Mediterranean Quinoa

For work I go to Padova, a nearby city, a couple times a week and so I have to think of easy, portable meals to take with me. There are a few criteria that these meals must meet:

1) Stand up to 1-hour train rides and hot weather

2) Healthy and not leave me weighed down for work. It’s hard to translate while lethargic and stuffed to the brim.

3) Delicious and easy to prepare

This scrumptious quinoa dish meets all of these requirements, and quinoa is really just my favorite grain, but feel free to sub in your favorite ( I think that farro, millet or orzo pasta would work well here.) Roasting the onions and cherry tomatoes imparts a sweet caramelization to them and the sprinkle of olives and shavings of grana adds another dimension to the dish, contrasting nicely with the sweet roasted vegetables.

To note: sorry about the bougie (haha- dafina!) mention of the specific type of olive (taggiasca), but these are really delicious and if you find them in a specialty store or maybe even in the regular supermarket, they are worth a try! They have a sweeter taste than other dark purple olives (such as kalamata) and are very tiny and add great depth to any mediterranean dish.

Mediterranean Quinoa
serves 1- just double or quadruple for more people!

1/3 c. quinoa
1 small zucchini sliced into circles
1 handful or small vine of cherry or grape tomatoes
1 small red onion (or half of a medium one) thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper (freshly ground really gives so much flavor!)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
taggiasche olives (or kalamata or other dark olives, but these are great!)
shaved grana padano cheese (or some good parmesan it’s very similar)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. On one half of a baking sheet lined with foil, mix the cherry tomatoes with the garlic, onions and salt and pepper. Drizzle with half of the tbsp of olive oil.

2. On the other half of the baking sheet, lay out the zucchini circles and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with the other half tbsp of olive oil and flip to coat them well, making sure to not leave the bottom touching the foil without oil, otherwise they will stick!

3. Place the veggies in the oven and set the timer for 20 minutes.

4. Prepare the quinoa by pouring 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water (for a single serving, 2/3 cup water) into a small saucepan and bringing to a boil. Lower the heat and let simmer with the lid on for 10-15 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Turn the heat off and let it steam for 5 minutes.

5. Check the veggies at the 20 minute mark, the tomatoes should be splitting and the onions nicely caramelized and the zucchini slices golden. Remove from the oven, remembering to turn your oven off.

6. Once cooled, layer the vegetables on top of the quinoa on your plate or tupperware in my case, top with the olives and grana shavings.

Buon appetito!

I’m Back…

Dear followers (or people who read secretly and never comment..*cough* LIZ *cough*)

It has come to my attention that my absence has been noted in the “blogosphere”. I brushed this aside and merely explained that I was no longer into blogging, however after the 4th or 5th mention (I know…so many fans) I decided that for each person who actually commented or told me they read, there are probably at least 2 or 3 others who don’t say anything. Writing about my life here in Italy for 10 people who may be interested or even find this of use is enough for me. So here are some brief updates before hopefully getting back into the swing of things (I’m hoping for weekly posts or so..but no promises).

Livio and I just returned from our honeymoon in Peter Island (in the British Virgin Islands… you can see it’s location here.) Suffice it to say, it was all a honeymoon should be. Pure relaxation and privacy.

Little place where we went snorkeling on our private sail

Our little friend who came begging for crumbs every morning while we had breakfast on the terrace

The beautiful pool at the spa…this was in the middle of the day, as you can see, we literally felt like we were the only ones there sometimes. That is Livio walking next to the pool

Livio in the palm trees

The tiny little plane that we took over to Beef Island Airport (the closest airport to Peter Island in the BVIs). It was an 8-seater prop jet!

It is a great resort for a honeymoon because it is the only resort on the island and so it seems like you have the whole island to yourself, not to mention the great food and drink, beaches and spa. *Sigh* I wish we could honeymoon once a year…

After our week in paradise, we returned to the US for the week.  The main purpose of this was for the beautiful and *super* fun wedding of my brother Gordon and Annie (hi sis-in-law!). It was an awesome way to finish off our trip back to the US and I could not be happier for the couple.

first dance. Photo credit:

They had an amazing beach-themed wedding and my sister Lars and I were bridesmaids.

Here we are…boogieing with our dad

I know I need to finish up my wedding series here on the ol’ blog. Are people interested in hearing about my wedding planning still or shall I just move on with life? Anyone who reads this, let me know, any feedback or advice would be appreciated.

We are now back in Italy and after the usual week of adjusting and jet lag we are back to normal here. Normal meaning our weekly pizza dinner.

This pizzeria is one of our favorites in our area. It is called pizzeria la pace and I highly recommend it if you are ever in the Veneto region. They specialize in these huge pizzas al panaro, which are basically maxi-pizzas with several different topping sections (on the bigger ones up to 8). Those in the photo above, by the way, are considered just “individual pizzas”. Here is their site.

Well that is all for now. Please any feedback would be appreciated (even if just to say hi and that you read the blog!). A presto!

Wedding Location and Venue

When Livio and I decided to get married we had very specific time frames due to bureaucratic procedures and time limits in different countries. We got engaged at the end of March and we wanted to get married in September. This gave us 6 months to plan our wedding and so I knew we were already late for booking a venue. I immediately went to google and put in “Weddings Veneto Italy”. We live in the Veneto region and since it was already going to be a destination wedding for half of the invitees, I didn’t want to make it further also for Livio’s family and our friends, all of whom live in the Veneto region. Obviously two hugely popular locations are Verona and Venice, the two most touristy and famous cities in this region. I did NOT want to have a total cliche italian wedding nor did I want to be battling the tourists on the day of our wedding and so those two were immediately eliminated.

Livio and I went to Tuscany in the spring of 2010 and we loved it. I wanted the vibe of my wedding to be elegant and classic and really give a beautiful view of Italy and our region to the American guests and so I immediately thought of Asolo. Asolo is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful and classic looking cities in this region and it really recalls Tuscany in my mind. It is in located in the foothills of the Italian Pre-Alps and on a clear day you see little mountains covered in vineyards for miles!

View from the Hotel Cipriani Garden

I decided that this was the place and now we just had to secure the ceremony and reception venues. We decided to get married in the town-hall because we needed a civil ceremony to cover the legal aspects of our marriage and I am not catholic and it is a complicated and long process to have a catholic wedding so we nixed that idea. We heard from the town hall and they were available for the 24th of September as well as the 10th of September. We just needed to find a reception site for after the wedding to officially decide on the date.

Inside the town hall during the ceremony

We decided that of our reception site there were two very important things: 1) that it was beautiful and 2) that the food was delicious. We tried out several villas that were lovely and I thought that the idea of a villa was amazing but either you would rent out the villa and then have to pay for a catering service, or you the villa catered itself. However when we sampled a meal at the villa that also had catering, the price was decent but the food was horrible. If you had to rent both the villa and the catering service, the price was too extravagant. We then looked at booking it at a restaurant but we had no good leads. I then looked online for good reception locations and right in Asolo I read about the Hotel Villa Cipriani. It was a 4 star hotel with great ratings and well-known in this area for its cuisine.

The most appealing thing was also that it was only a quarter mile from the town-hall where we’d get married so the guests could literally walk from the ceremony to the reception. We went and ate in the hotel’s restaurant to see how good the food actually was and it was AMAZING. The hotel had an amazing garden outside where we could have the appetizer buffet and drinks and a classy and elegant inside dining room. It was the perfect setting with a perfect view. You basically booked the dinner in the restaurant and the location was included AND the hotel for the guests was already in place. Perfect all around! (Right dad? eheh)

The Wedding!

So now that I’ve finally gotten around to writing on this blog again I wanted to write allllll about my wedding. I have decided to break it up into several different posts for these topics:

1) Venue/Location
2) Photographer
3) Dress/Bridesmaids Dress/Shoes
4) Hair/Make-up
5) Music
6) Cake
7) Details

If you can think of any other topics or questions you might have then just reply to this post! I am glad to share all (or most).