Thursday, July 30, 2009

I made Fancy Lunch for Frances!

Today I had Frances over for lunch. I decided to make something really beautiful and refreshing and summery and that we would eat it in the new alternate dining area in our apartment, since our new layout has doubled our common space. Frances was the first guest to eat at this table.

I found two recipes I liked: Chilled Mango and Cucumber Soup, from Gourmet Magazine (by way of Epicurious) and Lemon-scented Quinoa Salad from

Here they are, annotated of course:

Chilled Mango and Cucumber Soup:


2 mangoes, peeled and pitted (2 pounds total)
2 seedless cucumbers (usually plastic-wrapped; 1 1/2 pounds total)
3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Finely chop 1 mango and 1 cucumber and set aside. Coarsely chop remaining mango and cucumber and purée with 1/4 cup water (I used No-Chicken Broth instead) in a blender until almost smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in finely chopped mango and cucumber, onion, lime juice, and 2 cups cold water (again, broth). Place bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and stir until cool.

Just before serving, stir in cilantro and 1 1/4 teaspoons salt.

Soup can also be chilled in the refrigerator until cold, but it will take about 2 hours.

I garnished the soup with sliced avocado, a dollop of Greek yogurt, and a few thinly sliced scallions. AND, just to be crazy, instead of just throwing on some fresh cilantro, I made a little cilantro oil by putting it in the blender with olive oil. It was very pretty. Just look:

And now for the salad:

Lemon-scented Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 can garbanzo beans, or dried equivalent
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped

Tahini Dressing:
1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped
1/4 cup tahini
Zest of one lemon
scant 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons hot water
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Rinse the quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer. In a medium saucepan heat the quinoa and water until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa fluffs up, about 15 minutes. Quinoa is done when you can see the curlique in each grain, and it is tender with a bit of pop to each bite. Drain any extra water and set aside.

While the quinoa is cooking make the dressing. Whisk together the garlic, tahini, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil. Add the hot water to thin a bit and then the salt.

Toss the cooked quinoa, beans, cilantro, red onion, and half of the dressing. Add more dressing if you like and season with more salt to taste. Serve garnished with a bit of cilantro.

Serves 4.

I changed a couple of things here. Cooked the quinoa in No-Chicken Broth instead of water and added maybe 1/2 tsp turmeric. Pan fried the chickpeas a little bit with one clove of garlic. Added some Bragg's to the dressing to give it a little more flavor. Also threw some scallions and pine nuts on top.

It was a nice hearty compliment to the fruity soup.

This is what it looked like all laid out on the table:

These are two very simple but delicious dishes that would be easy to take to a picnic or barbeque.


  1. It was so yummy! Thank you. By the way, my alternate dining area is at my desk. You're so much classier(: CAn't wait to cook for Sarah soon!

  2. Beautiful photos!!

    Great summer recipes. I am very excited to try them.

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