Another Fast, Fresh & Easy dish for Sunday and Meatless Monday. We love to cook and eat good food, but some of us don’t like spending all of our weekend in the kitchen, right? I’m working on a whole peck of pepper recipes inspired by The Great Pepper Cookbook, by Melissa’s Produce, so check back if you’re a chile lover, aka chilehead, or looking for a few new recipes with a little kick to add to your repertoire of wholesome, healthy dishes that everyone can enjoy.
Meanwhile, this is a quick dinner infused with the flavors of sweet peppers that can be made in the 20 minutes it takes to cook quinoa. While dicing the colorful mini peppers, my thoughts took me back to the CA Farm Water Coalition tour of Imperial and Coachella Valley that I went on in February and how inspired I was by the passion of all the farmers we met, but especially by Ellen Way of Prime Time as a woman business owner, farmer, supporter, activist, mom, and wife.
A day with Mike Wade, director of CA Farm Water Coalition, and Ellen Way was like getting a crash course in California history, water politics and Agriculture for Dummies in less than six hours. Coachella Valley is referred to as the Winter Salad Bowl. The climate allows two growing seasons: planting in August with harvest from mid November to March followed by transition crops during the hottest summer months. Known as The Pepper People, Prime Time is the largest year-round grower, packer and shipper of multi-colored peppers in the United States.
Prime Time combines open-field and hot house grown peppers which allows them three growing seasons and the ability to provide the marketplace with the highest quality produce 365 days a year, grown and packed under strict food safety standards. Their sales mix includes conventional peppers, organic peppers, and hothouse peppers. These mesh houses are the future for farming in urban areas – they allow farmers to fill the season, offer year-round supply, and grow varieties such as the Holland bell pepper which are prized for their uniform, almost perfect, shape, thick walls, and sweet flavor in a multitude of colors. Prime Time is a partnership of four families dedicated to embracing technological advances in production techniques by employing top agronomists to cultivate the perfect plants, produced in the best growing areas, utilizing GPS and drip irrigation, and building state-of-the-art packing facilities to ensure delivery of the safest and best-tasting produce in the marketplace.
This is the third year of the California drought and its affect on famers, especially in California’s western San Joaquin Valley, is sheer desperation. And, the longer we go without rain here in California the more the impact will be felt around the world in the form of reduced supply and higher prices. With the strange weather patterns we’ve been experiencing – record breaking heat waves in April and May and very little of the usual “May gray” and “June gloom” – meteorologists are saying this is an El Nino year. We’re hopeful that the experts are right and heavy rainfall this winter will help alleviate the drought situation. I’m also thinking we better have our roof inspected before fall.
I used mini sweet peppers in today’s recipe for Quinoa Edamame Pepper Salad dressed with a simple avocado oil and Kaffir Lime vinaigrette complemented by crisp, slightly bitter watercress. As delicious as it is nutritious, this colorful veggie-packed quinoa salad is a perfect choice for a quick weekday meal, Meatless Monday dinner, or to pack for a fun day at the beach or summer picnic – especially since there is no mayo or dairy products involved.
- 3 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 cup shelled cooked edamame
- 2 each red yellow, and orange mini peppers, cored, seeded and chopped
- 2 green onions chopped
- 1/4 cup dried cherries chopped
- 1/4 cup pepitas toasted
- Zest of 1 organic lime
- 1 bunch watercress
- 1/4 cup avocado oil
- 2 tablespoon Chaparral Gardens Kaffir Lime & Ginger Vinegar
- 1 teaspoon California Citrus spice*
Prepare quinoa according to package directions.*
While the quinoa is cooking, microwave or boil water to cook the edamame (unless you bought precooked). Chop the peppers, onions, and dried cherries. Wash the watercress and wrap in paper towels.Toast the pepitas in a small saucepan over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes.
Prepare the dressing by whisking the avocado oil, vinegar and spices together.
Combine all the ingredients in a glass or wooden salad bowl. Serve quinoa salad on a bed of watercress.
* 1 cup quinoa, rinsed, with 1-1/2 cup water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. I don't know why but I've seen too many directions that call for more water and you end up with soggy and/or overcooked quinoa if you cook until all the water is absorbed.
* One of my go-to spice mixtures from Savory Spice Shop.