Quinoa is its own little ecosystem, containing all of the essential amino acids that we must obtain through the diet. Put another way, quinoa brings some good nutrients to the table that the body needs to begin repairing itself. Its mild taste makes it a perfect backdrop for this nicely layered crunchy/chewy portable dish, in which olive oil, citrus, vitamin-rich pistachios, and raisins dance delightfully on the taste buds, and herbs (mint, cumin, and coriander) provide a huge hit of taste and anticancer nutrients.
Shopping for fish can be intimidating. Maybe it’s the fact that half of them are staring at you from behind the counter, as if to say, “Jeez, how did I end up here?” So, if you’re going to do them—and yourself—justice, here’s how to rustle up a fine, fresh fillet. You need to use your eyes and your nose. Look for a cut where the flesh is moist and glistening, with no flat, brown edges. If the fish looks dull, take a pass. Same goes for any fillet with a fishy or ammonia smell. Don’t be shy about asking your fishmonger a few questions, like when the fish came in and from where. Most stores have regular shipments; knowing that schedule in advance can help you plan when to have fish. If black cod were in a band, it would be the bass player: steady, meaty, but not much of a soloist. It benefits from some jazzy front men and especially likes to swing with citrus high notes. You’ll find plenty of those riffs in this dish.
I really should have called this Lentil Inside-Out Salad. Here’s why: With most salads, you pour the dressing on at the end and coat the dish from the outside in. But in this salad, the lentils cool off in the fridge in a bath of dressing—in this case olive oil, vinegar, lemon, and cumin. They absorb all of this wonderful flavor, which is heightened by the addition of red bell pepper, kalamata olives, parsley, and mint.
This Mediterranean delight is like a vacation to the island of Crete without leaving your home. Le Puy lentils are resilient little things that hold their shape well throughout the cooking process, making them perfect for a salad.