One of the funniest sketches on the hit TV series “Portlandia” is when the two stereotypical Portlandians sit down at a restaurant to order a chicken for dinner, but interrogate the server on the the chicken’s LinkedIn profile before they are willing to even consider ordering it. Welcome to the locavore movement, Pacific Northwest-style.
Portland is the epicenter of the locavore movement, a place where your chef, cook, baker, barista, ice cream scooper, have hunted, gathered, farmed, foraged, and sourced the ingredients from within a 100 mile radius to produce the “artisanal” delight that you may be consuming after having carefully considered whether your conscience, moral compass and personal digestive system enzymes allow you to actually eat it.
Hipster-baiting sitcom Portlandia is funny even if you aren’t vegan, or a hipster, or an in-denial hipster who just happens to like exotic piercings, colorful hair, local organic produce and fair-trade, single-origin, micro-roasted Rwandan, hemp milk lattes. This is a place where it’s OK to laugh at your own first world conundrums… Portlandia really is just a state of mind… and while the TV series may hyperbolize and satirize the details of life in this Oregon city just a bit, the one thing it gets right is the portrayal of its amazing, emerging, dynamic and DELICIOUS dining scene.
Using fresh, local, seasonal ingredients is a religion in Portland, and most of the Pacific Northwest. This salad, adapted from a recipe in the new Portlandia cookbook, pays homage to that farm to table movement. Using freshly picked heirloom tomatoes (Ridgefield, WA), sweet corn (Snohomish, WA), and sugar snap peas (Snoqualmie Valley, WA) this Southwest flavors meets Northwest produce-inspired salad is the summer’s bounty on a plate.
This salad is perfectly composed, balancing the sweetness of corn and tomatoes with the tanginess of snap peas, the heat of jalapeño, the tart, freshness of lime and the earthy, toasty goodness of quinoa. It can be served as an appetizer or with a nice, crusty bread and a crisp, dry, white wine (Pinot Gris from the Willamette Valley perhaps), makes a light summer’s night dinner.
Yield: 6 servings
1/4 cup quinoa
1 large jalapeño pepper
2 ears of corn, shucked
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. water
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 large scallion, white and green parts thinly sliced separately
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro, plus leaves for garnish
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1.5 lbs. mixed heirloom tomatoes-halved, quartered or sliced, depending on size
2. oz sugar snap peas, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 radishes, thinly sliced into discs
1 avocado, large diced
Heat a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the rinsed and drained quinoa and stir frequently until it’s crunch and it starts to pop, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Light a grill or preheat a grill pan and grill the jalapeño and corn over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until lightly charred all over, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cool. Peel, seed and chop the jalapeño. Cut the corn kernels off the cob; discard the cob.
In a mini food processor, combine the olive oil with the water, lime juice, scallion whites, chopped cilantro, salt, jalapeño and 1/4 of the grilled corn kernels. Pulse until a chunky dressing forms.
In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes with snap peas, scallion greens, the remaining corn, radishes, avocado, and half of the dressing. Toss to coat and transfer to a serving platter. Spoon the remaining dressing over the salad and garnish with cilantro leaves and the toasted quinoa. Serve immediately.
MAKE AHEAD: The jalapeño-corn dressing can be refrigerated overnight.
Recipe adapted from the Portlandia cookbook