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Riads in Morocco

Riads are a traditional Moroccan house, located within an ancient medina (walled city), which is designed around a central courtyard and or/garden. These beautiful homes have been restored to reflect traditional Moroccan decor, but also with the modern amenities you would find in 4 and 5 star hotels.

As you approach a riad from one of Morocco's narrow, labyrinthine streets, you will likely notice that each door looks similar, but also has its own personality. When you open the door to the riad, you will enter in a hallway that does not permit you a glimpse into the heart of the house. This 'layered' effect of walls, doors and hallways are a historical privacy feature for the residents of the house....allowing the outside door to be open to the public, while offering protection for those within...and also creates a sound barrier against the noise of the streets. As you pass from the bustling streets, through the nondescript exterior and into the central courtyard/garden of a riad, you may be surprised and delighted by tranquil, elegant beauty you will find within. A diamond in the rough!

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Peruvian Quinoa Salad

Recipe

Quinoa is a staple “grain-like crop” grown that has a very long history of being very widely consumed in Peru. It’s high in protein and is otherwise nutritionally very dense; it also happens to be very, very delicious.

We have always loved and often eaten quinoa; it has a simple flavor and a lovely slight crunch when cooked just to the point of being barely tender. You see it most commonly in this yellow-white color, but also in beautiful red and black colors. When we went to Peru last year we were fortunate enough to see the beautiful flowering fields everywhere, and enjoyed eating quinoa in many different ways.

This tabbouleh-like salad, very slightly adapted from a great Peruvian cooking source, yanuq.com, is one delicious and wonderful way to enjoy this high-protein and easy to prepare food. It has been very much enjoyed at the 2 Vagabonds parties as a refreshing, light salad and an example of some of the wonderful flavors of Peru

Ingredients

  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped (more to taste)
  • 1 cup parsley leaves, chopped (curly or flat-leaf)
  • ½ cup green onion, white and green part, chopped
  • 2-4 Tbsp. fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed or minced
  • 1 Tbsp. basil, minced
  • ½ cup green olives, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 cup or so sliced hearts of palm
  • Lemon or lime juice, to taste
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup olive oil, to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a medium-large pot over high heat.

In a fine-mesh sieve or in a bowl, carefully rinse quinoa very, very well to rid it of the naturally- occurring bitter substance saponin (unless the package instructions specifically state that this step is unnecessary).

Drain well and add to boiling water. Cook at a low simmer for 10-15 minutes until just barely tender and the little curly tails are just barely beginning to show from the quinoa (I know this sounds crazy—but you’ll see what I mean). Drain well and cool. You can also cook quinoa in a rice cooker just as you would white rice with excellent no-watch, no-drain results.

Combine cooled quinoa, tomatoes, parsley, green onion, mint, garlic, basil, olives, red pepper and hearts of palm in a bowl. Season with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice to taste. Cover and chill for about an hour or so to allow the flavors to blend. Taste to check seasoning, and serve piled high in a bowl or platter.

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