

Which means someone, somewhere, needs to tap into a giant list of really good recipes (Cookthink? Epicurious? Are your coders on summer vacation?) and plop them into an iPhone app. Call it iMarket. iCookDinner. iWhatever. Or, God forbid, call it something without that poor i, which is so overused it’s beginning to look more like punctuation than an actual letter.

Imagine: You walk into a grocery store, or a farmers’ market. You lock in your parameters – a season, say summer, or an ingredient, or an ethnic cuisine, or “under 20 minutes” – and you shake. It comes up with dinner for you, complete with a shopping list and a pretty picture. Maybe a few serving suggestions, too. No typing. No searching. Just dinner.

This is, effectively, what my brain does every time I walk into a grocery store. The other day, when I walked into my local co-op knowing I wanted to make a tasty, packable lunch for a friend in the hospital, I left with ingredients for a red quinoa salad with tomatoes, olives, feta, and herbs, easy as that. Maybe your brain does it, too. But not everyone is born pre-programmed for dinner decisions.

I can hear you: Keep that idea to yourself, woman! It’s genius! You could make a killing!

It is, if you ask me. And I could.

But it’s so not my bag. So, uh, you coder people. Get moving.

Herbed summer quinoa salad

Herbed Summer Quinoa Salad (PDF)
Think of this as a summer salad template. Add anything you can dream up – I’d have added marinated artichokes, if I’d had them, along with chopped leftover green beans and zucchini, or even chickpeas. It’s the kind of thing you want to be in your refrigerator every time you open it, hungry, at 3 p.m. I believe it tastes best sitting in a chair on a sunny porch.

You can use red or white quinoa; I think red is simply more interesting to look at.

TIME: 20 minutes active time
MAKES: 6 servings

1 cup red or white quinoa
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 pint assorted baby tomatoes, halved
1 cup pitted nicoise or Kalamata olives, chopped
3/4 cup crumbled feta (about 1/3 pound)
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and boil for 5 minutes. Cover the pot, set aside, and let rest for 15 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. (If there’s a little extra water remaining, just pour it off.)

Transfer the quinoa to a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, stir to blend, and season to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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4 Comments

Filed under commentary, gluten-free, grains, Lunch, recipe, salad, side dish, vegetables

4 responses to “iDon’tProgram

  1. Aye, aye, Cap’n. (Our main programmer did get married last weekend, which is kind of like a vacation.) We are working on an iPhone app, but not one that’s shake-savvy — is that a deal-breaker for you? In the meantime, you can use the Cookthink search tool on the iPhone without typing. Unless you have really tiny finger and sharp eyes, you have to zoom a little, but then you can touch search terms (“summery” or “fast” or “Italian” or “tarragon” or any combination) to narrow down your results.

    It’s not perfect but it’s not terrible but as a temporary measure.

  2. Trisha

    Love your shake-and-make dinner programming idea. I’m unfortunately not of the iPhone-using world, but that one just might convert me. And red quinoa! I’m a fan of quinoa, a frequent consumer of the stuff, and so how is it that I’ve never heard of red quinoa before now? I owe you.

  3. Chip – welllll, it’ll work, but really, the shaking is what gets me.

    And oh, Trisha, how about iShakeAndMake?

  4. Genius. Pure genius.

    And Chip, no shake, no deal. The shaking is what makes it fun and keeps the whole thing from feeling like yet another google search.

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