Shaved Fennel, Apple and Crispy Quinoa

I shouldn’t complain. I really shouldn’t.  Our kitchen is quite lovely, especially for a city apartment.  I’ve heard about (in fact, I’ve cooked in) some tiny spaces that barely fit one or two people.  We actually have a table in ours and have managed to fit 15+ folks in the room (standing, of course).  For me, the real challenge comes with the light. If you’re just eating in there, it’s fine… but for those of us who obsessively take pictures of our food, well, a well-lit kitchen is key.

Rarely do I photograph dishes in our kitchen, instead I move things out to our living room or our back deck to get the shots. It often means I need to get creative, shooting things close up or using textured backgrounds to make it pop.

If I need to work on a bigger project, I pack up bags of props, my lenses and any ingredients and I take a trip to my mother-in-law’s to use her newly renovated kitchen.  The light in there is magnificent and with all the beautiful appliances, I get a little spoiled by the experience.

This is what I did just last week on a day when I needed to do a shoot for a client and wanted to also work on a dish for the OXO “Very Vegetarian Recipe Challenge,” which I’m really thrilled to be a part of. The guidelines for this competition are as follows: use three of the six OXO gadgets they were so generous to send participants to make a vegetarian dish that can serve at least 2 people, be made in 30 minutes or less, and incorporated veggies, a starch/grain, and dairy. Sounds easy, right? Well, we also couldn’t use certain things, like blenders, a Dutch oven, or my favorite kitchen appliance, a food processor (WAH!!!!). But, you know what? When forced to think outside the box, you tend to do your best work and, I have to say, I think this was one fantastic salad.  In fact, I plan on putting this on my Thanksgiving menu.  Yeah, it was that good.

  • October 1, 2013 - 5:28 am

    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar - I love the look of that crispy quinoa!! Yum!ReplyCancel

  • October 1, 2013 - 8:05 am

    Joanne - Thankfully my kitchen has a whole wall of windows, but my last kitchen had none. At all. So I feel you.

    What a gorgeous salad! I love these autumnal flavors.ReplyCancel

  • October 1, 2013 - 8:16 am

    Liz @ The Lemon Bowl - I adore fennel but have never paired it with apples – brilliant.ReplyCancel

  • October 1, 2013 - 8:56 am

    Liren - Perfect for this Indian summer! Lovely!ReplyCancel

  • October 1, 2013 - 9:14 am

    Tieghan - Crispy quinoa? Heck yes! This sounds awesome and is so pretty!ReplyCancel

  • October 1, 2013 - 9:19 am

    dixya| food, pleasure, and health - im always struggling to find the perfect light for picture :( this salad looks so pretty and all the ingredients are so fresh.ReplyCancel

  • October 1, 2013 - 9:20 am

    Dan from Platter Talk - I am loving this post. It’s fresh, it’s beautifully presented and photographed, and it is original. Fantastic job, wish I had a plate of this in front of me!!ReplyCancel

  • October 1, 2013 - 9:30 am

    Sommer @ ASpicyPerspective - Beautiful salad, Brian!ReplyCancel

  • October 1, 2013 - 10:09 am

    Bev @ Bev Cooks - CRISPY quinoa. You = so rad.ReplyCancel

  • October 1, 2013 - 11:22 am

    Alina - Oh my goodness, this is gorgeous. I can’t wait to try making this salad!!ReplyCancel

  • October 1, 2013 - 11:44 am

    Kulsum Kunwa - why are you after my heart? This salad is totally my thing!!ReplyCancel

  • October 1, 2013 - 12:15 pm

    alison @ Ingredients, Inc. - so pretty! Off to pin thisReplyCancel

  • October 1, 2013 - 2:38 pm

    Eileen - I love the texture contrast between the ingredients in this salad! It sounds so satisfying to eat. :) And hooray for new season apples!ReplyCancel

  • October 1, 2013 - 7:39 pm

    Denise Woodward - This is the perfect side dish, Brian. We have been taking in huge amounts of fennel recently as well as Quinoa. Off to buy some apples ….. :)ReplyCancel

  • October 1, 2013 - 10:46 pm

    Monet - This looks delicious, Brian. I love how the quinoa is more of a garnish. And I’m right there with you…I often go to my parent’s house when I want to feel spoiled. Their kitchen is so very lovely. Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • October 2, 2013 - 1:28 am

    Michelle - This is my kind of salad. I’ve been dreaming of a mandolin for ages!

    Beautiful photos! I always cringe during this time of year — some of the best food and some of the harshest light!ReplyCancel

  • October 2, 2013 - 9:26 am

    Andrew Frishman - Mmnnn… I LOVES me some quinoa, especially when it’s crispy!

    Ojala que hay bastante quinoa para las indigenasReplyCancel

  • October 2, 2013 - 9:43 am

    Shaina - That is one good-looking salad. I love the red quinoa contrasting against the apple and fennel.

    My kitchen gets decent light, and in the summer I can make it work. However, these days my window is from 1-2:30p before the shadows become slanted and sulky and the light no longer reaches beyond the one foot of space directly in front of the window (where the sink is). Sometimes I shoot in the sink. Wonderful that you have a backup kitchen, but still, I know the frustrations of scarce natural light.ReplyCancel

  • October 2, 2013 - 11:36 am

    Carolyn - Your living room does get some great light, but man, I cannot believe you pack everything up and head somewhere else! It’s all I can do sometimes to set up in my dining room. Love the lovely salad.ReplyCancel

  • October 2, 2013 - 11:45 am

    Kay Frishman - Yummy!
    You are welcome to come to your mother-in-law’s kitchen any time!!!!

  • October 2, 2013 - 12:41 pm

    Alexandra - This is a recipe that i will definitely try!ReplyCancel

  • October 2, 2013 - 12:43 pm

    Francesca - Looks great, never thought to crisp quinoa !ReplyCancel

  • October 3, 2013 - 9:33 am

    Jeanne @ Cooksister - Fennel makes everything better… Whether raw or cooked. I don’t eat enough quinoa – and certainly have never considered crisp quinoa – obviously an oversight! Lovely pics, as always.ReplyCancel

  • October 3, 2013 - 12:41 pm

    Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence - Saw this on Instagram and I thought to myself, YUM! Love the idea of the crispy quinoa.ReplyCancel

  • October 4, 2013 - 4:02 pm

    Erin @ MyRecipes - Love the idea of fried quinoa—genius!ReplyCancel

  • October 6, 2013 - 2:12 pm

    Anne Griffin - Wow! This is a pretty amazing idea. I would never have thought to crisp up quinoa, but now that I have seen it, I don’t know how I didn’t see it before.ReplyCancel

  • October 7, 2013 - 9:09 am

    Irene @ {a swoonful of sugar} - The flavours seem so simple and clean yet it looks gorgeous on the plate! Love this, thanks for the ideaReplyCancel

  • October 7, 2013 - 11:50 am

    Lora @cakeduchess - I know I should eat quinoa more often…this gives me a reason to! Love that it is a garnish and not the main feature of this fabulous salad, Brian:)ReplyCancel

  • October 7, 2013 - 10:37 pm

    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen - The crispy quinoa is such a nice idea!ReplyCancel

  • October 8, 2013 - 2:17 pm

    Allison Hooper - We interviewed a guy for a sales job yesterday and he said that you are the “top” in Boston. Indeed. Your photos and words are lovely. I am hooked. Co-founder of Vermont Creamery, I am a little provincial on my hill farm in Vermont but when I find a good read, I follow. Come visit us!ReplyCancel

  • October 10, 2013 - 6:50 am

    Adri Barr Crocetti - This is a beautiful salad. It looks like you made good use of the OXO tools. I want to eat this.ReplyCancel

  • October 23, 2013 - 11:48 am

    Stephanie Hunter - The first reason I love the show is her family values. Second, it is good old down home cooking. The recipes look easy and delicious. Would I love to win one of her cookbooks? You betcha!!ReplyCancel

  • October 23, 2013 - 4:57 pm

    Delicia Batista Asencio - All of this looks great!!! And I would love The Pioneer Woman – Ree Drummond’s new cookbook! I have her first two and use them all the time.ReplyCancel

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