It's Marathon Week

I’d like to start off by saying that it’s been a busy few months. Marathon training has taken up a significant part of my free time, and it’s honestly been hard to keep up with writing on this blog! Having said that, it’s now marathon week and I’m internally a combination of anxious, energetic, exhausted and ruminating. I have moments where I just want to stay inside and focus until the day of the race. But then there are plenty of other things to fill my time. 

A week ago Joel and I went on a camping and backpacking trip to the Smokey Mountains. A-maz-ing! It is absolutely beautiful there. During the week I was only able to go on one run, but a full day’s worth of hiking up a mountain is pretty good training, too. Here we are at the top of Mount Le Conte, inside the National Park.

It’s wonderful the perspective that going on vacation brings. Especially one where your time is spent enjoying life without the conveniences of microwaves, refrigerators and (embarrassingly enough) even showers. Being outdoors really brings life to your body and soul. Joel and I went on a trail run on a path in the mountains that ran right alongside a small river. Who needs an iPod when you have the background soundtrack of real, roaring running water?! We did have to use caution though; if you stare at the view too much you could fall on the rocks. 

This past week I started something I’m calling a “Cookbook Club” with several of my friends. We’re reviewing and using a cookbook or cooking blog, similar to what you’d do with a traditional book club. Then we meet and all bring some tasty food we’ve made based on the recipes in the book or blog. 

For the first meeting we read Yotam Ottolenghi’scookbook, Ottolenghi. I made a version of this Wild Rice Salad. It is a delicious combination of textures, flavors and types of ingredients. It has a nice presentation – it looks appetizing, nutritious and complex. I present to you this lovely rice salad. 

Wild Rice Salad with Pine Nuts and Sour Cherries

Adapted from the Guardian

¾ cup wild rice 
1 cup basmati rice 
½ cup quinoa 
¼ cup skin-on almonds, roughly chopped 
¼ cup pine nuts 
½ cup olive oil
2 onions, peeled and finely sliced 
3 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley 
1 ½ tablespoons roughly chopped basil 
several handfuls of arugula 
½ cup dried sour cherries 
juice of one lemon, plus grated zest of 1 lemon 
2 garlic cloves, crushed 
Salt and black pepper

Cook each of the grains (wild rice, basmati rice and quinoa) in separate containers a few minutes short of the recommended time on the package directions (al dente). Add about a tablespoon of olive oil and salt to each along with water prior to cooking.

Allow the grains to cool to room temperature. 

Put the almonds and pine nuts in a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and some sea salt. Cook on medium-low heat for three to four minutes, stirring. Take off the heat when the pine nuts begin to brown. Don’t burn them! They burn easily and quickly. 

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan and add the chopped onion and chopped garlic. Cook on medium high heat for five minutes, stirring often, until they begin to brown. Drain on paper towel. 

Put all the grains in a mixing bowl, along with the herbs, arugula, onion, garlic, nuts and sour cherries. Mix the lemon juice, zest, remaining olive oil, half a teaspoon of salt and several grinds of fresh pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir. Allow flavors to set at least 15 minutes before serving at room temperature. 

Serves about 6 – 8 as a side.

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