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Farmer’s Table: Quinoa and Rice Salad with Herbs


By Susan Maslowski

Some herbs thrive in cool spring temperatures. My cilantro reseeded and I have a beautiful patch in the middle of the garden. Cilantro adds flavor to Mexican and Asian dishes. It is quick to bolt when the weather warms, and I won’t get another nice crop again until autumn.

Last year’s parsley wintered over, and I have several lush, curly, green clumps in the raised beds. It won’t be long before it bolts and goes to seed and I will have to sow new plants. Parsley adds flavor and color to many dishes, and it makes an attractive garnish.

Clumps of chives are perennials that come up year after year. I have regular chives and garlic chives. Regular chives have lavender blossoms and garlic chives have cream-colored flowers. The flowers can be eaten and are especially pretty scattered in salads. Chives don’t require much attention and will provide more plants if the seedpods are not removed.

Mints are several inches high and lemon balm, which belongs to the mint family, is big enough to enjoy. Mint is great in iced tea and an essential ingredient in mojitos and mint juleps.

Like cilantro, new dill plants come up in early spring from seeds dropped by last year’s plants. I use a lot of dill in Polish dishes like borsht (beet soup), cucumber salad, baked fish and Polish dill pickles.

I have several types of thyme including Russian, regular and lemon. The tiny leaves are delicious with meat and in sauces.

The oregano and marjoram are ready to be cut and enjoyed. Marjoram is oregano’s mild cousin. It is delightful in chicken and lamb recipes and can be added to sausage.

Sage and lavender plants received a good pruning and the plants are coming on with great vigor. Sage adds a peppery flavor to sausage and dressings. Lavender is good in everything from lemonade to cake.

My rosemary doesn’t always make it through an excessively cold winter, but, this year, I have a very healthy plant that will provide plenty of aromatic sprigs for meat, vegetable, bread and cookie recipes. Rosemary and lavender can be used interchangeably in most recipes.

Fennel plants are beginning to camouflage the dog’s pen with their green and bronze fronds. Besides adding visual interest to the garden, bronze fennel can be used in place of green fennel in any recipe. I often stuff the cavities of whole fish with fennel leaves. I have read that milk steeped with bronze fennel can be used in baked goods and offers a delicate anise flavor to homemade ice cream.

One of the benefits of growing fennel is that it attracts the Eastern Black Swallowtail. It becomes a host plant where the butterfly lays eggs. The baby caterpillars (larvae) eat on the plant until they get ready to pupate.

Herbs require little work to grow. They are a beautiful addition to any garden and they can transform a simple recipe into a delectable dish.

I was delighted to find a rice and quinoa salad recipe that called for several herbs that are growing in my garden. The salad has a fresh spring taste packed with lots of flavor.

Quinoa and Rice Salad with Herbs

½ cup rice*

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well*

1 bay leaf

¼ teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 small onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

¼ cup parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped chives

Freshly ground black pepper

Cook rice according to package instructions, until water is absorbed and rice is tender.

Meanwhile, combine quinoa, bay leaf, ¼ teaspoon salt, and 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and remove bay leaf.

Return quinoa to saucepan. Allow to cool for 15 minutes and fluff with a fork. Transfer to a large bowl. Mix in rice.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft. Add garlic and cumin seeds. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often.

Pour olive oil mixture over quinoa/rice mixture. Stir in additional 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, cilantro, parsley and chives. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

*You can use any color of rice or quinoa to make this healthy salad. I used a rice/quinoa blend that I found at Aldi.

The Putnam Farmers Market will open for the season, Saturday, May 6 at the entrance to Valley Park in Hurricane. Hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. In addition to finding fresh produce, eggs, meat and honey, the market has numerous activities planned throughout the coming weeks.

For questions about recipes or other information, contact Susan Maslowski at or go to our websites at and Susan also has a Farmer’s Table Facebook page.


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