I’ve been futzing around with rhubarb for a couple of weeks, since the moment the pink stalks first appeared in my local markets.

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I made and loved the maple syrup sweetened sauce that went with this pudding and these custards, and Tom Hirschfeld’s cake, which I baked and took to a Mother’s Day brunch, is delicious.

I had some rhubarb left over, but didn’t want to make something too sweet/rich. I wanted to branch out from the typical combination with strawberries, but most of all, I really wanted to taste the rhubarb. When I found a baked rhubarb recipe in my new favorite cookbook, Italian Two Easy: Simple Recipes from the London River Cafe, I knew it would be perfect.

This recipe is not meant to be too sweet, and the rhubarb’s not meant to turn to mush. I’ve been craving blackberries so I added them…

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…as well as some grated ginger and maple syrup, along with the vanilla bean and the orange juice from the original recipe.

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unbaked

Though the recipe only calls for 20 minutes of baking time, I cooked this for about 35 minutes. If you want the rhubarb softer, you can turn up the heat a bit, or just cook it a little longer. I sprinkled some organic sugar onto the fruit after baking, but I like how the rhubarb is still fairly tart. You may want to add more maple syrup/sugar if you are looking for a sweeter result.

This is delicious for breakfast with Greek yogurt and it’s very good over pancakes. I imagine it’s also fabulous with crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream for dessert.

I use vanilla beans from Marx Foods. If you don’t have a vanilla bean, use 1/2-1 teaspoon of vanilla extract instead, and mix it up with the maple syrup and orange juice.

Recipe for Baked Rhubarb and Blackberries with Vanilla

Adapted from Italian Two Easy by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers
Serves 4

Ingredients:

* 5 stalks of rhubarb, trimmed and sliced into 1-2 inch long pieces
* 2 cups of fresh blackberries, rinsed (or try any fresh berry that you like)
* 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (I'm sure honey would work well, too)
*1 tablespoon grated ginger- optional
*1 vanilla bean, split in half
* juice of 1 orange (I used a blood orange)
*organic sugar for sprinkling

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Arrange rhubarb pieces and blackberries in a baking dish (I used a round pie plate).

2. Scrape out some of the vanilla seeds and mix with the maple syrup and the orange juice. Add the grated ginger and drizzle over the rhubarb and berries. Lay the vanilla bean over the fruit in the baking dish.

3. Bake for 35 minutes, or until rhubarb is tender. Sprinkle with the organic sugar and discard the vanilla bean before serving.

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A Few More Great Looking Recipes for Rhubarb:
Blueberry Rhubarb Preserves from In Jennie’s Kitchen
Rhubarb Raspberry Polenta Cake from Veggie Belly
Gluten Free Rhubarb Tartelettes from Helene at Tartelette

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Quinoa is a nutritious seed that comes from the Andes region of South America. While it cooks like a grain, it is actually more nutritious than most grains because it is high in protein, iron, and calcium. Quinoa is also gluten-free.

For many years, the only quinoa I saw in stores was the traditional white quinoa. Recently, however, I am seeing red and black quinoa, as well. I made this salad with black quinoa, but you can use any variety that you like.

Quinoa seeds are naturally coated with a bitter substance that needs to be removed before cooking. You can easily accomplish this by putting your quinoa into a fine mesh strainer and rinsing thoroughly with warm water before cooking.

For this quinoa salad, you cook the quinoa just as you would cook brown rice- 1 cup quinoa to two cups water. Bring to a boil in a small pot on the stove, cover, reduce heat to simmer, and let cook until water is absorbed. Quinoa cooks fast, so this only takes about 15 minutes. When it is done cooking, turn the heat off but leave it covered for another 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork.

black quinoa salad

You don’t have to use grilled vegetables in this salad. If you like the idea of the zucchini and the eggplant but don’t feel like firing up the grill, you could roast them instead. Or you could use chopped tomatoes, cucumber, peppers…lots of combinations would work here, and they’d all be delicious.

Black Quinoa Salad with Grilled Vegetables, Basil, Feta and Pine Nuts

Yield: serves 6-8 as a side dish

Use organic vegetables whenever possible.

Ingredients:

For the salad:

*1 large zucchini
*1 large eggplant
*1 cup raw quinoa, cooked to equal approximately 4 cups cooked quinoa, and then cooled
*1 1/2 cups chopped fresh basil
*approximately 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (I like French feta made with sheep's milk)
*1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted for a minute or so in a hot skillet

Dressing Ingredients:

*1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
*2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
*1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
*1 teaspoon garlic, peeled and minced
*1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
*1/2 teaspoon organic sugar or honey

Directions:

Preparation:
1. Preheat your grill. Sliced the eggplant and zucchini and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in grill basket over high heat and grill until tender. Remove and allow to cool before chopping into bite-sized pieces.

2. Combine the chopped grilled vegetables with the cooked quinoa and the basil in a large bowl. Add most of the crumbled feta cheese. Mix well.

3. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and then pour over the salad. Mix well and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

4. Garnish with the toasted pine nuts and the rest of the feta. You can sprinkle a little more basil on top too, if desired.

black quinoa salad

A Few More Lovely Quinoa Salads:
Black Quinoa Salad from La Tartine Gourmande
Kalyn’s Quinoa Salad with Avocado
Corn and Black Bean Quinoa Salad from Closet Cooking

This post is linked to this week’s edition of Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, hosted by Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.

Have you heard about the food52 vs. Cook’s Illustrated “showdown”? Head over to Slate to learn more about the battle and weigh in on whose recipes you think are best. I’m pretty sure you can guess which camp I’m in…

This roast pork recipe was my entry into food52′s “best pork shoulder” contest. While it did not make it to the finals (had it won, you’d now be seeing it on Slate), it was designated as an “editor’s pick”.

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I usually cook meats like this in a slow cooker, but here I used a low temperature oven and lots of liquid. This sauce is both sweet and spicy, just the way I like it, and it’s a pretty low maintenance recipe as you can leave it to cook overnight (or all day if that’s more convenient).

Recipe for Slow and Low Roast Pork with Ginger Sriracha Barbeque Sauce
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

* 5 pounds bone-in pork shoulder (use pastured, organic pork, if possible)
* 2 tablespoons raw sugar
* 2 tablespoons course sea salt
* 12 ounces bottle of natural ginger beer/ale
* 1 cup organic ketchup
* 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
* 1 teaspoon cumin
* 1 teaspoon onion powder
* 2 teaspoons garlic powder
* 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
* 1/2 cup brandy or bourbon
* 1/2 cup ketjap manis (dark and sweet Indonesian soy sauce)
* 3 tablespoons sriracha sauce
* 3 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced

Preparation:

1. Place pork in a large bowl. Mix the salt and sugar together and rub all over the pork. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 200°F. In a bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients (except for the onions) and mix well.

3. Remove pork from the refrigerator. Have ready a dutch oven or other oven proof pot that will allow the sauce to cover at least half of the pork. I used an 8 qt. stockpot.

4. Place the sliced onions in the pot and put the pork shoulder on top. Pour in the sauce.

5. Place several pieces of foil on top of the pork, sealing in as much of the moisture as possible.

6. Cook for 10-12 hours, turning the pork several times during the process, if possible. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 20 minutes before slicing.

7. Serve slices of the pork with some of the sauce spooned over, and make sure to include some of the onions on the side.

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