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Yogurt with Toasted Quinoa, Dates, and Nuts: Countdown

June 11th, 2012

I try to plan at least one trip per year as a way to reward myself for being a working person the rest of the time, and also so that I can enjoy the incredible feeling of counting down towards a few days off, new experiences, and a reason to eat double what I’d normally eat in a week. Whether I’m headed on a big overseas journey or just a quick long weekend trip, I find that one of the things I look forward to most is the countdown, the anticipation.

Our trip to Sicily is now only two weeks away. The hotels are booked. The rental cars are reserved. My Italian-English dictionary is at the ready. And I have just one Pairings Box recipe (for the July box) left to test and photograph before feeling like Turntable Kitchen is well taken care of in my absence. I’ll be thrilled to introduce you all to a couple of contributors to the site, who will be sharing a few of their recipes while we’re away. In addition to the thrill I experience when I see new places, one of the most important reasons I travel is to find inspiration — for cooking, for writing, for decorating, and for living.

Truth be told, in between spending one third of the month of May in New York and working on a few freelance assignments (not to mention, Pairings Boxes), I’ve been a little low energy. Like everyone, I go through creative spurts and doldrums, and lately, having a free night at home has actually meant lots of easy, thrown-together dinners. There are a lot of Bi-Rite chicken sausages (our favorite), fresh fruit (especially for dessert), and quick-sauteed summer vegetables. But this weekend, I had a re-awakening. A creative purge, so to speak. I spent most of the day Saturday cooking, and while Sunday was spent at an all-day photo shoot for a magazine story, I enjoyed that “I still got it” feeling.

With writing, cooking, and any other creative process, I think it’s important to recognize that your mind does need a break sometimes. A time off to screw around and go to the beach, drink a few cocktails, eat some chips and salsa. Feeling guilty about it is silly, and wrong. Because, inevitably, these mental breaks help us have those reawakenings, those moments of greatness, those breakthroughs you wouldn’t otherwise have, if you were still feverishly spinning your wheels. So, whatever it is you do to recharge, I hope you have at least one thing in your future that merits a countdown because I assure you, you could probably use one.

Although this trip is still a few months away, I’m also counting down to a quick jaunt up to Seattle for a friend’s wedding, and an opportunity to see some great friends. I’ve been dreaming about checking out Sitka & Spruce ever since Jess recommended it to me last year. This year, I hope I’ll make it. And, in anticipation, I had this for breakfast the other day; a completely unique spin on my everyday yogurt and granola. And, another countdown will begin, soon.

Yogurt with Toasted Quinoa, Dates, and Nuts
inspired by Sitka & Spruce, adapted from Food52
*This recipe serves one. Double or quadruple the ingredients based on the number of people you are serving

1/2 tablespoon of black or red quinoa* (uncooked)
5 shelled, raw, unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped
5 raw, unsalted almonds, roughly chopped
1/2 cup of Greek yogurt
2 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest
French Gray Sea Salt, to taste
fruity olive oil
honey

1. Add the quinoa to a dry skillet and heat over medium heat. Toast the quinoa, stirring occasionally, until it begins to pop. Once it starts popping, transfer it to a small bowl and set aside.
2. Add the chopped nuts to the same skillet and carefully toast, stirring occasionally, until they begin to let off an aroma. Watch closely so as not to burn the nuts. When toasted, transfer the nuts to a small bowl.
3. Scoop the yogurt into the center of a plate. Sprinkle with nuts, quinoa, dates, and a pinch of salt. Toss on some lemon zest, and give the dish a light drizzle of olive oil. Then, drizzle with about a tablespoon of honey. You can choose to omit the honey, but I personally love the extra sweetness it adds and find it to be a nice contrast to the tart yogurt and the fruity olive oil.

*Pairings Box subscribers are receiving black quinoa in their June Pairings Box. There’s still time to order your June Pairings Box, but you better act quick; we will no longer be accepting new subscribers after June 14th! Subscribe today.

Musical Pairings: The Coasts – The Coasts + Yogurt with Toasted Quinoa, Dates, and Nuts

More on the Turntable.


  • http://cookieandkate.com/ Cookie and Kate

    Love Greek yogurt made decadent like this. I’m so excited for you to go on your trip, you deserve the break! I find that when I overextend myself, my brain takes an involuntary leave of absence. Yesterday I intended to get a bunch of posts all ready to go, but after margarita tastings for one of them we decided to go to the pool. I’d still call it a success!

  • http://www.eatthispoem.com/ Nicole @Eat This Poem

    Ok, love this. First of all, I can’t wait to live vicariously through your trip to Sicily, and second, I totally get what you mean about needing a break. I feel like I’m just coming out of a slower period creatively, but with a lot more energy heading into summer. Breaks are completely needed. I have to remind myself some days that it’s ok not to look at my blog stats, have a post prepped, or read the latest cookbook. I’m sure we’ll all benefit from the inspiration you’ll gather in Italy!

  • http://www.ladomestique.com Jess O’Toole

    I’m such a fan of the drama black quinoa adds to the plate, and the plate you’ve presented looks so tasty! Your upcoming trip to Sicily is so exciting! Yesterday I started my own countdown- it was 30 days till I turn 30. Looking forward to what the next decade will bring. :)

  • http://londonbakes.blogspot.com Kathryn

    My brother just came back from a trip to Siciliy and had the most amazing time, I can’t wait to hear about your trip! I love this spin on greek yogurt, I’m pretty sure I have all the ingredients in my kitchen so I’m excited to give this a try!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    I have so been there, and I agree that your weekend sounds like a success (even if you didn’t get a bunch of blog posts prepped!). We all deserve a break sometimes!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thank you so much, Nicole! I find slow creative periods to be incredibly frustrating because they make me question if I’ll ever come out of it. Will I ever be inspired again? Will I be able to share things that other people will get excited about? But, I think it’s important to remember that it can actually be beneficial to switch to a blank canvas…and start fresh after a nice break. I can’t wait to soak up inspiration in Italy!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    I’m glad you liked my choice of black! I also love how nutty black quinoa tastes, as opposed to its lighter-colored brethren. 30 to 30! Now that’s a countdown that’s surely worth celebrating. I can only imagine all of the wonderful things ahead.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    I love hearing that! It’s always nice to hear positive things about places you’re going to visit. Speaking of….we’ll be making a very brief stop in London (just a day on the way to and on the way from Sicily). If you have any recs, particularly around East London, as that’s where we’ll be staying, I would very much appreciate them! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  • http://londonbakes.blogspot.com Kathryn

    Of course, always happy to provide recommendations! If you’re staying out East, one place that may be worth a visit is Brick Lane with all of its wonderful Indian/Bangladeshi restaurants; definitely a true London experience. My personal favourite is one called Aladin. Another great place Tayyabs which is near Whitechapel which is another Indian restaurant but which does the most amazing (and famous) mixed grills. If you’re not so keen on Indian, I’ve heard good things about Pizza East in Shoreditch although as you’re off to Sicily, you may want to stay away from pizza…

    Hope that helps, I’m sure I can come up with some non-Indian recommendations as well if you want!

  • http://twitter.com/veronicachan Veronica Chan

    I just bought a bag of Chocolate Quinoa Pop from a Peruvian store in Queens a couple weeks ago, it’s kind of like Cocoa Puffs but made with quinoa, but I never thought to pop them myself. That’s a great idea! Anyways, hope you two have fun in Sicily! Safe travels.

  • http://www.dulanotes.com/ Nicole

    This is beautiful, Kasey! I will be trying it soon. Have SO MUCH fun on your vacation! I’m looking forward to hearing about it and seeing Sicily through your eyes. Safe travels!

  • http://tlt-thelittlethings.com/ Denise

    Totally agree about that break you sometimes just really need. Sicily is supposed to be great and gorgeous too. So is this yogurt with quinoa; I love how healthy and delicious it looks, great start of the day!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Woah, that sounds awesome! I might need to look into that! The popping is easy peasy!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thank you, lovely!!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thanks, Denise! I’ve heard the same things. I’m so excited!

  • Heather Wetzel

    this looks extra tasty. i’ve heard lots of good things about sitka and spruce. have never thought of toasting (rather than cooking in water/etc) quinoa.

    also, can’t wait to hear about the trip to sicily. we’ve had lots of east coast trips lately but now we’re counting down to greece in september. enjoy! and looking forward to hearing of the other countdowns, too ;) .

  • Leonora Stevens

    Yay can not wait to see you both so soon! We also went to Sitka+Spruce for the first time a couple weeks ago and it was absolutely excellent. Enjoy xx

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Ohhh Greece! That sounds fabulous. I’m been dreaming of going there for ages! Have a wonderful time!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Yes! I can’t wait!!!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thanks for the fantastic suggestions, Kathryn!! I’m really excited to check out Brick Lane.

  • http://twitter.com/sweetamandine Jess Fechtor

    I had yogurt, dates, and toasted quinoa for breakfast this morning, and thought of you and this post. My recent addition – which, actually, is how they served it at Sitka & Spruce: pomegranate molasses. So good!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    This has become one of my latest addictions. I keep meaning to stock up on pomegranate molasses – this just might be the kicker.