“You should ride with Liz. It’s like another world.”

That was the general consensus my senior year of college, when our Sunday school class decided to spend spring break in Washington, DC. We left Columbia, MO, on an early Saturday morning and caravanned our way across the country. My friend, Liz, was one of the drivers.

Liz was a personality. A *big* personality. A huge fan of Billy Joel, she blared his cassette tapes from her beat-up Pinto’s tape deck, screeching the lyrics as we rolled through Terre Haute, Columbus and Wheeling.

“I DON’T KNOW WHY I GO TO EXTREMES!”

Yes, it was another world. And I loved it.

Liz taught me to let go. To shout the lyrics of my favorite songs. To dance in my car seat, smirkers be damned. To grab onto opportunities and embrace life. (Although we all looked a little askance when she stole a roll of toilet paper from Sam Donaldson’s bathroom. Our DC host was Donaldson’s brother-in-law, and we spent an evening at the former newscaster’s house.)

I thought of Liz last night. Dinner was a very demure baked fish and some slightly more adventurous bok choy. It all seemed a little safe.

“What would Liz do?” I wondered.

Well, she’d want to mix things up. Add some spice. Make a spectacle.

That’s how this dish came about:

black rice & quinoa

Black rice and red quinoa, dappled with chives and mint, then spiked with a honey, ginger & vinegar dressing. Its mahogany color offset the demure fish perfectly and made an unexpected bed for the bok choy.

“What do you call this dish?” my husband asked.

Easy. It’s my ode to Liz.

Ode To Liz Rice & Quinoa

  • 1/2 cup black rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup red quinoa, steamed
  • 1 tablespoon minced herbs (I used mint and chives)
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil

Combine the black rice and water in a large saute pan. Season with salt and pepper, then cover the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook until the rice has absorbed all of the water. This will take about 40 minutes.

When the rice is cooked, stir in the steamed quinoa and the herbs.

In a bowl, whisk together the ginger, honey, vinegar and walnut oil. Season with salt and pepper, then taste. You may want to add more honey (for a sweeter dressing) or more vinegar (for kick).

Stir the dressing into the rice and quinoa and serve immediately. Liz never liked to wait.

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