Wheatless Wednesday – Cauliflower Quinoa Chowder Topped with Caramelized Shallots

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It’s starting to look like Soup Season – and this one is magic!  I just arrived at my house in Maine, where summer and fall are definitely having a collision. Summer is not over yet; the days are still sunny and beautiful, but once the sun goes down the temperature drops and sweaters come out. School is back in session, so that means that grownups have to actually go back to work too.  It is this time of year when I still eat salads for lunch but start to crave warm homey food for dinner.  Last night I made this savory vegan Cauliflower Quinoa Chowder topped with caramelized shallots (not bacon), parsley and sliced green onion.  Mmmm… a definite Winner!  This is an easy One Pot Meal that serves about 6 adults with generous portions. This will be one I make again and again.

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This soup has two magic ingredients:  cauliflower and quinoa.  Cauliflower is the chameleon of vegetables.  It can take the place of flour (Pizza Crust), pasta (Mac and Cheese), grain (Tabouleh) or potatoes (Cauliflower Puree).  Adding Cauliflower to foods is a sneaky smart way to get some nutrients in your diet.  Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6. It is a good source of dietary fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids and a whole host of vitamins and minerals.  I only used one potato in this dish and the cauliflower stepped in for the rest.  If you are trying to avoid carbs (even though potatoes are good ones), you can elinimate the potato altogether and add a bit more cauliflower.

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Quinoa is another master of illusion and can be the star of a main course casserole or added to veggies in a salad.  In this dish it is mixed in towards the end as a thickener and, as one of the Worlds ‘nearly perfect foods’ (as described on the package) it also provides a huge protein boost.  I used Pearl Quinoa which I have never used before, partially because I thought it would add good texture to soup (it did) but also to support the company, Alter Eco, a Fair Trade company who gets its organic quinoa from Quechua and Aymara farmers in who grow the grain 13,000 feet up on the arid and desolate Soar De Uyuni salt flat of Bolivia.  I want to support that kind of effort!  That said, any kind of quinoa will work, so use what you have.

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I adapted this recipe from  Foodie Crush but made a few changes to make it vegan (trying to use less milk and dairy) and based on what vegetables I had on hand.  She has a great recipe though, so you can click on the link to see the original.  I love the color and sweetness that the carrots added.  The original recipe called for red bell pepper which I didn’t have, so I added more carrots and a stalk of celery.  Follow your own tastes (or pantry).  I also used Original flavor coconut millk instead of regular milk and LOVED the added flavor.  This chowder gets it’s thick and creamy texture from the quinoa but also from pureeing one third to a half of the vegetable mixture before adding the quinoa.  If you like it chunky, puree less, if you like a smoother soup, puree more.  Its that easy!

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I love toppings and these really turn chowder into something special.  The caramelized shallots are worth the 15 minutes it takes, trust me.  I recommend making the shallots ahead or while the cauliflower and potatoes are cooking.  This is my Go To substitute for bacon and it works!  Be creative – or be a purist and go bare!

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I eased myself into Maine yesterday with a windy and challenging kayak across the lake where the headwinds tossed water into out kayaks at each wave.  Luckily we had the wind at our backs on the way back and breezed home but I definitely earned my dinner.  I was not disappointed.  I hiked Pleasant Mountain this morning instead of writing this blog (Sorry not sorry).  In the photo above you can see the White Mountains in the distance.  Now I’m looking for leftovers…

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CAULIFLOWER AND QUINOA CHOWDER

1/4 cup olive or coconut oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
1 small head cauliflower, roughly chopped (about 3 cups)
1 quart vegetable broth
2 cups coconut milk (or any other kind of milk)
2 bay leaves
2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup pearled quinoa (or regular quinoa)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

TOPPINGS: (optional)

Carmelized shallots*Recipe below
Chopped parsley
Sliced scallions

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  • In large stock pot, garlic and onions in oil over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, or until onions are opaque. Add celery and carrots and cook for about 10 minutes.

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  • Add potato, cauliflower, vegetable broth, coconut milk, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 10-12 minutes or until cauliflower and potato are softened.

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  • Remove bay leaf. Ladle about 1/3 to 1/2 of the soup into a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add back to pot. Add salt and pepper.  Taste and add seasoning if desired.

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  • Rinse 1/2 cup quinoa in cold water and add to cauliflower mixture. Reduce to simmer and cook until quinoa is softened, about 15 minutes. If soup gets too thick add water and lower temperature.

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  • Add more liquid if needed.  Serve with desired toppings.  I highly recommend carmelized shallots, parsley and sliced scallions.

CARMELIZED SHALLOTS (makes about 1/4 cup)

6-8 shallots
1 Tbsn olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

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  • Peel and thinly slice shallots into rounds.

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  • Saute in oil for 15  minutes or so until golden brown.

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  • Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.

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  • Place in a small serving dish along with other toppings.

Cauliflower Quinoa Chowder

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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1/4 cup olive or coconut oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, diced1 teaspoon salt
1 stalk celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
1 small head cauliflower, roughly chopped (about 3 cup)
1 quart vegetable broth
2 cups coconut milk (or any other kind of milk)
2 bay leaves
2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup pearled quinoa (or regular quinoa)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

  • In large stock pot, garlic and onions in oil over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, or until onions are opaque.
  • Add celery and carrots and cook for about 10 minutes.
  • Add potato, cauliflower, vegetable broth, coconut milk, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 10-12 minutes or until cauliflower and potato are softened.
  • Remove bay leaf. Ladle about 1/3 to 1/2 of the soup into a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
  • Add back to pot. Add salt and pepper.  Taste and add seasoning if desired.
  • Rinse 1/2 cup quinoa in cold water and add to cauliflower mixture. Reduce to simmer and cook until quinoa is softened, about 15 minutes.
  • Add more liquid if needed.  Serve with desired toppings.  I highly recommend carmelized shallots, parsley and sliced scallions.

CARMELIZED SHALLOTS (makes about 1/4 cup)

6-8 shallots
1 Tbsn olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

  • Peel and thinly slice shallots into rounds.
  • Saute in oil for 15  minutes or so until golden brown.
  • Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
  • Place in a small serving dish.

Meatless Monday – Black Bean Chili Con Quinoa

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Can we talk about the Superbowl?  Or rather I would just like to watch Katy Perry’s Halftime Show again!  She and her guests, Missy Elliot and Lenny Kravitz, were fantastic, so fun to watch, even the dancing chessmen and sharks! For those of you who missed the show here is a chance to watch it again – Katy Perry Superbowl Halftime Show.  If you thought the Superbowl was about football, guess again.  For many of us it’s really about the commercials, halftime show and FOOD! So what did I serve for this great American event?  I went with a tried and true crowd favorite, Chili with all the fixin’s.  Yum!

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Chili without meat is kind of like thick soup, or so I thought…until I tried using red quinoa instead of ground beef.  I know it sounds crazy but the quinoa adds a similar texture to chili con carne, unintentionally fooling some of my Superbowl guests. I wasn’t actually trying to pull a fast one on anyone. I thought everyone knew by now that I no longer cook with meat.  When I asked my husband how he liked the meatless chili, he said “There is no meat in there?”  I declared it a personal victory.  There are quinoa chili recipes all over the internet and I was tempted to try one, but in the end I decided to use the chili recipe in my head that I have been using for years and just substitute cooked red quinoa for the more traditional ground beef. Red quinoa makes a good meat substitute, in that it provides a good texture and adds lots of great usable protein (similar to beef), vitamins and minerals so it’s not just adding bulk. In addition, the dark reddish brown color blends in better with the chili beans.  I sauteed the cooked quinoa along with the onions and garlic before adding the crushed tomatoes, broth and spices, and then finally the beans. Sauteing the quinoa infuses it with some of the savory flavors of garlic and onion and the olive oil gives it a ‘fattier’ feel.  I was surprised at how well this technique worked!

I like to make a ‘Chili Bar’ and stack big and small bowls next to the pot of chili and a row of pre-chopped toppings laid out for easy serving.

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TIP:  I enjoy soup or chili with lots of saucy juice, but this chili also makes a good taco filling.  Just add less of the crushed tomato and let the water or broth evaporate until it’s the right consistency.   I used canned beans but, of course, you can use dried beans and let them soak overnight.  Then you will need to add them along with the tomatoes and broth and be prepared to cook them for at least an hour.

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BLACK BEAN CHILI CON QUINOA

1 cup red quinoa
2 Tbsn olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1-2 cups vegetable broth or water
1 (28 oz) crushed tomatoes with juice
4 Tbsn chili powder
1 Tbsn cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
Salt and  pepper, to taste
3 (16 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed

SUGGESTED TOPPINGS:  shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa, cilantro, olives, jalapenos and shredded lettuce with corn tortillas.

  •  Rinse and cook quinoa according to directions and set aside.

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  • Saute onions in olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat until transluscent, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and quinoa and saute a few more minutes.

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  • Stir in broth, crushed tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover saucepan and simmer about 20 minutes

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  • Add black beans and simmer, uncovered 5 – 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more broth or water if necessary.

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  • Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa, cilantro, olives, jalapenos and shredded lettuce with corn tortillas. (suggested toppings optional)

Black Bean Chili Con Quinoa

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 cup red quino
2 Tbsn olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1-2 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes with juice
4 Tbsn chili powder
1 Tbsn cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
SUGGESTED TOPPINGS:  shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa, cilantro, olives, jalapenos and shredded lettuce with corn tortillas.

TIP:  This chili also makes a good taco filling.  Add less crushed tomato and let the water or broth evaporate until it’s the right consistency.

  • Cook quinoa according to directions and set aside.
  • Saute onions in olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat until transluscent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add in garlic and quinoa and saute a few more minutes.
  • Stir in broth, crushed tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover saucepan and simmer about 20 minutes
  • Add black beans and simmer, uncovered 5 – 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more broth or water if necessary.
  • Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa, cilantro, olives, jalapenos and shredded lettuce with corn tortillas. (suggested toppings optional)

Wheatless Wednesday – Quinoa ‘Mac’ and Cheese

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Let’s face it – it’s all about the cheese, yummy, oozy, bubbling, crispy deliciousness, creating the ultimate in comfort foods. Much of the country, the east coast in particular, is trapped inside due to piles and piles of snow and in great need of something warm and cozy. The rest of us just like comfort food.  How about everyone’s favorite Mac and Cheese but with a twist? Macaroni and Cheese was a childhood favorite of mine.  My mom used to make is from scratch (none of that boxed stuff) and bake it in the oven until the top was brown and crispy.  What a treat!  It wasn’t until I was in college and looking for cheap food to make in my dorm room that I discovered Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (along with that other ubiquitous college staple, Ramen Noodles).  That tasted pretty good to a starving college student too but I’m not sure how much actual food is in there. It would be a game changer to find a Mac and Cheese that we love that loves us back.  I know quinoa isn’t a traditional ingredient in Mac and Cheese but it’s so much healthier than macaroni which is a delicious foil for the cheese but  really is just empty carbs, providing very little nutrition, mostly calories.  But maybe we can have it all.  I spotted this recipe for Quinoa ‘Mac’ and Cheese from Just a Pinch Recipes and decided to give it a whirl, since I appear to be on a quinoa kick (there are worse things I suppose).  My recipe below is an adaptation of the original.

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This recipe calls for white quinoa, which is fluffier than the colored versions.  I will not make you read about the virtues of quinoa again, since I did that on Monday when I posted my recipe for Quinoa Salad with Artichokes, Olives and Chickpeas which was quite tasty, however if you want to read about why you should be eating more quinoa click HERE.  I used sharp cheddar, whole milk from, Strauss Family Farms, and pasture raised eggs, both local growers, whom I am becoming quite passionate about supporting.  Please, please, please think again before buying factory farmed milk and eggs.  Our animals deserve better.  Every time you buy organic products of any kind that have been raised or grown out in a field or pasture you are encouraging more farmers to do the same.  This recipe can be made vegan by substituting vegan cheddar cheese, almond milk and a thickener like flour.  For another wheatless ‘Mac’ and Cheese recipe, check out my Cauliflower “Mac’ and Cheese post, yum!

TIPS:  If you like it extra creamy, use  a bit more milk, or cream ,and cheese as quinoa absorbs more liquid than pasta does.  It will look runny when you put it in the oven but will firm as it cooks.   Next time I will be tempted to use a variety of cheese.  This would be a great use for those odds and ends of cheeses left in your refrigerator.  Just grate them all together and toss with the other ingredients.  For a larger portion double the recipe and use a 13×9 pan.

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QUINOA ‘MAC’ AND CHEESE

3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese (plus more if desired for topping)
3/4 cup milk (or cream)
1 large egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

  • Rinse and cook quinoa according to instructions. Cover and set aside.

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  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat 8×8 inch dish with butter or cooking spray.

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  • Whisk together eggs and milk in large bowl. Add garlic, salt, red pepper flakes.

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  • Fold together quinoa, egg mixture and cheese until cheese is evenly distributed.

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  • Pour into prepared baking dish and bake 30-35 mins, until top is browned.

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  • You can top with more cheese to make a cheesy crust  10 minutes after cooking, if desired. To test for doneness, press a finger into top.  If liquid appears, cook a bit longer, or until the casserole is firm.20150127_124304

 

Quinoa 'Mac' and Cheese

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese (plus more if desired for topping)
3/4 cup milk (or cream)
1 large egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

  • Rinse and cook quinoa according to instructions. Cover and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Coat 8×8 inch dish with butter or cooking spray.
  • Whisk together eggs and milk in large bowl. Add garlic, salt, red pepper flakes.
  • Fold together quinoa, egg mixture and cheese until cheese is evenly distributed.
  • Pour into prepared baking dish and bake 30-35 mins, until top is browned.
  • You can top with more cheese to make a cheesy crust  10 minutes after cooking, if desired. To test for doneness, press a finger into top.  If liquid appears, cook a bit longer, or until the casserole is firm.

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Meatless Monday – Quinoa Salad with Artichokes, Olives and Chickpeas

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Quinoa is still the queen of the ancient grain world, just don’t tell freekah or farro.  Other grains try but they can’t steal the crown, perhaps because quinoa is so versatile and packed with nutrients. It is also the perfect backdrop for putting colorful veggies on display.  This yummy salad with quinoa, artichokes, olives, cherry tomatoes and chickpeas with fresh herbs tossed in a light lemony dressing is deceptively hearty and filled with protein. I love this combination of flavors.  The salty kalamata olives combined with the earthy chickpeas, lemony artichoke hearts and sweet tomatoes are lovely together, making a pretty and delicious meal. It got rave reviews last night from my husband, but then again, with these ingredients it’s pretty hard not to like.   If you are looking for an easy-to-assemble-in-less-than-half-an-hour-dish, this is it!  Since it is served slightly warm or at room temperature, this salad makes the perfect buffet or potluck dish.  Make it  ahead and let it sit until you’re ready-no last minute reheating required. In fact it only gets better the longer it sits and marinates, allowing the flavors to develop. This would also be a great use for leftover quinoa.  Just toss together with the veggies and herbs. Done!

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Why should you eat more quinoa?  Quinoa is known for being  great source of protein,  but it’s not only the amount, it’s the type of protein. Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a ‘complete protein’, which is rarely found in plant foods, though common in meats. Amino acids are considered ‘essential’ if our bodies can’t produce them and we can only get them through our diets. My husband asked me how our livestock animals get enough protein when they only eat grass or grains.  I did not know the answer so I did what everyone does today, I googled it. Herbivores, animals that get all of their nutrition from grass and other plants, have no problem getting enough protein in their diet. Unlike humans, herbivores are capable of digesting plant cells and getting to the nutrients locked inside, like protein. So there you have it.  Cows and other ruminants who spend their day chewing their cud have superior digestive systems. But I digress, back to the star of today.  Quinoa also offers a good dose of fiber, iron and a whole host of other vitamins and minerals. It is low in calories, gluten-free and cruelty-free making it a great dietary choice for everyone.

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TIPS:  This is a vegan salad, however, crumbling feta on top would be a delicious addition for cheese lovers.  I did not have any or I may have been tempted to add a sprinkle or two.  Don’t forget to rinse the quinoa before cooking to remove the bitter saponin, a naturally occurring substance that coats quinoa to protect it from predators. Just use a colander with a fine mesh or you will lose some of your quinoa down the drain.  Some quinoa is pre-rinsed so check the label. Very important! Zest your lemon before cutting it in half.  Once they are cut, they are almost impossible to zest. I’ve tried…

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QUINOA SALAD WITH ARTICHOKES, OLIVES AND CHICKPEAS

1 cup quinoa (plain or tri-color)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 16 oz can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
1 16 oz can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped or julienned (plus more for garnish)

Dressing (Note:  This is a lightly dressed salad.  If you like a lot of dressing, double the recipe):

1/4 cup olive oil
zest from one lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh oregano, minced (or 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning)
Salt and pepper, to taste

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  • Rinse quinoa and cook according to package instructions. Then transfer cooked quinoa to a large serving bowl and fluff with a fork to remove any lumps.

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  • Add the tomatoes, artichoke hearts, chickpeas ,olives, and basil.

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  • In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and oregano. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the couscous mixture and stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Garnish with more basil, if desired. Serve room temperature.

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Quinoa Salad with Artichokes, Olives and Chickpeas

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 cup quinoa (plain or tri-color)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 16 oz can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
1 16 oz can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped or julienned (plus more for garnish)

Dressing (Note:  This is a lightly dressed salad.  If you like a lot of dressing, double the recipe):

1/4 cup olive oil
zest from one lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh oregano, minced (or 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning)
Salt and pepper, to taste

  • Make quinoa according to package instructions. Then transfer cooked quinoa to a large serving bowl and stir to remove any lumps.
  • Add the tomatoes, artichoke hearts, chickpeas ,olives, and basil.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and oregano. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour the dressing over the couscous mixture and stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Garnish with more basil, if desired.
  • Serve room temperature.

 

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Winter Green Salad with Crispy Quinoa

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New year equals new ideas.  The holidays might be over but that doesn’t mean the presents have to stop!  I finally decided to order a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box loaded with produce fresh from a local farm delivered right to my door – And my first one came today!  Even though I was the one to order it, I still felt ridiculously excited to see two boxes with their mystery contents at my doorstep this morning when I got up. It felt like Christmas and Hanukkah all over again.  Some of us will go to great lengths to extend the holiday season…  For those that don’t know, CSA is an alternative ‘farm to table’ method for distribution of produce. Consumers sign up with a local company who arranges personalized home delivery of organically and locally grown fruits and vegetables.  I signed with Farm Fresh to You, who supplies produce from Capay Organic Farm located about 90 miles Northeast of San Francisco.  I chose the Traditional CSA Box but they offer many types and sizes of boxes, like Fruit or Vegetable Only, even a ‘No Cooking Box’.  I decided to try this for a few reasons.  First, I love fresh produce and in the winter, my garden is a bit sparse (because I’m a fair weather gardener).  I also like supporting local farmers and eating with the season. Lastly, instead of going to the market and hand selecting items for dinner, I thought to stretch my creativity by having to figure out what delicious meals to make with the contents of my mystery boxes.

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What was in my box?  Butternut squash, beets, rainbow carrots, Treviso radicchio, kiwis, baby bok choy, watermelon radish, fennel, red d’anjou pears, pink lady apples and assorted lettuce. Whew! After mulling the many possible ways dinner could go, I opted to use the most perishable items first, like lettuce.  So salad it is… Winter Greens with thinly sliced pears, watermelon radish and avocado, coated with yummy crispy quinoa and crumbly feta with a few pistachios thrown into the mix. I added quinoa, not only to give my salad a nutrient boost with it’s high protein content and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and iron, but also to enhance the taste and feel of the salad.  When tossed with a simple vinaigrette, the crispy quinoa bits collect on the veggies making each bite a tasty treasure.

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I first had crispy quinoa in a salad at Tamalpie Pizza in Mill Valley, CA.  I was instantly enamored and only slightly dismayed to hear that the quinoa was deep fried.  It was such a great concept, that quinoa can be transformed almost into something else.  I don’t remember what else was in that salad except for leafy greens (and it is not currently listed on their menu, darn) so I made up my own salad with some help from my CSA box.

TIPS: Always rinse quinoa before cooking (unless the packaging says that it has been pre-rinsed) to remove any remaining saponins, a naturally occurring but bitter substance that the plant produces to protect itself from predators (smart, huh?)  Use a fine mesh colander so you don’t lose any of the tiny grains.

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WINTER GREEN SALAD WITH CRISPY QUINOA

1/2 cup dry quinoa (any kind) or 3/4 cup cooked
1 Tbsn high heat oil like coconut or avocado (not olive oil)
1 head or 4 cups assorted lettuces
5-6 radicchio leaves
1-2 watermelon radish
1 d’anjou pear
1/4 cup pistachios (or roasted hazelnuts)
1/4 cup crumbled feta (optional)

Vinaigrette: (1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 clove minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste. You can also add 1/2 tsp of either cumin or Italian seasoning or any fresh herbs)

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  • Rinse quinoa and simmer in salted water for about 15 minutes or until tender.  All water should be absorbed.  Let cool.

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  • Heat 1 Tbsn oil in a skillet until almost smoking and add in the cooked quinoa. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the quinoa pops and sizzles and turns crispy, about 5 minutes. Let cool.

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  • Cut or tear the larger lettuce leaves into pieces. Slice the radicchio

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  • Thinly slice the radish, pear and avocado.

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  • Sprinkle the cooled quinoa on top of the salad greens

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  • Top with the sliced pear, radish, avocado, pistachios and feta.

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  • Dress sparingly with the vinaigrette and toss gently. Serve with more vinaigrette and feta on the side

 

Winter Green Salad with Crispy Quinoa

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1/2 cup dry quinoa (any kind) or 3/4 cup cooked
1-2 Tbsn high heat oil like coconut or avocado (not olive oil)
1 head or 4 cups assorted lettuces
5-6 radicchio leaves
1-2 watermelon radish
1 d’anjou pear
1/4 cup pistachios (or roasted hazelnuts)
1/4 cup crumbled feta (optional)

Vinaigrette: (1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 clove minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste. You can also add 1/2 tsp of either cumin or Italian seasoning or any fresh herbs)

  • Rinse quinoa and simmer in salted water for about 15 minutes or until tender.  All water should be absorbed.  Let cool.
  • Heat 1 Tbsn oil in a skillet until almost smoking and add in the cooked quinoa.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, until the quinoa pops and sizzles and turns crispy, about 5 minutes. Let cool in the
  • Cut or tear the larger lettuce leaves into pieces.
  • Slice the radicchio
  • Thinly slice the radish, pear and avocado.
  • Sprinkle the cooled quinoa on top of the salad greens
  • Top with the sliced pear, radish, avocado, pistachios and feta.
  • Dress sparingly with the vinaigrette and toss gently.
  • Serve with more vinaigrette and feta on the side

 

 

 

Meatless Monday – Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

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Quinoa Stuffed Peppers3

What is the Vegetarian Times most popular recipe of all time? Drumroll please…  Quinoa Stuffed Peppers!  Who knew the humble stuffed pepper would get such high honors?  I decided to give the recipe a whirl in honor of VT’s 40th anniversary this month.  With those bragging rights, how could I go wrong?

My Mom used to make stuffed green peppers with a tasty mixture of ground beef, onions and rice.  Of course as a kid, I used to eat around the green pepper like it was a bowl.  Now, of course, the pepper is my favorite part.  I have also stuffed bell peppers with spicy sausage and other savory goodies but this is my first attempt at a vegetarian stuffed pepper.  I would probably not thought to have put these specific ingredients together but they really do work well together and they combine to pack a huge nutritional punch at a low calorie and low fat cost.  If you haven’t tried cooking with quinoa yet, don’t be shy.   There is a reason it’s everywhere so popular.  Quinoa is very easy to prepare and it’s nutrient rich, one of the only grains considered a complete protein source.  In this recipe, the quinoa and black beans provide a large amount of protein and nutrients and the multiple veggies, spinach, celery, tomatoes, carrots and peppers, add even more vitamins, minerals and fiber.  The cumin, garlic and pepper jack cheese infuse the quinoa mixture with a flavorful, slightly spicy deliciousness.  Yum!  I can see why this is a fan favorite! Congratulations Vegetarian Times on 40 years of promoting a health-conscious, eco-friendly and delicious lifestyle!

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TIPS: Don’t forget to rinse the quinoa before cooking to remove the naturally occurring bitter saponins sometimes still remaining.  This recipe provides fairly healthy proportions. (I had some quinoa mixture left over even after stuffing 8 bell pepper halves)  Leftovers freeze well and, if you package the peppers separately, make wonderful and convenient individual servings right from your freezer. Or you could easily halve the recipe to serve four (2 bell peppers) or possibly a couple more if there is extra stuffing. I doubled up the cumin and the garlic for extra flavor and because I’m a cumin freak.  Otherwise I followed the recipe with great results.

Quinoa Stuffed peppers16

QUINOA STUFFED PEPPERS

1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 ribs celery, finely chopped (½ cup)
1 Tbs. ground cumin (or more to taste)
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp. or more to taste)
1 10-oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
¾ cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
3 large carrots, grated (1½ cups)
1½ cups grated reduced-fat pepper Jack cheese, divided
4 large red bell peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs removed

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers15

  • Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and celery, and cook 5 minutes, or until soft. Add cumin and garlic, and sauté 1 minute.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers12

  • Stir in spinach and drained tomatoes. Cook 5 minutes, or until most of liquid has evaporated. Stir in black beans, quinoa, carrots, and 2 cups water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender.

Quinoa Stuffed peppers9

  • Stir in 1 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

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  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour liquid from tomatoes (or a splash of olive oil and 1/4 cup water) in bottom of baking dish. Fill each bell pepper half with heaping ¾-cup quinoa mixture, and place in baking dish.

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  • Cover with foil, and bake 1 hour.

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  • Uncover, and sprinkle each pepper with 1 Tbs. remaining cheese.

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  • Bake 15 minutes more, or until tops of stuffed peppers are browned. Let stand 5 minutes. Transfer stuffed peppers to serving plates, and drizzle each with pan juices before serving

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers17

 

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers3

1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 ribs celery, finely chopped (½ cup)
1 Tbs. ground cumin (or more to taste)
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp. or more to taste)
1 10-oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
¾ cup quinoa
3 large carrots, grated (1½ cups)
1½ cups grated reduced-fat pepper Jack cheese, divided
4 large red bell peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs removed

  • Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and celery, and cook 5 minutes, or until soft. Add cumin and garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in spinach and drained tomatoes. Cook 5 minutes, or until most of liquid has evaporated.
  • Stir in black beans, quinoa, carrots, and 2 cups water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. Stir in 1 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour liquid from tomatoes (or a splash of olive oil and 1/4 cup water) in bottom of baking dish.
  • Fill each bell pepper half with heaping ¾-cup quinoa mixture, and place in baking dish. Cover with foil, and bake 1 hour. Uncover, and sprinkle each pepper with 1 Tbs. remaining cheese. Bake 15 minutes more, or until tops of stuffed peppers are browned. Let stand 5 minutes. Transfer stuffed peppers to serving plates, and drizzle each with pan juices before serving

 

 

 

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Roasted Maple Glazed Acorn Squash, Apples and Pecans over Rainbow Quinoa

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Roasted Acorn Squash1

The time when you find the perfect balance between savory with a touch of sweet… By George, this is it!  Now if I could just find the same balance in my life all would be good, although we are trending in the right direction.  Next week my youngest turns 20, signaling the end of thirteen years of the ‘terrible teens’ which were both better and worse than I expected. Teenagers are actually pretty wonderful, young people (most of the time), they just happen to come with loads of friends (and friends of friends) with enormous appetites, and they use a lot of towels.   Alas, time marches on and we are finding our new balance, a lot of sweet and a bit of savory. Life is good…

Roasted Acorn Squash3

I loved this acorn squash way more than I was expecting and I didn’t even have the urge to add cheese.  This is a vegan dish that you will love and it will love you back by providing loads of healthy plant based  protein, vitamins and minerals! I got the inspiration from a recipe by Edible Perspective and added more savories like ‘sweet’ onion, fresh sage, elephant garlic and whole pecans. Somehow all the flavors come together.  I wouldn’t change a thing.  I have always loved the shape of acorn squash.  When cut into circles they remind me of cartoon flowers.  This dish can also be made super casual with everything chopped and cooked jumbled together in a baking dish (I often do this).  The flavors are still wonderful, but it’s less of a presentation.  I really love the visual of the circles and wedges. It’s kind of like a cross between serving halved squash and a vegetable medley.  The slices are certainly less of a commitment to eat than an entire half and since they are uniform in size, they take less time for that perfect cook.  You can also chop the apples, onions, garlic, sage and pecans and stuff the slices for an impressive presentation, although you may need to add an egg to keep the filling together .  I’m sure I will give that a whirl sometime soon, perhaps for Thanksgiving. Stay tuned!

.Roasted Acorn Squash12

 

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa (rainbow or plain)
2 cups vegetable broth
2 medium acorn squash
2 large cloves elephant garlic (optional)
2 large sweet onions
small bunch fresh sage
2 apples
3 Tbsn olive or coconut oil
1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
salt + pepper

Vinaigrette:

1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsn olive oil
2-3 teaspoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
salt + pepper to taste

Roasted Acorn Squash2

  • Preheat your oven to 425* F.  Rinse and cook quinoa, if making, in vegetable broth according to instructions. Cover and set aside.

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  • Cut acorn squash in half crosswise and scoop out seeds.

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  • Slice into 1/2 inch rings

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  • Cut elephant garlic into slices.

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  • Cut the dried roots off the onions leaving the  core intact (you want the slices to stay together).  Slice into thin wedges.

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  • Combine the oil, maple syrup and cayenne (if using) in a small bowl. Place squash, garlic and onions in a large lightly oiled baking dish and sprinkle/brush with oil misture to cover. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Place as many squash as possible in a single layer on the bottom of the pan for proper browning, even if you have to use two pans.
  • Roughly chop sage. Core and thinly slice apples.  Spritz with lemon juice if not using right away to prevent browning.

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  • Remove pan from oven. Turn vegetables. Add the apples, pecans and sage.  Bake another 10 to 15 minutes or until golden.  You can broil the last five minutes but watch the pecans because they can burn.

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  • Serve over quinoa and sprinkle with vinaigrette.

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Roasted Acorn Squash, Apples and Pecans over Rainbow Quinoa

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Roasted Acorn Squash1

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa (rainbow or plain)
2 cups vegetable broth
2 medium acorn squash
2-3 large cloves elephant garlic (optional)
2 large sweet onions
small bunch fresh sage
2 apples
3 Tbsn olive or coconut oil
1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
salt + pepper

Vinaigrette:

1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsn olive oil
2-3 teaspoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
salt + pepper to taste

  • Preheat your oven to 425* F.  Rinse and cook quinoa, if making, in vegetable broth according to instructions. Cover and set aside.
  • Cut acorn squash in half crosswise and scoop out seeds.
  • Slice into 1/2 inch rings
  • Slice elephant garlic into slices.
  • Cut the dried roots off the onions leaving the  core intact (you want the slices to stay together).  Slice into thin wedges.
  • Combine the oil, maple syrup and cayenne (if using) in a small bowl
  • Place squash, garlic and onions in a large baking dish and sprinkle/brush with oil misture to cover.  Place as many squash as possible in a single layer on the bottom of the pan for proper browning, even if you have to use two pans. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Roughly chop sage. Core and thinly slice apples.  Spritz with lemon juice if not using right away to prevent browning.
  • Remove pan from oven. Turn vegetables. Add the apples, pecans and sage.  Bake another 10 to 15 minutes or until golden.  You can broil the last five minutes but watch the pecans as they can burn.
  • Serve over quinoa and sprinkle with vinaigrette

Wheatless Wednesday – Black Bean Quinoa Salad

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Black Bean Mango Quinoa Salad4

Tired of green salad?  This flavor filled quinoa salad with mango and avocado topped with an orange cumin vinaigrette is my new favorite!  I promise you won’t be bored. It’s a little bit spicy from the jalapenos, a little bit sweet from the mango, the black beans add a rich salty flavor and fresh avocado, purple onion, bell pepper and cilantro make it salad worthy.  Yum!

Quinoa is the perfect backdrop for these beautiful flavors.  It also happens to be a nutritional powerhouse, high in protein, low in fat, gluten free and loaded with lovely vitamins and minerals (but you don’t have to tell your family that).  What I didn’t know is that Mango is also a superfood, providing over 20 vitamins and minerals in every delicious bite. ( This puts a whole new light on my recipe for Mango Margaritas!)  Black beans add another protein and nutrient boost and their high fiber content helps keep your tummy full. Then there is the Avocado, which we now know is a good fat that is highly nutritious.   The best part of this salad though, is how great it tastes!  I can’t wait to have it again for lunch…

This is the perfect dish to throw together for an easy dinner or bring to a potluck, especially if you have leftover quinoa on hand (or you make it ahead), then it’s only about ten minutes of chopping, mixing and you’re done!  This salad can be made a day ahead, without the avocado.  Bring to room temperature then gently toss in the avocado, if using, before serving.

TIP:  You can buy mango pre-cut but it’s very easy to do it yourself (and less expensive) if you know the right technique.  How to cut a Mango

VARIATIONS:  If you don’t have, or like, mango, you can substitute orange or nectarine segments (or even canned or frozen corn).  Use a combination of yellow, orange, red and green bell peppers for lots of color.  This recipe is only mildly spicy using one red jalapeno pepper so double the amount of jalapeno peppers and add a bit more cumin if you like it hot.

Black Bean Mango Quinoa Salad

Black Bean Quinoa with Cumin Orange Vinaigrette

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 Black Bean Mango Quinoa Salad4

1 cup quinoa
1 cup mango, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 red or green jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, diced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro or parsley leaves, chopped
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
 
 vinaigrette
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt

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  • Rinse quinoa to remove bitterness and cook according to package instructions; set aside and let cool.
  • To make the vinaigrette, whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, orange juice, cumin and salt in a small bowl; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine quinoa, mango, bell pepper, jalapeno, black beans, avocado, onion and cilantro. Pour the vinaigrette on top of the salad and gently toss to combine.
  • If you aren’t serving immediately, place the avocado pit on top of the salad to keep the avocado from turning brown, or add the avocado right before serving .  Serve at room temperature.

Black Bean Mango Quinoa Salad8

 

Meatless Monday – Coconut Ginger Quinoa

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Coconut Ginger Quinoa8

 

Somehow 2013 came and went without my knowing that I was missing “The International Year of the Quinoa”  as officially  declared by The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. (The World’s Healthiest Foods)  I didn’t ‘discover’ quinoa until December, almost completely missing the superfood’s official year.  I’m on board now, though and always looking to include interesting seeds and grains in my diet.  Interestingly, Quinoa is not a grain but a seed (a Chenopod to be specific) related to  beetroot and spinach.  It is a complete protein and nutrient rich, including a source of calcium. Quinoa is gluten free and easier to digest than many other grains and pseudo-grains.

Coconut Ginger Quinoa is a flavor packed dish, the combination of onion, ginger and coconut providing a great balance of savory and sweet.  In addition to the quinoa, edamame and almonds give it a protein boost.  The apples and raisins add a natural sweetness and help make it kid friendly.  Younger kids might have fun shelling the edamame while you cook the quinoa.   This is a very forgiving dish that can be served warm or at room temperature, making it perfect for making ahead or bringing to a potluck. You can even make the quinoa ahead of time and assemble the ingredients at the last minute. Enjoy!

Coconut Ginger Quinoa

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 tsp. coconut or olive oil
½ cup onion, chopped (optional)
2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
1 cup quinoa
1 ½ cups vegetable broth

1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds
1 cup edamame, shelled
1 medium apple, diced
1/4 cup raisins, currants or cranberries (optional)
1/2  cup unsweetened coconut flakes or shreds (I used half and half)
Dressing (optional):  1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2 tsp honey
Coconut Ginger Quinoa3Coconut Ginger Quinoa9
  • Toast almonds in dry pan over medium heat for several minutes, or until fragrant and golden brown. Remove from heat and let cool. If you are using flake coconut, you can dry toast it as well for a nice nutty flavor.  Set aside.
  •  Sauté onion in oil 2 to 3 minutes, or until translucent.

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  •  Add vegetable broth, quinoa and ginger.  Simmer, covered for 15 to 20 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. (Note:  Rinse quinoa to remove any last remaining saponin, a naturally occurring but bitter covering.  If you don’t have a fine mesh strainer, just put quinoa in a bowl , fill with water and pour out as much water as possible without pouring out any quinoa.)
  •  Let partially cool and pour into a large serving bowl.

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  • Shell the edamame and boil in salted water for 4  minutes. Drain.  (Or you can add the edamame to the quinoa for the last few minutes of cooking)
  • Add edamame, almonds, apple, raisins and coconut to quinoa and toss to mix. Salt to taste.  Drizzle with dressing if using. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Wheatless Wednesday- Dhal Lentil Soup with Quinoa Cauliflower Cakes

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Dhal Lentil Sou[p

Red Lentil Soup with Quinoa  Cauliflower Cakes

I have an ongoing love affair with lentils which come in various colors and sizes.  I’m not picky.  My favorites are the French Green and the Black Beluga, both which hold their shape and don’t turn to mush unless you overcook them. I use them often for salads or side dishes.   I have opted to use Red Lentils which are traditional for this dish. Red lentils are softer and do get mushy which works well with soup.  The original recipe calls a lot of coconut milk.  I don’t want the extra calories so substituted vegetable broth for two-thirds of the liquid.

Dhal is usually served with rice but since its Wheatless Wednesday, I have decided to get more creative and have paired the soup with Quinoa & Cauliflower Cakes.  Since the quinoa cake recipe calls for only half the cauliflower, I thought it would be interesting to add the rest of the cauliflower to the soup, so we get cauliflower (one of my other current loves) two ways.

I got the idea for the Dhal and the Quinoa & Cauliflower Cakes from the ‘Vegetarian Everyday’ cookbook, which is also where I got the cauliflower pizza crust so I had high hopes. I did a test run of the cakes recipe over the weekend while my college boys were still home.  They were quite a hit, very tasty and a great use for leftover quinoa (although other grains would probably work too). This is not a carb free recipe, although they are all good carbs.  The oats are high in fiber and rich in antioxidants, and the quinoa is high in protein, magnesium, iron and calcium and its gluten free. Gluten free oats are available as a gluten free alternative. The quinoa needs to be rinsed before cooking to wash off the saponin powder which is a naturally occurring protectant to make the seeds unpalatable to birds.  Rinse until the water is clear and use a fine mesh colander as the seeds are pretty small and you will lose them down the drain.

The recipe also calls for ramps, which are a type of wild garlic usually only available in spring or summer.  I remember buying ramps at a farmer’s market in Maine last summer but didn’t really know what to do with them.  I think I added them to sautéed vegetables.  They are fresh and mild, not sharp like regular garlic.  I was unable to find ramps here in December so substituted spinach and garlic. My taste testers all agreed that the cakes would be even better with a sauce, so I paired the leftovers with a homemade Tzatziki sauce and brought them to a Niners game the next day where every last crumb was devoured.  They were just as good the next day, warmed up in the oven.  The yield is large so feel free to cut the recipe in half.

Dhal Red Lentil Soup

½ Tbsn coriander seeds or ground coriander

½ tsp mustard seeds or ground mustard

½ tsp cardamom seeds or ground cardamom

2 teaspoons curry powder

½ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp  ground ginger

¼ tsp chili powder

6 dried apricots, chopped

1-2 cups vegetable stock

1 can coconut milk

1 cup dry red lentils, rinsed

3 Tablespoons olive or coconut oil

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

salt and pepper, to taste

 

2 carrots, sliced

½ -1 head cauliflower, cut into florets

Handful of fresh spinach

 

  • If you are using whole seeds, crush them into a powder with a mortar and pestle.  Combine the spices and the apricot into a small bowl.
  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the spice mix and saute, stir continuously, until its fragrant.  Add the onion and garlic and saute until onion is translucent.
  • Add the cauliflower and carrots and stir to coat. Then add the lentils and broth.  Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste. If you want it a bit spicier add red curry paste and/or red pepper flakes to taste.  Just before serving add spinach and stir to combine.

Dhal Lentil Sou[p

[/recipe]

Quinoa Cauliflower Cakes with Tzatziki Sauce

  • Servings: 8-12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Dhal Lentil Sou[p

Quinoa Cauliflower Cakes with Tzatziki Sauce

(Makes 12 large or 24 small cakes)

1 cup quinoa

1 2/3 cups cauliflower florets

1 large handful wild garlic or ramps (or 1 cup fresh spinach cut into ribbons and 2 cloves garlic, minced)

4 large eggs

1 1.3 cups crumbled feta cheese

¾ cup rolled oats

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp coconut, avocado or olive oil for frying

 

  • Combine 2 ¼ cups water, the quinoa and a pinch of salt in a medium sized saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and gently simmer for about 15 minutes or until you see small tails (the germ) on the quinoa seeds.  Drain any excess water and set aside to cool.
  • Place cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until it is a rice-like texture.  Transfer to a bowl and add the quinoa, beaten eggs, ramps (or spinach and garlic), feta, oats and salt and pepper.  Stir until well combined.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Form the mixture into 12 patties with your hands.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan on medium high heat.  Add 4 patties at a time and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown.  Flip carefully and brown the other side a few more minutes.  Continue until all patties are cooked. Drain on paper towels.

Spinach ribbons
TIp:  An easy way to cut spinach is to stack the leaves and slice widthwise into thin ribbons.

Tzatziki Sauce

1 16oz container plain non-fat yogurt

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced

1 Tbsn olive oil

1 Tbsn lemon juice

1-2 tsp fresh dill

2 cloves garlic

  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. If it’s watery or too sour for your taste, add a bit of mayonnaise which will thicken it up and offset the sour.Tzatziki can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator several days.

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Crab Quinoa Tower

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crab tower

Crab season is here!  I had my first last week and it was sweet and delicious. It is less expensive and fresher to crack and clean your crab at home, however, if you don’t mind paying a bit extra, or you are in a rush for time, it can be nice to have it done at the market.  I don’t mind doing it myself and have included directions below.

I am excited to incorporate another grain into this menu that have never made at home before, quinoa.  As is my custom with new things, I googled quinoa and was impressed by what I found and sorry I haven’t made it before.  The Incas, who believed Quinoa to be sacred, called it “chisaya mama” or “mother of all grains”.  It is increasingly popular for its high protein content, dietary fiber and minerals; phosphorous, magnesium and iron.  It’s also a source of calcium, so good for vegans and those lactose intolerant. As a bonus it is gluten free.  For all those reasons, quinoa is considered a superfood. (www.Wikipedia.com) I used Rainbow quinoa but any kind will work just fine.

One note of warning, this recipe calls for an empty can for forming the tower.  Mine got recycled tonight so I had to open a new can.  Make sure your can has rims on both the top and bottom so the can opener has something to grab on to.  My salad tonight was only going to have only mixed greens and arugula but ended up with a few garbanzo beans and mandarin oranges since I had to open both cans to make my tower.

FRESH CRAB QUINOA TOWER

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa

2 cups vegetable broth

1 Tbsn olive oil

1 large ripe tomato, sliced into rounds

1-2 ripe but firm avocados, halved lengthwise, seeded, peeled and sliced horizontally

3 scallions, thinly sliced

1Tbsn parsley, minced

1-2 fresh, cooked crab, cracked, cleaned with meat removed (reserve claws) *Instructions follow

8 ounces mixed greens

1 bulb fennel, trimmed and sliced

Lemon vinaigrette (½ cup olive oil, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, 2 T red wine vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper)

Directions:

  • Rinse quinoa under cold water until the water runs clear. In a 1 quart saucepan, saute quinoa in olive oil until slightly toasted, about 5 minutes.  Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover until liquid is absorbed and germ has spiraled out, about 20 minutes. Let cool.
  • Prepare vinaigrette or use your favorite.  Put ingredients in a small container and whisk together or shake until combined.
  • Remove crabmeat from shells, retaining claws for garnish, and pull meat apart leaving large chunks.  1 crab will serve 4 with moderate proportions/2 crabs generously. Combine in a bowl with 3 or 4 Tablespoons vinaigrette, scallions and parsley.
  • Remove both ends from an empty food can (regular soup size) to make a hollow cylinder.  Wash and dry can thoroughly.  Place can in the center of one of the serving plates.  Spoon in one fourth of the couscous mixture and gently press down with the back of the spoon.
  • Top couscous with one slice of tomato, then a quarter of the avocado, pressing with spoon after each layer.  We love avocado so would use ½ half for each serving, however you can adjust the quantity to your liking. Top the avocado with a quarter of the crab mixture. While pressing on the crab mixture with back of spoon, slowly lift off can. Repeat to make three more plates. Top with a crab claw.
  • Toss greens and fennel with remaining vinaigrette and serve with crab towers.

CRACKING AND CLEANING A CRAB

crab1

 

  • Place the cooked crab on a cutting board on its back. Hold the body in one hand and gently twist each of the legs and claws off with the other.  Set them aside

crab2

  • Remove the tail flap and both flaps near the eyes.  Discard.

crab3

  • Pull off the back shell and remove the ‘dead man’, the spongy gills and the orange ‘skin’.
  • Rinse the body then cut in quarters.

crab4

  • Using a metal or wooden meat tenderizer, give several hammers to each leg, enough to crack the shell and allow access to the meat.

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