The move to Charlotte still fresh in my mind and France was already calling me.
A quick trip for a milestone birthday, a family visit and to recharge my French batteries.
And despite the gray, rainy, drab spring weather covering Europe throughout the month of May, we found the time to cook, visit, laugh, eat and use our umbrellas.
Many photos, memories and the story of a tabbouleh.
Magically, the sun came out at two distinct times during the trip.
As we were about to sit down for the birthday lunch – shinning brightly in the garden, calling us to delay lunch time and play in the garden.
And during a Parisian weekend as I explored new places and discovered new bites.
The feeling of being stuck inside when it’s cold and rainy outside.
The joy in everyone’s eyes when the call of the first sun rays hit the windows.
Tous dehors !
And with the amount of bouton-d’ors - buttercups – sprinkled in the fields showing us yellow dots all around, it was a celebration of all things yellow, happy and bright.
Despite all this, I still managed to enjoy the changing seasonal menu of L’Alchimie.
The quaint and quirky setting of Colorova Pâtisserie along with their tempting pastries.
The elegant design and honey-roasted pigeon at Le Quinze.
And an unusual mango éclair sprinkled with pansies at L’Éclair de Génie. When art meets food.
And then came the tabbouleh.
A secret but not-so-secret recipe.
Inspired by a recipe from “T.”.
A spring dish, a green plate, a yearly tabbouleh to prepare around that time of year.
A tabbouleh inspired by many springs. By a lifetime of many springs.
Rain, cold and gray – et si on faisait un taboulé ?
Yes, let’s make a tabbouleh! Un taboulé de couscous.
I knew I had to make something similar when I got home. A quinoa version.
And a southern maple cider vinaigrette with mustard was truly a good pairing as a way to celebrate new influences.
Mint-Infused Quinoa Tabbouleh with Peas and Maple Cider Vinaigrette
2 cups + 1/3 cup (553 ml) of water
50-60 mint leaves (whole) + 30 extra leaves (chopped)
3/4 cup (110 g) of peas, fresh or frozen
1 cup (200 g) quinoa, uncooked (white, red, or mixed)
1 Tbsp of summer savory, chopped
1 Tbsp of lemon thyme, chopped
1.5 Tbsp of flat-leaf parsley (or chervil), chopped
7 Tbsp of olive oil
1 teaspoon of strong French mustard
2 Tbsp of maple syrup, medium amber
4 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar
sea salt and pepper
4 Tbsp of unsalted, dry toasted slivered almonds
zest of 1 organic lemon (optional: add the juice of the lemon for an extra lemony flavor)
Prepare a mint herbal tea-like water as a base for cooking the peas and quinoa later.
Bring the water to a boil with 50-60 mint leaves in a saucepan. Boil for 5 minutes. Cover with a lid, remove from the heat and infuse for 15-20 min.
Squeeze out the excess water from the leaves with a spatula or a spoon and discard the leaves.
Bring the mint herbal water back to a boil. Cook the peas for 2 min, if frozen, or 3-4 min if fresh.
Strain the peas in a colander and over a bowl – do not discard the mint water and keep it aside in the bowl.
Run cold water over the peas in the colander to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
Put the mint water back in the saucepan. Rinse the quinoa throughly in cold water. Place the rinsed quinoa in the mint water and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all water is absorbed – about 10-13 min.
When done, fluff the quinoa with a fork and let cool in a bowl.
Prepare the vinaigrette in a small bowl by whisking the summer savory, lemon thyme, parsley and oil together. Whisk until well mixed.
Add the mustard, maple syrup and apple cider vinegar, sea salt and pepper while continuing to whisk.
Pour the vinaigrette over the cooked quinoa and mix well.
Add the peas, almonds, remaining chopped mint leaves and the lemon zest. Mix delicately so the peas don’t get mashed.
Cover and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve cold.