Posts Tagged With: quinoa

quick lunch – 7.2.12 – a bowl of Southern summer goodness

Summer in the South is a magical time.

A time when tomatoes plump to their juiciest fullness, when squashes just grow and grow and grow, when sweet corn practically bursts from its husks, when a myriad of hot and sweet peppers are ripe for the picking, when okra pods stretch to that perfect two or three inches, when pungent onions and garlic just beg to be dug up and sauteed in a bit of butter to mellow out and flavor everything you eat.

A time when, goshdarnit, I just can’t get away from Athens Locally Grown or Daily Groceries without spending ungodly sums of money on all those gorgeous, flavorful local veggies.

And, since I’m a teacher, summer is also the time when I can cook at least two meals a day if I want–and that’s quite often the case, because heaven knows there’s not so much time for culinary tomfoolery once school starts back in August.

So when I surveyed the contents of our kitchen a few weeks ago after a particularly splurge-y spree at the market, looking for lunchtime inspiration, here’s what I found:

all that’s missing is one of those fancy wicker cornucopias

A most inspiring collection of colors and flavors, if I do say so myself.

So I set to slicing and dicing and sauteing and stirring, and here’s what I came up with:

bright, beautiful, delicious!

What’s in it:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups stock or broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium sweet onion (or, in my case, 3 tiny ones), diced
  • 1 medium bell pepper, quartered and sliced
  • 1 medium summer squash or zucchini (I used zephyr), quartered and sliced
  • 1 ear of corn, cut from the cob
  • 6 okra pods, thinly sliced (the smaller okra is, the sweeter and more tender it’ll be–look for pods that are 2-3″ long)
  • a big handful of cherry tomatoes (ours were sungolds)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a big handful of fresh basil, cut into slivers

Step-by-step:

  • In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add the quinoa and toast it in the oil for about 5 minutes.
  • Pour in the stock/broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.
  • Cover the quinoa and let simmer for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
  • While the quinoa cooks, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the garlic, onion, and bell pepper. Saute for 3-4 minutes or until the onion starts to look translucent.
  • Stir in the squash and corn. Saute for another 5-7 minutes or until the squash is almost tender.
  • Mix in the okra and tomatoes and cook for about 5 more minutes.
  • Add the cooked quinoa to the skillet and stir just until the mixture is combined.
  • Season with salt and pepper to your liking.
  • Divide your veggies and quinoa between two bowls and top with the fresh basil.
  • Eat up!

Our bowls of Southern summer goodness were enjoyed warm as a light but satisfying entree. For dinner, add your favorite protein for a heartier meal. (I’m betting shrimp would be amazing.) Or try this recipe as an excellent summer salad. Just chill it in the fridge for a few hours to serve cold alongside smoky burgers, crispy fried chicken, or your favorite grilled seafood.

And, of course, I whipped this meal up from a huge heap o’ veggies that I happened to have on hand, but you could easily adjust the recipe to match your own vegetable availability and tastes. As long as you use what’s fresh and in season, there’s really no way this quinoa veggie bowl could turn out anything less than fabulous. 🙂

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quick lunch – 5.7.12 – quinoa with tomatoes, feta, and mint

Maybe I caught a little bug, or maybe it’s just the last few weeks’ insane rush of activity catching up with me, but I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather these last two days. My symptoms (headache, stomach cramps and discomfort, and some serious fatigue) don’t point to anything specific that I can think of, but I’m hoping that taking a sick day today and spending most of it working from home in my pajamas will help me recover enough to return to school tomorrow.

Yes, working from home. Since our students only have a week and a half left of school, today was the day to send overdue notices home with kids who still haven’t returned their library books. I’m also working on suggested summer reading lists that will go home with the kids in the next few days. So while I did stay home sick, I’ve actually done about half of the work that I planned to accomplished at school today anyway. Which still puts me a half day (or more) behind….but that’s pretty normal. 🙂

Sick or well, a gal’s gotta eat. Breakfast was easy–reheating a pear oatmeal muffin and brewing some coffee–but we don’t really keep much easy lunch food around the house since we usually take dinner leftovers to work with us during the week…and today, we didn’t have any leftovers left. So, I had to come up with something quick that I could cook without much effort.

Quick starches in our pantry included pappardelle, couscous, and the last of the rainbow quinoa, so I gave Micah his pick. He chose the quinoa (surprising, because although he likes the flavor, he usually gripes about it getting stuck in his teeth).

This was the result:

the mint was the best part…

What’s in it:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided in half
  • 2/3 cup quinoa (we used rainbow)
  • 1-1/3 cup stock or broth (we used chicken)
  • 1/2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

Step-by-step:

  • Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the quinoa and toast it in the oil for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the stock/broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover for about 20 minutes. (I forgot to set my timer and let ours go a little long. Oops.)
  • While the quinoa cooks, crumble your feta, dice your tomato, and chop your mint.
  • When the quinoa is finished cooking, remove it from the heat. Stir in the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, along with the vinegar, tomatoes, mint, and feta.
  • Divide between two bowls and enjoy! (We ate this warm, but I’ll bet it would be delicious chilled as well.)

I thought our lunch turned out pretty tasty, and Micah loved it. The feta, an Athens Locally Grown item from Greendale Farm in Madison, GA, was really delicious–Micah said it was the best feta he’d ever tasted! And I might just have to agree. That sharp, tangy, salty cheese made very good friends with the cool mint and the sweet tomatoes.

My favorite thing about this recipe is that I can see so many possibilities for yummy variations. Our lunch was kind of Greek/Mediterranean, but why not go Italian by replacing the sherry vinegar, mint, and feta with balsamic vinegar, basil, and cubes of fresh mozzarella? Or travel south of the border with fresh lime juice, cilantro, and crumbled cotija?

I’m still not back to 100%, but enjoying such an easy, delicious lunch definitely made me feel a little better. 🙂

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quick lunch – 3.12.12 – leftovers mashup + quinoa

I’m on spring break this week (woohoo!), so Monday I decided to cook a midday meal for Micah and enjoy it with him on his lunch break.

The challenge? Leftovers.

Besides my neuroses about eating my food from contrasting dishes, I’ve also got a serious obsession with eating or using every last tidbit of leftover anything. Sometimes, that  just means I’ll eat chili every day for a week at lunch because we made a big batch. Sometimes, leftover vegetables go into a soup. Sometimes, that leftover soup becomes pasta sauce. And sometimes, I’ll save things like 3/4 of a cup of potlikker from a batch of collard greens.

Yes, I hoard cooking liquid. But if you’ve ever slurped up a spoonful of potlikker, you know why. It’s smoky and salty from the ham hock that simmered in with the greens, it’s tangy from a splash of apple cider vinegar, it’s spicy from a dash of hot sauce, and it’s sweet from a sprinkling of brown sugar. This humble stuff is amazing all on its own, and when you cook with it, you can work magic.

Besides this 3/4 cup of heavenly broth, what else did I have to work with? About two cups of leftover butterbeans from a veggie-filled supper last Tuesday, a couple of pork sausage patties from Sunday’s lazy brunch, some lovely cherry tomatoes, and a bag of rainbow quinoa.

The delicious result:

This came together in about 30 minutes (most of which was inactive time as the quinoa cooked), and Micah and I both enjoyed this hearty one-dish meal.

What’s in it:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup quinoa
  • 3/4 cup potlikker
  • two cups cooked butterbeans
  • two cooked patties of pork breakfast sausage (about 2-3 ounces), crumbled
  • about a cup of cherry tomatoes, halved (or quartered, if they’re big ones)
  • a little oil for drizzling over the top

Step-by-step:

  • Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the quinoa. Stir it around in the hot oil for about 5 minutes. (It’ll smell yummy and nutty as it starts to toast.)
  • Add the potlikker, bring the pot to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  • Cover and cook for about 20 minutes.
  • Stir in the beans, sausage, and tomatoes, and warm on the stove until the whole thing’s heated through.
  • Divide into two bowls. Or eat the whole pot by yourself, because that’s kind of what I wanted to do. 🙂
  • Drizzle with a little more olive oil, or (even better) a splash of red chile oil and cilantro oil. (We cancelled our cable and no longer have the Food Network, but we’ll always have the magic of Bobby Flay’s flavored oils.)

You could substitute your favorite variety of beans, any kind of sausage, a different grain….you could even use regular old chicken broth instead of the potlikker, if you have to. But if you happen to cook and eat a mess of greens any time soon, save the juicy goodness that’s left in the pot. It’ll change your life.

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