Recipe or riff? Cold quinoa salad

Lately I just focus on a single ingredient, and let the rest of a dish come together any which way. For example, quinoa salad. I cooked up a bunch of quinoa in some water leftover from steaming beets and sweet potatoes. It came out kind of pinkish! Then I doused it with lemon juice and olive oil while still warm, and let it cool for a day--just cuz. Later, I added chopped up bits of random refrigerated items:
  • pieces of roasted red pepper in jar
  • leftover bell pepper
  • kalamata olives, chopped
  • chopped up celery sticks, at least 2 weeks old (kept them in water)
  • tablespoon of artichoke hearts, leftover
I also threw in random herbs from garden, harvested with headlamp at 9pm and chopped fine:
  • chives
  • winter savory
  • rosemary
  • thyme
Salt & pepper were added, of course.

Right before serving, I threw on a handful on raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds), as I'd been reading about their health benefits. Delicious!

But is that a recipe? It seems pretty off the cuff, pretty random. It's a riff. If I had different things in the fridge--cucumbers or parsley or capers for example--I would have made a different salad. I like that. Being able to riff takes the pressure off. I don't need to be super-prepared or make big lists. I'm trying to do this with as much of my food-prep as possible! (I guess I always have, but this one was a revelation because I got rid of five containers that had been cluttering up the fridge with little bits of leftover stuff. FIVE!)

By the way, here are some other cold salads we've enjoyed lately:

Farmer's market green salad, with added kalamata olives & crumbled feta. I did not make this one because I dislike washing lettuce.

Steamed beets with sliced caper berries, lots of feta and cucumber slices

What riffs have you been working lately? What about cold salads? Do you put feta on everything too?

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