We usually do our food shopping once a week, on Sunday afternoons, bolting to Trader Joe’s as soon as the final whistle on the final soccer event of the weekend finally blows. It’s our secular pilgrimage. We genuflect at the altar of dried fruits and granola bars, we load up the cart, we drive home, the kids go upstairs to animate some plastic stuff, and Jenny and I begin the never-gets-less-brutal process of unpacking the groceries… at which point, we realize, as we put the fresh crop of vegetables into the refrigerator, that we haven’t made use of half of what we bought last week. There’s a sad fennel bulb, once crisp and fresh, now yellowish and funky. (A pity, too: I had big plans for that. Look for a roasted fennel recipe one of these days.) There’s a quart of now-slimy mushrooms, and an exhausted hunk of red cabbage. There’s an ominous cluster of tupperware containers, each holding part of an onion, lemon, or red pepper, all of uncertain vintage, all well past their prime. And way in the back, by the sour cream, there’s always a tub of grape tomatoes, now a week old and only 1/3 eaten, and we really want to make use of them, but they’re just this side of too-far-gone to put on our salad.
We’re not proud to admit this, but we often end up throwing too much of this stuff away. It’s a lot of food, and a lot of money, to go to waste.
Last weekend, though, we may have solved the grape tomato problem. Since they were already starting to turn, we embraced the shrivel. We doubled down on the decay. We slow-roasted them, until they were all wrinkly and intense and sweet, and then we tossed them into a quinoa salad. Roasted tomatoes are so easy, very hard to mess up, and versatile as they wanna be: you can put these over pasta with olive oil and cheese, on bruschetta with garlic and basil, on top of fish or chicken. Or, as we ended up doing, you can use them to add a whole new hearty dimension to a salad. Tomato problem: solved. I don’t know why it took us so long.* — Andy
Quinoa Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Feta
Preheat oven to 300°F. Place however many grape or cherry tomatoes you have (hopefully at least a good handful) on a foil- or parchment-lined baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil and a little honey. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. (I added several sprigs of thyme at this point as well, breaking them up and tossing with the tomatoes, but that’s up to you.) Roast for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. While tomatoes roast, cook 1 cup of quinoa according to package instructions and let cool in a bowl. When tomatoes are done, stir into quinoa, add crumbled feta cheese, some olive oil, salt, pepper, and a healthy squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Top with fresh, chopped parsley.
PS: This is now Jenny writing. We frequenly use quinoa to stretch leftover vegetables which makes it seem like we never have the same quinoa salad twice. But THIS one was something else. It was so good we’ve been making a point to recreate it over and over. I eat it for lunch the next day, too.