Spicy Thymes – Warm Grains

Fall is my favorite time of year, in no small part because of the food. From cider donuts to pumpkin bars, apple sausage to sweet potato pie, roasted squash to homemade applesauce, I’m obsessed. I’ve even fallen into the “pumpkin pie spice trap” on more than one occasion.

The thing I love most about fall foods, the one thing they almost all have in common, is they are served hot. A warm cup of coffee on cool morning is one of the best things in the world. I love making soups, roasted vegetables, and fresh breads and jam. Having the oven on and feeling comfortable in my house without cranking the AC, you just can’t beat it.

One type of dish I’ve really begun to enjoy over the past few years is recipes centered on warm grains. I can honestly say I was in my 20’s before I ever even tried quinoa, and it’s taken me a while to figure out exactly how to prepare and season it to my taste. This weekend I tried something new, and it paid off.

I knew two things when I left work Saturday: I really didn’t want to stop at the grocery store, and I had quinoa at home, I could figure something out. I put the quinoa on to cook, along with some frozen corn and carrots, and began to look for a dressing.

I wanted something a little sweeter, so I started with our Blood Orange Olive Oil. This oil starts out sweet and finishes with a slight tang and classic olive oil pepper finish, and I use it at least 3 times a week. I had some Vermont Maple Balsamic left over from a broccoli dish, in which I also used the Blood Orange, so I knew that was a good combo. The Vermont Maple is our sweetest balsamic, and it does contain actual maple syrup (this means added sugar).

Here’s where I went a little to the left. Our Pumpkin Pie White Balsamic is new to me and I’ve been trying to find ways to use it. This vinegar blends nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and clove with the classic bite of white balsamic. I figured, what’s the worst that can happen? I decided on a final dressing of 1 part Blood Orange Balsamic, 2 parts Vermont Maple Balsamic, and 2 parts Pumpkin Pie White Balsamic.

I mixed the cooked quinoa, carrots, and corn and topped them with some golden raisins and the dressing. As far as dishes that I’ve made up on the fly go, this one ranks in the top five. The sweetness in the Vermont Maple takes the bite of the Pumpkin Pie, allowing the rich spices to shine. The Blood Orange provides a nice citrus tang without being overpowering. The whole dish was sweet without being sugary. It was filling, and packed with flavor. From start to finish, the dish only took about 20 minutes, making it the prefect weekend lunch.

Next Time…
This was a great quick lunch or side dish, but to make it into a dinner it needs a protein. I think lentils or edamame would add nicely to the flavors already in place. You could also add walnuts or sliced almonds if you wanted more texture. If not eating vegan, roasted chicken or apple sausage would also pair nicely.

I’m also considering adding kale or arugula and making it more of a salad. I think you could easily chill this dish and serve it cold if warm grains aren’t your thing.

More On…
Pumpkin Pie Spice White Balsamic – Here at AllSpice, we are far from immune to the charms of pumpkin pie spice. This balsamic combines the best flavors of fall with a bright, crisp finish. Like I said, this is a new balsamic to me, but these customer and co-worker suggestions sound amazing!

  • Brush over pumpkin bars for an added boost in flavor
  • Drizzle over roasted vegetables for a fall flair
  • Pair with an EVOO for any fall salad
  • Use a dipping vinegar for pumpkin or apple bread
  • Drizzle over homemade ice cream and fresh pumpkin pie
  • Blend into whipped cream
  • Reduce and use as a syrup on berries and oatmeal

The Pumpkin Pie Balsamic is a beloved seasonal ingredient, and is available in-store, only while supplies last.