Snappy Quinoa

This week I was in the mood for the crisp, refreshing texture of sugar snap peas. My grocer only had a very large bag available so I had to come up with a few ways to enjoy them. Before I switched to a plant based diet, I used to enjoy fresh green beans with a sprinkle of bacon. Here’s a vegetarian version of something similar,  but served over quinoa it becomes a complete meal.

Snappy Quinoa
For the Quinoa
1 cup quinoa, cooked according to the package instructions
1/4 cup chopped New Mexico green chilies
5-6 roasted garlic cloves, chopped
After the quinoa is cooked, add freshly ground black pepper, garlic and the chilies, stir well.

For the sugar snap peas
4 cups of sugar snap peas
1/2 cup onion, chopped
4-5 Tbsp salad dressing (blue cheese, vinaigrette, ranch, etc)
2 slices smokey tempeh, cut into small pieces

Rinse the snap peas and remove the stems. Cut them in halves or thirds, depending on their size. Drop them into a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking process. Let them dry in a strainer or on a towel. I like them with a very short blanch, they remain crispy but they don’t quite taste raw. If you prefer them raw then skip this stop. Toss the sugar snap peas with everything else and serve them over the quinoa.

You can serve this as a complete meal at lunch, or serve a smaller portion as a side dish. Both the sugar snap peas and the Quinoa are great on their own, so if you run out of one before the other you won’t be at a loss.

Release YOUR Bonus Vivant and Savor Your Life!

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Qrunch Quinoa Burgers – Hit or Miss?

MISS- the main reason, Texture.

I dislike the name veggie burger because I’ve never eaten them to replace burgers. Before I switched to a plant-based diet I ate veggie burgers, or black bean burgers, simply because I like them. They could never replace a burger. Only a burger is a burger.

So that being said, you may wonder… what is wrong with the texture. They have the texture of quinoa and breadcrumbs, with nothing to bind them together. I found them to be too delicate, and easy to crumble, to stand up tp being eaten on a bun. And the mouth feel was a bit odd. I enjoy a bite of loose quinoa but there is something about a ‘patty’ crumbling in your mouth that lacks appeal.

As far as the flavor, there wasn’t really any flavor. I tried the green chile flavor. I didn’t really expect it to taste like green chile, but I did expect it to have a taste. After living in New Mexico for almost twenty years, I know that nothing produced outside of New Mexico, and sometimes Arizona, actually tastes like green chile. Sorry, but New Mexico has set the standard for green chile.

Were these so bad that I’d throw them away? No. But I will probably crumble them on a salad instead of eating them on a bun. I’m glad they were on sale! I guess quinoa just doesn’t have a texture that lends itself to being eaten on a bun.

Southwest Quinoa

Quinoa, like rice, is a great base for other flavors and an important component for a plant-based diet. I prefer the texture of quinoa for most things, it has more fiber and protein than brown rice, and it cooks much faster! This recipe would work fine with farro, or rice too! I serve this dish as a main course for lunch, with a side of salsas, or as a side dish to a dinner. It’s also a great candidate for the lunch box.

Southwest Quinoa

1 cup quinoa
1 can black beans
1/2-1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
2-3 chopped garlic cloves
3-4 TBS vinegar (apple cider, jalapeño)
2 cans chopped green chiles, or frozen green chiles

Cook about a cup of quinoa according to the package directions. For a more flavorful dish you can cook it in vegetable broth. Once all the water is absorbed toss the quinoa with all of the ingredients and sever it hot or cold. The measurements aren’t really important, if you like corn add more. Pinto beans are an easy substitution. Cilantro makes a nice addition if you want to give it a fresher taste. I keep jalapeño infused apple cider vinegar in a recycled lemonade bottle on the counter. Just add apple cider vinegar to glass jar with a lid. Then add jalapeños that have been scrubbed and quartered. Since the heat of the peppers can vary, you might want to make sure you’re using hot ones. Let it sit for a few weeks to infuse. Just top it off with more vinegar when it gets low. It’s a great addition to salad dressings and marinades too!

Release YOUR Bon Vivant, and Savor Your Life!

Don’t Fear Eggplant… Master It!

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Eggplant is like so many other delicious foods, it has a bad wrap because many don’t take the time to learn how to prepare it. But being low in calories and incredibly versatile, this nightshade deserves to be dealt with! I use eggplant in so many different ways it’s difficult to keep track of them. Recently I’ve been enjoying stuffed eggplant rolls. Today I filled them with red quinoa. eggplant_8035

Prepare your quinoa as per the package instructions. I like the toasting method as it adds a little more flavor. Also, I like to add some hot madras curry powder and freshly cracked black pepper to mine while it’s cooking.

For the eggplant, cut the top off and slice it thinly lengthwise, using a mandoline or sharp knife. Lay the slices on a baking sheet and drizzle them with olive oil, sprinkle them with freshly ground black pepper. Feel free to add any other spices – rosemary, oregano, paprika, cumin, etc. Turn them over and drizzle and spice the other side. Roast them in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, turning once. The time will depend on how thin your slices are. The thinner the slice the easier they are to roll.

When the quinoa is done, remove it from the heat and let it set. When the eggplant is done remove it from the oven and chop up the side pieces. Add these to the quinoa with some finely chopped onion and a drizzle of olive oil. When the eggplant slices are cool enough to handle place a spoonful of the quinoa mixture toward the wide end and roll them up. Place the rolls on a serving platter, drizzle them with olive oil, and sprinkle them with crumbled feta (preferable a sheep’s milk feta), and chopped mint. Serve them while they’re still warm. These are so delicious that you won’t believe you’re eating something healthy!

This is one of those dishes that is easy to alter. Change the spices to more of an Italian theme by adding freshly chopped basil or pesto to the quinoa, then top with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. Or go with a Mexican theme, flavor the quinoa with cumin and tomatoes and top it with grated cheddar and chopped cilantro. So many possibilities!

If you need a heartier dish add some cooked beans to the quinoa. For me this is easily a main dish, but if your hesitant to rely on it it fill you up introduce it to your table as a side dish. For a faster version I sometimes stack the ingredients instead of rolling them.

Until next time… Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

 

New Mexico Quinoa

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Here’s another summer dish that uses those delicious New Mexico Chiles.

Cook quinoa according to the package directions (or substitute rice, pasta, or potatoes). After it’s cooked and cooled toss it with chopped tomatoes, grilled corn that’s been cut off the cob, and of course chopped New Mexico Chiles. Whisk together some olive oil, vinegar (I used a jalapeño kumquat vinegar today), and ground cumin. Drizzle this over the salad and toss until everything is evenly incorporated.

To make a salad that is hearty enough to be a meal, add cooked pinto or black beans to the mix. You’ll have a one dish meal that didn’t heat the house!

To prepare the chiles I prefer an outdoor grill. Roast them over medium high heat, turning constantly. The skins will begin to blister as they heat. Take care not to burn them all the way through, your goal is to char the outside only. As you pull them from the grill, place them in a large lidded container. Let them steam in the container until they cool. This step is critical for easy skin removal. Once the chiles are cool, peel the skin, and remove the stems and seeds. Chop them into chunks and use them in salads, eggs, sauces, etc. Once the chiles are peeled they can also be frozen in zip top bags, freeze them whole or chopped.

Until next time… Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!