The Joy of Hosting

Recipe 5: Potluck Quinoa
Victories 5, 5.1, and 5.2: Getting fluffy and separated grains by spreading them out on a baking tray as soon as they’re done cooking; “planning ahead” so that you have something healthy and simple at the ready; hosting a friend at home and enjoying it with her

I’m beginning to share more and more of the food I cook with others. Sascha is a picky eater but couldn’t be more supportive of my cooking and projects I undertake. But in general, I just feel more confident about my cooking.

I first cooked this recipe a week ago and really enjoyed it, not just the result, but the process of making it as well. I find that I enjoy cooking a dish that requires you to transfer one cooked ingredient into another container to set it aside, then put another cooking utensil on the stove to cook another ingredient, and then bring everything together in the end. Little easy steps that keep you busy and focused gratify me for some reason. I guess it’s like succeeding over and over again before you reach the destination. Cooking this dish reminded me of the feelings I got while I was making Heidi Swanson’s chickpea stew from Genius Recipes, where you have to cook the broth in a pot, then whisk together another element in a bowl, then stir a cup of the broth into this new mixture, and everything meets back in the pot at the end.

This dish lives up to its name. It’s perfect for sharing. It’s so easy to make and delicious and healthy that it would be silly not to make it for a good friend with a broken leg who needs a place to stay on short notice.

So I planned ahead and cooked it the night before she arrived. If you’ve flown enough times, you know thoughts of food are never far away once you’ve arrived. As we were having our robust catch-up session, where it seemed she had forgotten her hunger, I prepared our meal. One joy needs not be interrupted for the sake of another. She loved the smell as the quinoa warmed in the microwave—hazelnuts and its oil. Both our dishes were dressed with rocket leaves, extra-virgin olive oil, and lemon juice. I also crumbled some goat cheese into mine as the recipe instructs.

We finished the whole thing together (the recipe serves 4), not too ravenously, more as a side dish to our conversation. Or was it another way around? We continued to eat, first going back to breakfast with a bowl of granola with milk, then finishing with the sweet, sweet langsats, our hands sticky from peeling their skin.

Writing about it now, just hours after the meal, I can’t help but be reminded of the final paragraphs of Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal:

“Armandino came to our table carrying a bowl of dark, wet walnuts, still in their shells, and two half glasses of red wine. We explained that we were too full and had a distance still to drive that day. Armandino pressed the wineglasses down and cleared a space between them for the bowl of walnuts, and another for their shells. It would be better, he said, if we left lunch with the tastes of the next meal already in our mouths.

Cookies and lemon liqueur said nothing of dinner, but half sweet walnuts and wine began to whisper. Something of another hunger, another meal, of again finding a place to sit together, again finding something good to eat.

We nodded, understanding then, and began to crack and peel the nuts, still wet inside their shells.

We stopped talking and just peeled, watching thin filaments of walnuts skin coming off when either of us hit on the spots with good focus. We sipped our wine slowly and remained there, peeling and sipping, getting no drunker but more ready, until the sky began to darken, and it made sense for us to go.”