The First of May & Quinoa Salad

poppyHooray, hooray! Sunday is the first of May. In ancient times, May Day heralded the start of summer. (You always wondered why the longest day in June is called midsummer. Now you know.) Throughout the decades, May 1st has witnessed many famous and infamous events.

Villages in medieval Europe welcomed longer, warmer days with a maypole, dancing and frivolity. Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro premiered in Vienna on May 1, 1786. For the less highbrow, the Follies Bergère opened its doors on the same day in1869.

It’s not been all fun but there have been games. The union movement traces its roots to May Day. Thirty-five thousand unionists walked off their jobs in Chicago in support of an eight-hour work day in 1886. May 1, 1920 was a dark day for Boston; Babe Ruth hit his first homer for the Yankees. It was also a bad day for villains. Batman began fighting evil in 1939 when his first comic book hit the streets.

There’s more! Those yellow boxes of Cheerios were first placed on supermarket shelves and Citizen Kane premiered on May 1, 1941. Rookie Mickey Mantle hit his first major league homerun in 1951. In 1961, Harper Lee received the Pulitzer Prize for the iconic To Kill a Mockingbird. Ten years later, the Rolling Stones released “Brown Sugar”.

Although it happened on April 25, the Russian news agency Tass finally reported the Chernobyl disaster on May 1, 1986. The UK elected Tony Blair Prime Minister on May Day 1997. SpongeBob SquarePants joined the television lineup in 1999. Long a day for protests, pro-immigration rallies were held on May 1st in both 2006 and 2007. Demonstrators were back at it in 2012 when Occupy Wall Street organized general strikes in cities across the United States

That’s just a glimpse of some of the notable comings, goings and happenings through the ages. Warmer weather certainly brings its share of joy and trouble. How about you? What kind of activities do you plan for the first of May? Fun and festive, inspired or inspiring? Taking a few cues from history, here are some ideas:

With or without a maypole, organize a neighborhood fête. Invite everyone over for a potluck cookout. Enjoy an afternoon in the sunshine with good food, games and camaraderie.

See an opera, take in a show or go to a concert. Perhaps you’d rather make your own music or dance the night away.

Spend an afternoon at the ballpark. You can watch the Red Sox beat the Yankees at Fenway or the Fisher Cats play the Binghamton Mets in Manchester. Alternatively, you can add a friendly game to your neighborhood cookout.

Be a superhero. Whether you take a lesson from the dark and brooding Batman or use a lighter approach, your family, friends and neighbors will appreciate some ordinary heroics. Walk a friend’s dog when she’s forced to stay late at the office. Give your brother a night off by offering to babysit his kids. Help your neighbor lug her heavy groceries from the car into the house.

Let your voice be heard. Do you have a cause that is near and dear to you? Join a peaceful demonstration, organize a petition or write your representative and senators.

Have a great day and better month of May. Bon appétit!

Quinoa Salad
Quinoa has a lovely nutty taste and is a favorite with kids. It’s the perfect salad for your May Day cookout. Enjoy!Quinoa_Salad_01
Serves 6-8

1 1/2 cups quinoa
Grated zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
2-3 scallions, thinly slice the white and pale green parts and chop the dark green tops
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
Orange Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tart apple, diced
2 tablespoons currants
Juice of 1/2 orange
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Cook the quinoa according to package directions and transfer to a large bowl. Add the orange zest, white and pale green scallion, garlic and enough Orange Vinaigrette to lightly coat. Season with salt and pepper, toss to combine and cool to room temperature.

While the quinoa is cooling, prepare the apple. Drizzle the apple and currants with orange juice and toss to coat.

When the quinoa has cooled to room temperature, add the fruit and toss to combine. Sprinkle the salad with chopped scallion and herbs and toasted almonds, toss again and serve.

The salad can be prepared up to several hours in advance and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Orange Vinaigrette
Juice of 1/2 orange
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil to taste

Put the orange juice, vinegar, honey and mustard in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Slowly add olive oil to taste, whisking until combined and emulsified.

Cover and store leftover vinaigrette in the refrigerator. It’s delicious with mixed greens.

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One Year Ago – Latkes
Two Years Ago – Cheddar-Sage Biscuits
Three Years Ago – Peanut-y Chocolate Chip Cookies
Four Years Ago – Espresso Brownies
Five Years Ago – Lemon Scones
Six Years Ago – Shrimp with Jicama Slaw
Seven Years Ago – Pork Mole
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Do you have special plans for the 1st of May? Feel free to share.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

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