Archive for vegetarian

What I’m Eating: Quinoa with Lime and Vegetables

I’ve neglected you again, recipe blog! At first I was just going to take a break during my winter school break, and then, well, I didn’t post again.

BUT, I just finished cooking this awesome quinoa dish, and now I’m going to blog about it. If you’re not familiar with quinoa, it’s a South American grain (technically a pseudocereal because the plant isn’t a grass, but who’s counting) that is full of fiber and vitamins and has a complete protein and is also super tasty. I am not usually much into the “superfoods” idea, but quinoa is basically a superfood. It won’t satisfy my not-infrequent cravings for dairyfat (sometimes I really, really, need a milkshake. Or else there will be stabbings), but otherwise I probably could live on quinoa and very little else. Literally, it would provide most of your nutritional needs, not in that hyperbole way when people claim they’d never get tired of a food.

Also did I mention that it tastes delicious? Yet somehow I never seem to find successful ways to cook it. My college dining hall actually used to make this great dish that was basically just quinoa flavored with herbs, and it had a great fluffy texture, but I guess I usually add too much water or cook it too long, because mine always seems just a bit soggier and not as flavorful. It might also make a difference that the dining hall used red quinoa, and I can usually only find the white kind, if any. But enough about my troubles with quinoa, on to the recipe!

I used the dressing from this recipe but cooked the quinoa the normal way and substituted vegetables that I like better. The lime juice is a great complement to the mild, nutty quinoa.

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup chopped carrot
1/2 green pepper, chopped
4 scallions, chopped

Preparation

Soak the quinoa for about 20 minutes, then strain and rinse until water is very clear. The rinsing is very important, as the outer coating of quinoa is made of bitter saponin.

Bring the water to a boil, then add quinoa, cover tightly and reduce heat. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Whisk together lime zest, juice, butter, vegetable oil, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.

Saute onions in 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat, when they’ve just begun to brown, add carrots and green pepper and saute until tender but still firm.

When quinoa is done, add to dressing and stir until it’s absorbed. Add sauteed vegetables and scallions.

Notes

I actually used a little bit of olive oil and a little bit of vinegar instead of generic vegetable oil, because I love olive oil but I didn’t want it to compete with the lime, and I was also worried about not having enough lime juice–I just squeezed half a lime and hoped, so I thought the vinegar would help keep the flavor bright. I think it turned out great.

This could easily be a vegetarian main dish, particularly if you added some more vegetables or the black beans of the original recipe to give it a little more substance. As I made it, it definitely has the feeling of a side dish, and I’ll be eating it with the honey lime chicken recipe.

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What I’m Eating: Simmered Black-eyed Peas with Tomatoes

The original recipe is here.

My mother makes a delicious and simple dish of black-eyed peas and rice, and I was craving last week, but it doesn’t have much in the way of vegetables, it’s more or less 100% beans and rice, and I’ve been trying to focus on one-dish meals that are easy to carry with me to class. (I’m considering getting a bento box to make side dishes more convenient). So I looked for a black-eyed pea recipe with some vegetables in it, and found this one, which worked out pretty well.

Ingredients

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
2 (16-ounce) bags frozen black-eyed peas

Preparation

Heat oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and sauté about 4 minutes or until tender. Add tomato and next 3 ingredients; cook, stirring often, about 2 minutes or until tomato starts to soften.

Stir in black-eyed peas and 3 1/2 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer about 1 hour or until peas are tender. Season with more kosher salt and pepper, if desired. Serve hot or warm.

Notes

I had dried peas, not frozen, and I had no idea what the conversion would be, but I knew that a full 16-oz bag would be way more food than I needed, so I soaked 8 oz overnight and hoped for the best. I think maybe that was less than the recipe calls for, because I had quite a bit of liquid left after cooking, though I did reduce it by about a cup.

Probably I should have gone with the amount of water recommended on the bag, plus a little. At any rate, even watery it turned out delicious and reheated well. I ate it with rice for the complete protein, and the liquid flavored the rice and made it nice and tender in the microwave.

I didn’t have dried thyme all by itself, it’s not my favorite herb, so I added an Italian seasoning blend, my go-to for “this needs some herbs but I don’t know what.” To my unsophisticated palate it worked out just fine.

Finally, I cooked some ham separately and added it in with the simmering step, for a bit more flavor and because my roommate does not trust legume-based protein. She claims her nails haven’t been growing as fast and blames my cooking–I love legumes. I don’t think it was enough to make a real difference but it made her feel better. Plus ham is tasty, and the same ham steaks I bought before were still cheap. At any rate, I think this recipe would work with or without the meat.

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First Guest Recipe!

I’m really glad to get initial encouragement from people, especially since last week was a little overwhelming for me. But I managed to rest and relax a little this weekend, and I’m feeling much better. So now, here is a recipe! I was going to try to cook it myself before posting, but while I did get time for some cooking this weekend, this one just wasn’t in the works. But I think it looks pretty great, so here is Helena’s suggestion:

I’m writing because I recently discovered a great and easy recipe that has two fantastic advantages. Since I have a very hectic work schedule, I often make quick meals that don’t include enough vegetables or protein. Now and then I start to feel tired, and really crave vegetables or steak as part of my body’s desire to get me back into balance. The following recipe is great on both fronts – tomatoes for the veg (ok, fruit, but still) and lentils for the protein.

Lentil Salad with Tomato and Dill

Ingredients

1 cup dried lentils (preferably small French lentils)
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3/4 lb tomatoes, diced (2 cups)
4 large scallions, thinly sliced (3/4 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar, or to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

preparation

Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan with lentils, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are just tender, 15 to 25 minutes. Drain in a large sieve, then transfer to a large bowl.

Toss hot lentils with tomatoes, scallions, dill, basil, vinegar, oil, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste.

notes

You can prep everything for the salad during the 20 minutes the lentils are cooking, so it’s fast.

For the budget conscious:
– You can get 2 salad runs out of a bag of lentils < $1
– Olive oil, vinegar, and garlic (minced, in a huge jar) are staples that are usually in the kitchen, but their prices don’t work out to much per round of the salad
– The tomato content is 2-3 depending on size, so typically less than $2
– Green onion content also < $1
– The herbs are the priciest part, but if you grow your own basil and dill, they’re FREE!
So if you grow your own herbs, you can probably put a round of this together for less than $5. With my (small) appetite, I generally get 4-6 meals out of this, but even for hearty appetites getting 1-2 meals, that’s pretty cheap.

I prefer my food a bit spicy, so I kick this up with a little extra black pepper and some dried red pepper flakes.

I recently served this at a dinner party for 6. With the other dishes, people took small enough portions that there was enough left over for 2 very satisfying meals (I’m a one-dish kinda gal when I’m eating alone, so that’s enough for me, but as a side the portions would be smaller and the freshness of it mixes well with either light or rich main courses – at the party I served it with goat cheese and scallion stuffed breaded chicken roulades – yum!). This salad also packs well for lunch at the office that doesn’t require reheating.

So there you go. I think this sounds simple, cheap and delicious, and I’ve got most of the ingredients already. I’ll probably look for fresh tomatoes at the farmer’s market this weekend and make some for my lunches next week.

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