It’s full on autumn, autumn flirting with winter even, and I’m finally back home here in Tennessee for a month. If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve been wandering as of late. There are seasons for digging your roots in deep, seasons for sprouting upward, no fear of heights. But it’s good to be home in the South during my favorite season, the season of words like crisp and smoke and everything shivering, a last hurrah of leaves aflame. Well, usually. The pernicious leaves remained green despite it being October. But the air beat of fall regardless, so I took a drive into the mountains my bones call home for a creekside Appalachian picnic complete with tiny fennel olive oil cakes and this quinoa, fennel, and parsnip salad with a raw honey vinaigrette & 5-minute eggs, the recipe for which I’ve included after the jump. My partner for this little expedition, GMC, lent me a rather swanky Yukon for the trek, and given that I come from a third generation car dealing family (I’m the only one that took a different route…), I couldn’t resist the opportunity to try out a truck that could actually fit the large amounts of things & humans I haul to and fro events and workshops, dinners and gatherings of all sorts.
And, not gonna lie, heated seats, a back-up camera, and bluetooth so that I can inflict my inane, up-beat music on my dear friends cord-free are all selling points. So, we loaded up the back (after reacting to the button that automatically lowers the seats in the back like confused, medieval peasants equal parts mystified, thrilled, & frightened by the technology) with wicker and woven grass filled with all manner of picnicking goodies and headed to Blue Hole, an exceedingly pretty spot near my house complete with giant boulders and crystal clear, blue water that I, in a different life, used visit to both drink tall boys and kiss human boys. This was much better, and I have a strong preference for this life. This picnic was a little reclaiming of this spot, a re-christening.
We shared sparkling cider, cake, Tennessee ham sandwiches, a cheese plate featuring two of my local favorites, Sequatchie Cove Shakerag Blue and Noble Spring’s goat feta, as well as local sopressata from Main Street Meats here in Chattanooga. And some pimento cheese. Cause Tennessee, y’all. The main affair was my new favorite whole grain salad, a mix of quinoa and caramelized roasted parsnip & fennel with the crunch of sprouts, tamari roasted pepitas, shaved shallot, and all soaked in a simple raw honey vinaigrette with luscious 5-minute eggs on top.
- 1 1/2 cups dried quinoa, rinsed
- 1 medium fennel bulb, cored & cut into bite sized chunks
- 1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
- 1 firm, tart apple, cut into 1/2" chunks (optional)
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup sprouts like sunflower or alfaalfa
- 1/4 cup tamari roasted or plain pepitas
- 1 small shallot, shaved or sliced thin
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- zest of one lemon
- juice of two lemons or 1/4 cup
- 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup raw honey (or to taste, sometimes I use as much as 1/3 cup)
- a three finger pinch of kosher salt (or to taste)
- Heat the oven to 450°F (~225°C). Toss the fennel and parsnip with the olive oil on a sheet tray and season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Set aside while until the oven comes to temp, then roast 25 minutes, stirring half way through, or until veggies are browned and tender but not mushy. You want them to hold up in the salad and still have a little bite. If they're tender but not yet brown, pop them under the broiler for a minute or two to get color on them and avoid over-cooking.
- Meanwhile, cook the quinoa. In a medium pot combine the quinoa with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat, let sit an additional five minutes covered, and then fluff with a fork.
- While the quinoa is cooking, make your five minute eggs. Cover eggs in cold water, bring to a boil, immediately remove from the heat, cover the pot, and allow them to sit for five minutes. While they sit, prepare an ice bath. Gently remove the eggs to the ice bath after the five minutes and peel once cool. Slice in half and sprinkle with a bit of course salt and set aside.
- Make the dressing. Combine all ingredients except for the olive oil in a bowl and then slowly whisk in the oil to emulsify.
- Once the quinoa and vegetables are cooked, allow them to both cool to room temperature and then combine them in a bowl. Toss in the apples, if using. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir to combine thoroughly. Taste and add additional salt or lemon juice if desired.
- Top the salad with the sprouts, pepitas, feta, shaved shallot, chopped parsley, and eggs. Serve at room temperature.
The sandwich breakdown:
Tennessee country ham, sliced thin with quick pickled shallot (in a honey apple cider vinegar brine), parsley, and cranberry chevre. Would also work with a bit of jam and chevre if you can’t get your hand on the cranberry coated logs of it. On baguette. So simple, but so good.
Disclaimer: This was a sponsored post, and I was compensated for my participation. As per usual the opinions & ramblings herein are all my own.