Weather befitting late spring has been a little lacking here in Vancouver. But I am not daunted. I bring summer to my plate! I bought my first barbecue about a month ago, and the novelty has yet to wear off. How could it? This miraculous contraption transforms humble vegetables into a feast for the senses. Zucchini, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and corn become delectably juicy and soul-satisfying morsels that simply scream “summer is here!”
But you probably already knew that. It is no secret that grilling food takes it to another level. I’m just new at it.
I am reminded of an article, Chris Dummitt’s “Finding a Place for Father: Selling the Barbecue in Post-war Canada,” from one of my history classes. Dummitt argues that men in post-war Canada were expected to be more than just the family’s breadwinner, despite the usual 1950s gender stereotypes. He argues that a father was supposed to participate in family life and the barbecue was marketed as the gendered space in which he could achieve that. Dummitt finds that after the Second World War, advertisers cultivated the idea that barbecuing was a manly activity, underlining the fact that all other cooking activities were women’s work: when a man barbecued, he made a special, celebrated appearance in food preparation.
I remember enjoying Dummitt’s article and being amused by the thought of some sort of high-level conspiracy to convince men that cooking for one’s family is okay, as long as heavy-duty tools, fire and meat are involved. I also couldn’t help but wonder if men and people in general just like cooking with fire. Did they need extensive ad campaigns to convince the Canadian public that barbecuing is awesome?
I find it interesting that barbecuing is still a somewhat gendered activity. It certainly was last night at my house! Jack manned the barbecue while I prepared the side dishes, such as this summery Mediterranean Quinoa salad. It combines a lot of the flavours I enjoy, and is a great way to get a little more protein and fibre-rich quinoa into your diet!
3 cups cooked quinoa, cooled (I always add salt or bouillon while cooking)
1 yellow bell pepper, cut in bite-size pieces
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup jarred pitted kalamata olives, halved
1 1/2 cups fennel, thinly sliced and roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 cup fresh basil, finely chopped and loosely packed
3/4 cup italian parsley, finely chopped and loosely packed
1/2 a lemon, juiced
2 tbsp. cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
Combine everything in a bowl and toss well.
Taste, and add more salt, pepper and lemon as you think best. I added a little more salt.
If possible, make this salad a couple hours before serving so the flavours can combine.
Served 9 people as a salad course, with a little left over. Tastes good the next day too! This would be a great nutritious lunch to take to work.