Yesterday I spent about an hour browsing the melamine aisle at Target and it felt really amazing. Turning over the various floral pattern plate sets and palming the smooth plastic cups available in a variety of sea greens was just what I needed to come back to my domestic decision-making reality and refocus my attention after a blissful holiday week in Michigan.
We didn’t do much recipe experimenting while on vacation, but we did roast marshmallows and grill the best veggie burgers I’ve ever eaten – thanks Michael, Stephanie, “Baby Lily”, and Kosar! I did, however, manage to try a wonderful new recipe for Quinoa with Roasted Summer Vegetables and Harissa Marinade from Amy Chaplin’s book “At Home in the Whole Foods Kitchen” before leaving town which I cannot recommend enough. The roasted vegetables and quinoa are the basis of many traditional Italian dishes, but the aromatic Harissa – a mild chile paste that’s a widely used staple in North African and Middle Eastern cooking – added an unexpected spicy flavor which will soon become a new staple in my kitchen.
Quinoa with roasted summer vegetables
1 cup quinoa
2 zucchini, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
1 orange pepper, seeded and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
1 yellow pepper, seeded and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
1 pint cherry tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, cut into wedges
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Pre heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook quinoa two parts water to one part quinoa on medium heat for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Place zucchini, peppers and cherry tomatoes on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and toss to combine. Put in oven and roast 20 to 25 minutes, stirring half way. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Heat a skillet over high heat add a tablespoon of olive oil and red onion and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes. Lower heat to medium and cook about 10 minutes or until onions are caramelized. Add a pinch of salt, stir and remove from heat. Set aside to cool.
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 to 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper, depending on how hot you like it
1 clove garlic, crushed
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Large pinch sea salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Warm a skillet over a medium flame and add the cumin, coriander and caraway seeds, toast for 3 minutes, shaking pan occasionally. Transfer into a spice grinder and grind until fine. Place ground spices in a bowl and add the cayenne, garlic, lemon juice and salt. Stir and then drizzle in the olive oil, stir until smooth. Spoon harissa in a small bowl, add lemon juice and olive oil. I actually did about 1/4 cup olive oil to break down the paste a bit more. Stir well and set aside.Place cooked quinoa and roasted vegetables in bowl, drizzle with harissa, and gently toss to combine.
I often make grilled vegetables for the week to enjoy with pasta or salad, but it never occurred to me until this week to puree those grilled vegetables into a soup base and then pour that over a grain base to make a yummy stew. WHOA MAMA! Imagine the possibilities. It all started with this amazing recipe for a Mexican flavored vegetable soup with quinoa from Reboot with Joe which I altered slightly just because it is literally impossible for me to make a recipe without changing it somehow just for the hell of it. And now that the seed has been planted, I am definitely going to experiment more with spices, flavors and grains. This soup is hearty, sweet and spicy, and makes a nice substitute for the usual chili.
MEXICAN RED QUINOA SOUP
2 red peppers
2 green peppers
2 jalapeno chili peppers
4 cloves garlic
1 medium red onion
3 tomatillos, peeled
2 15 oz. cans of black beans
1 cup frozen corn
1 pint cherry tomatoes
4 cups organic vegetable broth
4 green onions, sliced
1 handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
1 cup cooked red quinoa
sea salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Discard all stems and seeds from the peppers (if you want it spicier leave in jalapeno seeds). Roughly chop field peppers and onion. S[read whole garlic in peel, whole tomatillos, cherry tomatoes, onion and peppers onto baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and roast until pepper skin is soft, about 15 minutes. While roasting, heat broth in pot. Remove baking sheet from oven. Peel garlic and place all vegetables into broth, and add half of the corn and beans. Blend with a hand blender until smooth. Add remaining corn and black beans, stir, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Serve over bed of quinoa and garnish with chopped scallion and cilantro.
Once a year we get professional family photos taken so that we can have photos of my kids with pants ON and me wearing make-up. Inevitably the day starts with screaming, bribes of lollipops, white truths about going to a “play date” and hurriedly packing dry snacks that can’t ruin the clothes that I painstakingly scoured at Target to find that match in size 3T and 12 months. I get exactly 3 minutes to apply makeup and tell my husband to tuck in his shirt, and then I pack a bag of back-up clothes in case things go horribly wrong. Upon arrival, the kids promptly run rampant and immediately need snacks. We gather them up in arms, and after each group photo the photographer probes “Do ALL of you need to be looking at the camera?” Yes. Snap. “OK, but do ALL of you need to be smiling???” Thanks to the magic of Renee Gooch and Gooch Too Photography in Chicago, none of these behind the scene shenanigans affect the staggering images that are produced. It’s too easy to forget as parents to take pictures of yourselves WITH your kids, and not just a million photos OF your kids.
So why not share a messy recipe to pair with the clinically clean beauty of the photography studio?! This week I made vegan BBQ Lentil Mushroom Quinoa Burgers, once again found on Veg Kitchen with Nava Atlas. Served on a whole-grain bun, these make for a healthy lunch and actually hold together better the day AFTER you make them.
BBQ LENTIL MUSHROOM QUINOA BURGERS
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked brown lentils
2 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
2/3 cup quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons grilling seasonings
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 425º F. Heat the oil in a medium skillet and sauté garlic and onion over medium heat until translucent. Add the mushrooms and saute another 4 minutes or until wilted, then transfer the mixture to a food processor, followed by the cooked lentils. Pulse on and off until the mixture is finely chopped, but not pureed.
In a large mixing bowl combing the remaining ingredients, then add the food processor mixture and mix until thoroughly combined. Line a baking sheet with a reusable liner or parchment paper. Use 1/2-cup measuring cup to make a level scoop of the mixture then invert onto the baking pan, and then flatten into a 1/2-inch patty with the bottom of the measuring cup. Repeat with the remaining mixture. This should make 8 – 10 burgers. Bake for 15 minutes, then carefully flip each burger, and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.
Today’s recipe is one of the BEST things I have eaten in a long time. I found it on the popular blog www.twopeasandtheirpod.com and thought it tied in nicely with this months Real Simple magazine feature about “health bowls” – combining fresh salad ingredients with unexpected flavors and grains. This Asian Quinoa Salad features some of my favorite ingredients, the only thing missing is potato chips. Because potato chips are amazing. I diverted from the original recipe and added some roasted unsalted peanuts for some extra crunch, and used my nifty food processor on the grater setting for the cabbage and carrots instead of chopping by hand. This delightful recipe tastes amazing for several days in the fridge and would be a popular potluck dish. And need I say VEGAN. And that is worth celebrating!
ASIAN QUINOA SALAD
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup shredder red cabbage
1 cup shelled and cooked edamame
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 diced cucumber
1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup lite soy sauce or tamari sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Boil 2 cups of water then add 1 cup quinoa, cover and turn down to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Place the quinoa in a large bowl and add the cabbage, edamame, red pepper, peanuts, carrots, and cucumber. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, green onions, cilantro, sesame seeds, ginger, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the quinoa salad and stir to combine.
Quinoa is an amazing and versatile ingredient that is cholestorol-free, fat-free, and high in protein, iron and fiber. It is also a complete protein, which means it provides all of the essential amino acids. I use quinoa as a substitute for pasta and other grains because it is AWESOME. In fact, when Asher was a baby I used to mix cooked spinach with apple sauce and quinoa in a bowl and he literally could not shovel it down his throat fast enough! However, as soon as his fine motor skills developed he learned that this concoction also made a nice splatter of mess all over the walls and floors, and then quinoa became purely an adult entree in our household. This week we enjoyed a delicious Mexican Quinoa Salad that would make a delicious addition to picnics or dinner parties, and also would work nicely as a stuffing in peppers if you want to make something easy to keep in the fridge for the weeek.
MEXICAN QUINOA SALAD
1 cup quinoa
2 ears of corn, “kerneled”
1 green pepper, diced
1 can black beans, drained
1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
Juice of 2 limes
Boil 1 1/2 cups water is small sauce pan, then add quinoa and simmer for 20 minutes. In small bowl, combine lime juice, salt, cumin, chili powder and cumin. When quinoa is cooked, let cool for an additional 20 minutes. Combine in mixing bowl with corn kernels, green pepper, black beans, and cilantro. Top with salsa and queso fresco when served. And did I mention this entire dish costs around $10?? Enjoy!