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cherry quinoa butter lettuce tacosSweet cherries. One bite and I bought several pints. The pits don’t get in the way when you are eating one at a time. It becomes somewhat labor intensive when you want to use them in a recipe. I’ve tried a few cherry-pitter torture devices and still haven’t found the knack to pit in one shot. So, while I was in a fairly successful rhythm I pitted more than 4 cups of cherries. My fingers held the red tint from all that cherry juice for days.

The cherries were plentiful at the Salem NH Farmers Market and I wanted to make something for home (a cherry clafoutis) and something for the first Farm-to-Fork Community Cookout we were hosting at the Market. We planned to grill hamburgers, cheeseburgers, sausages, and vegetables, and serve just-boiled corn, and a host of sides and desserts all made by our farmers and vendors.

We’d had some requests for vegetarian options. We featured two of the zucchini recipes from the recent WMUR’s Cook’s Corner episode and I wanted to make some sort of filling to use butter lettuce leaves as the “taco.” Cherries aren’t just for dessert. I turned to my pantry for inspiration and spotted a bag of red quinoa waiting for me.

Quinoa salads are easy to make. I simply used what I had readily available and a delicious vegetarian, gluten-free butter lettuce “taco” was made. People came back for seconds.

These can be made as appetizers, salad or as your main course.

What you need:

  • 2 c cooked quinoa (I used red quinoa in this photo)
  • 1 c chopped fresh sweet fresh cherries, pitted
  • 1/2 c chopped green onions
  • 1/2 c slivered almonds
  • 1/2 c EVOO
  • 1/4 c balsamic vinegar (I used pomegranate flavored)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbs chopped basil
  • 1/2 c goat cheese
  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper

What you do:

  • In lg bowl, combine quinoa, cherries, onions and almonds.
  • In sm bowl mix EVOO, vinegar and lemon juice.
  • Add to quinoa mixture.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Stir in basil.
  • Spread about 1 tbs goat cheese along spine of one lettuce leaf.
  • Top with 2 tbs quinoa mixture.
  • Fold sides of lettuce up to form taco.
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