Breakfast Under Five Minutes: Quinoa with Dried Cranberries, Golden Raisins and Slivered Almonds

I am not Bethenny Frankel.

I don’t even watch The Real Housewives of Whatever.  (My mother on the other hand loves that series.)

Some may even say she’s a better example of a human being than me.

Like, she’s a hardcore yogi.

Her arms are way more jacked than mine.

She’s either one of the best business women of 2011 or her agent/manager is Yoda.

What I owe in interest every 10 days for my student loans is probably what she makes per hour.  Correction, minute.

She owns an obedient, little dog while I have two cats that love to overeat and have tried to ruin Christmas by knocking over the tree.

But.  But!

I recycle.

Ok, I don’t know if she recycles or not, and quite honestly, even I don’t recycle sometimes.

I’m a terrible person, I know.

However, I hope that this quick and easy breakfast will convince you to forgive me for my non-Bethenny arms, drowning in student loan interest and occasional recycling ways.

This warm bowl of quinoa is creamy from the soy milk, has a hint of sweetness from the maple syrup and chock full of different textures with bright, sweet-tart cranberries, slightly plumped golden raisins and crunchy slivered almonds.  Quinoa is also a complete protein, so put down your cold, chalky protein powder shake and treat yourself to a warm breakfast that almost tastes indulgent.

Seriously.  You deserve more than that shake (despite what Sue Sylvester tells you).

*Roo was extremely dubious when I placed this in front of him from breakfast, not knowing how to deal with a non-savory quinoa dish (he suddenly forgot that he’s eaten it in a cake before).  Just try it.  I promise you it won’t taste like a quinoa patty with maple syrup on top of it.  Pinky swear.

Adapted from Bethenny Frankel

Makes One Serving (recipe can be easily doubled, tripled, etc.)

Ingredients

Half cup of cooked quinoa

3 tablespoons of soy milk (or any other non-dairy milk)

1 tablespoon of maple syrup

Half tablespoon of dried cranberries (or whatever you prefer as a yummy dried fruit)

Half tablespoon of golden raisins

1 tablespoon of slivered almonds (or whatever nut you prefer)

Equipment

A bowl

A clean spoon (or whatever you plan on eating the quinoa with, to mix the ingredients)

Microwave (or if you don’t own one, a small pot)

Add the cooked quinoa, soy milk (or other non-dairy milk), maple syrup, golden raisins, cranberries (or whatever you prefer for dried fruit) and slivered almonds to a bowl.  Mix together with a spoon (or whatever eating utensil you have on hand) and throw in the microwave to heat through for a minute or two (depending on how strong your microwave is).  If you don’t own a microwave, dump the ingredients after mixing into a small pot and place on you burner on medium low heat.  Cook till heated through, stirring occasionally.  Serve warm.

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Potstickers with Quinoa and Shitake Mushroom Filling

I love our cats, I really do.

But like any relationship, we’ve had our ups and mostly downs.

When I first moved in with Roo two summers ago, what I can only describe as “hazing” by Evil Monkey happened for months.

Roo tried to explain Monkey’s bad behavior for “not being used to girl things,” as I sat in that apartment, terrified to move.

It was probably one of the hottest summers in a few years, which forced Roo and I to have the fans on high throughout the apartment.  Some hot afternoons I would try to lie down on the couch to nap; hair carelessly dangling over the side and blowing in the fan, only to have Monkey jump up and attempt to scalp me.  There were also times where I would wake up, from the false comforts of sweet dreams, to find her chewing on my hair.  Wide eyed, mewing and chewing, a few inches from my face.

Horrifying.

Summer dresses ruffling in the crosswind from the fans were also open to kitty attacks.  To be immersed in a book, left one open for a Monkey run-by, as she would grab at my dress, trying to claw her way up my legs, only to bound off by my incessant screeching and squirming.

There were times where I told Roo I was going to sit naked in our apartment for safety sake.  To which he replied, “do you really think you’re going to be safer, naked?”

I never sat there naked.

And while Monkey no longer outright terrorizes me in our apartment, she has developed some other quirks.

Her love for toilet paper has forced us to store it in a resealable plastic bag.  She loves to climb up the Christmas tree and knock down ornaments; shredding them up and leaving them in her wake.  Her obsession with bottle caps and aluminum foil make us fear for her own safety and can never be left out, like toilet paper.

Yet we recently discovered she has an even more dangerous habit.

Water glasses.  She loves to push water glasses off of tables.

And when I came home from work today, to find that she knocked over a water glass from the coffee table, shards of broken glass embedded in our crappy carpet, I lost it.

I vacuumed the mess in silence.  Cleaning up all the pine needles, glass and other “bits of Monkey” (clumps of hair, string, and God-knows-what else lives underneath our couches).  And then I locked myself in the living room, a convenience of having french doors with a hook-and-eye at my eye level; something Monkey could never unlatch with her sneaky paws.

I still sit here now, writing up this post about potstickers (or supposed to be about potstickers), eating my dinner and watching Monkey as she watches me from outside the french doors.  Pacing, sitting and watching, pacing again.  Sometimes sticking her paw in the gap, where the doors don’t quite reach the hardwood floors, attempting to pull it open, only to be foiled by the hook-and-eye.

And you know what?  These potstickers are delicious.  Probably more delicious than anything I’ve eaten this week, as we know a victory (albeit a small victory as my nemesis right now is a cat…I know) makes everything taste like happiness.

I had initially made these potstickers for Roo as he was missing the pork-filled gyoza I used to make him before our lifestyle change.  The texture is virtually the same, and I honestly think they even taste better (victory aside).

Thin, crispy dumpling wrappers, envelope a quinoa and shitake mushroom filling, packed with umami.  Avocado is used as the binding ingredient, something I experimented with great success, as I didn’t feel comfortable using a flaxseed-egg in a non-baked good.  It can’t be tasted in the filling, as its outshone by the bright ginger, super savory shitake mushrooms, with just a little bit of bite from the scallions.  The chili dipping sauce is the same I used for my potstickers with lentil and caramelized onion filling, and pairs just as fabulously with these.

I also love that this is a dump-and-mix dish; all the ingredients for the filling are thrown in a bowl, combined, then scooped into empty dumpling wrappers.  The most labor intensive part of this dish is folding the wrappers, which is not hard at all.  All it takes are wet fingers to run along the edge of the wrapper, then folded, and then tossed in the pan to cook.

If anything, don’t wait till you’ve locked yourself in the living room to try these.  They’re just too good.

Adapted from No Recipes

Ingredients

For the potstickers

One and a half cups of cooked quinoa

A heaping half cup of dried shitake mushrooms added to a cup of hot water and set aside to rehydrate, then minced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

3 scallions, dark and light green parts minced (a scallion with three branches basically)

1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger (be sure not to do more than this as it’ll make the filling bitter)

4 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce

4 teaspoons mirin

2 teaspoons sesame seed oil

1 avocado, mashed with a fork until smooth

Salt to taste (I use a quarter teaspoon of fine sea salt)

1 package of gyoza wrappers

1 to 2 tablespoons of mild tasting olive oil (or any other mild tasting oil) to pan fry the gyoza with

A cup of warm water

For the chili dipping sauce

1 red chili pepper (I used a Mirasol, but whatever you have on hand that’s spicy)

One tablespoon of sugar

Quarter cup of soy sauce

Quarter cup of water

3 scallions, dark and light green parts minced (a scallion with three branches basically)

Sesame oil to taste (it’s pretty potent so my “yum” may be your “blech”)

Equipment

One medium sized mixing bowl

One very large saute pan

One water glass (to hold warm water in)

Tongs/Chopsticks (whatever you can use to pick up the potstickers with from the pan)

A small bowl (for your chili dipping sauce)

Add a quarter cup of water and a quarter cup of soy sauce to a small bowl.  Cut open the chili pepper with a knife, sprinkle with sugar, and then start chopping.  Smash the sugar into the chili pepper with the knife while cutting it up.  Stop when chili pepper is diced.  Scoop up the chili pepper and sugar and add to the small bowl.  Add the diced scallions.  Stir to combine.  Taste, and add the sesame oil to your liking (start off with a couple drops!).

In a medium sized mixing bowl add all your ingredients and stir till combined.  The mixture should be very wet (like the consistency of ground pork filling for non-vegetarian gyoza/potstickers).  Taste and season with salt if desired.  It should be seasoned well so that it can be eaten on its own.

Place your wrappers on a flat surface.  Add about a teaspoon of filling to the center of each dumpling.  Wet your fingers in the cup of water, and run your fingers along the edge of each wrapper.  Fold the wrapper in half, and press the edges tightly closed.  Keep going with this process until you run out of filling.

Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to a large saute pan.  Place the pan onto a burner over medium high heat.  When the oil starts to shimmer, start laying down your potstickers into the oil, making sure that they don’t touch.  This prevents them from sticking together.  Cook the potstickers until they are golden brown (the side face down in the oil).  Add the one third cup of water, and then cover the pan immediately with a lid.  Cook the dumplings for a couple of minutes, until the water is almost evaporated.  Remove the lid and cook the potsickers until the water is evaporated.  For me, this took about a minute.  Remove the potstickers from the pan. If necessary, repeat with any remaining potstickers.

Serve the potstickers with the dipping sauce.

Quinoa with Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Parsnips, Carrots and Butternut Squash

Did you…

come home to see that the cats had knocked down your Christmas tree?

get your hands covered in wretched, sticky sap after putting the tree back up?

curse under your breath as you were washing off your hands, because you forgot that this also happened last year?

hysterically accuse your cats of hating Christmas while they just stared at you?

then find two green beans in your sneaker the next morning?

Coming home to a disaster in the living room isn’t exactly what I want to deal with before making dinner.

Instead, it makes me want to pour myself a glass of wine; throwing some items onto a baking sheet and into a pot, being just an after thought.

Thankfully this recipe is just that (sans wine).

Most of the work comes from prepping the veg: peeling, cutting, tossing with a bit of olive oil.  Then throwing them onto two baking sheets and roasting them while the quinoa cooks in a pot.  (Or rice cooker. And if you’re lucky, it’ll sing to you when it’s done.)

It’s also very easy for it to look lovely in presentation: quinoa placed on a platter with assorted roasted veg on top; all their caramelized edges facing outward, just asking to be snatched up and popped into hungry mouths.  It’s quite possibly the easiest way to impress guests for a meal that took less than an hour to make.

I love the sweetness from the roasted veg and golden raisins, crunch of the toasted almond slivers, and basically any excuse to eat quinoa.

It’s so good that it almost makes me forget that the cats tried to ruin Christmas.

Serves 4

*This recipe is so simple to add flavors to that you’re craving during the winter months. Feel free to add, for example, a sprig of rosemary to your quinoa as it cooks. Or for example, for added richness, a tablespoon of butter.*

Ingredients

One cup of quinoa, rinsed

Two cups of low sodium stock (I used homemade vegetable) (*if using a rice cooker, fill the bowl to the “1” with stock after adding the quinoa)

2 – 3 tablespoons of mild tasting olive oil (basically enough olive oil to lightly coat the veg before going into the oven)

1 teaspoon of fine sea salt salt

Half a small butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cut into half inch pieces (the smaller the chop, the faster it’ll cook!)

1 pound of brussels sprouts, halved

1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped into one inch chunks

Two large carrots, peeled and chopped into one inch chunks

One third cup of golden raisins

One third cup of almond slivers, toasted

Salt and pepper to taste

Equipment

A small pot to cook the quinoa with a lid, or a rice cooker (this is what I used)

A sharp knife

A vegetable peeler

(At least) Two cookie sheets

Two large bowls (or one, and after tossing the veg with olive oil clean it out and use it to serve the meal with)

A small pan (to toast the almonds with)

A spatula

A platter/very large plate to serve the dish on

Place your oven racks to the middle upper and middle lower positions in your oven.  Preheat your oven to 400F.

In a small pot add the quinoa and stock.  Place over a burner on medium high heat and bring the liquid to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer the ingredients for about ten to fifteen minutes, covered, or until the curly-q tail (you’ll know it when you see it) is visible.  Remove the pot from heat, fluff the quinoa with a fork and set aside.

If using a rice cooker, add the quinoa and then stock, filling the bowl to the “1 cup” marker.  Cook on “quick cook,” or whatever similar setting you have on your rice cooker.  When the quinoa is cooked, fluff it with a fork and set aside.

In a large bowl add the brussels sprouts, parsnips, carrots and butternut squash.  Add the olive oil and salt.  Toss all the ingredients together (I used my hands) till well coated with the oil and salt.

Throw all the veg onto your cookie sheets and place in the oven on the upper middle and lower middle racks.  Roast for about thirty minutes.  Halfway through roasting turn all the veg over so that they can be browned on both sides, and rotate the cookie sheets, placing them on different racks.  The veg will be done when they’re browned and soft when pierced with a fork/knife.  Remove the veg from the oven and set aside.

In a small pan add the almond slivers and place over a burner on medium heat.  Watching the nuts closely, swirl them around over the heat until they are browned.  Remove from heat.

In another large bowl (or the one you tossed the veg with, cleaned), add the quinoa, roasted veg, raisins and almond slivers.  Toss the ingredients together till combined.  Taste and add salt and pepper if desired.

Scoop out the quinoa onto a platter then place the roasted veg on top.  Serve immediately, being sure to scoop up all sorts of veg and quinoa onto your plate.

Quinoa, Greens and Root Veg Soup

I’ve totally been embracing this whole “eating New England style” as November comes to a close.  “New England style” is basically eating the produce that’s available in New England during fall and winter.  It largely consists of storage crops and winter greens.  Produce like potatoes, winter squashes, onions, kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and even tatsoi.

Also, soup has been served practically everyday in our little apartment.  LLN basically reflects what Roo and I eat, so hopefully you haven’t grown tired of the seasonal veg and soups that have been featured.  I honestly can’t get enough of it!  I am absolutely in love with swinging by the farmers market at city hall to see what’s available that day.  Sometimes I peruse the tables out of need for a recipe, and other times it’s to just pick up an item or two, if only to support the farmers that trekked into the city, just to sit in the cold all day.  Just a note: the more you frequent a vendor, the more likely they’ll remember you and try to give you a better deal (ie I’ve received a free handful of this or that and sometimes a couple of apples).  It really does pay off to shop local.

Ok, enough about farmers markets.

I’m here to write about soup.  Soup that I was able to make in thirty minutes after a quick chop of some seasonal produce and a stir in of quinoa.  Soup that has a bit of heat from red pepper flake, an earthiness from rosemary, loads of textures and a “complete protein” that makes even the judgmental of a plant-based diet hush as they dunk chunks of warm, crusty bread into the broth.

It’s incredibly flavorful and fast.  It’s a soup that warms our bones on nights when the heat drops below freezing and our uninsulated windows remind us that summer is over and it’s time for tea, blankets and baking.  Lots of baking.

And like most soups, it tastes even better the next day, as the flavors are able to meld together; potatoes completely infused with the spicy earthy broth.

Which leads me to ask, have you made a soup with quinoa before?  What do you typically use quinoa for?  I’ve used it in cakes, salads and now soups.  I don’t think there’s anything this little seed can’t do.

Inspired by The Urban Vegan Cookbook Recipe for Quinoa Soup

Adapted from Spicy and Hearty Potato, White Bean and Kale Soup

Ingredients

1 – 2 tablespoons of olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pot)

2 medium onions, diced

5 cloves of garlic, minced (love garlic, LOVE)

1 – 2 teaspoons of red pepper flake (if you’re heat sensitive, start with a half teaspoon)

1 bunch of collard greens, (about a pound) leaves removed from stems, torn with hands into easily edible pieces (you can use kale, collards were all I had.  I would not recommend spinach, unless if it was added right at the end, as it’s incredibly delicate compared to kale, etc.)

8 cups of low sodium broth (I used homemade vegetable)

Half to 1 cup of dry quinoa (1 cup results in a lot of quinoa with very little broth.  If you’d like to have a lot of liquid in your soup, use half a cup)

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons of dried rosemary

2 carrots, chopped (the smaller you cut them, the faster it’ll cook)

3 to 4 medium potatoes, chopped (the smaller you cut them, the faster it’ll cook)

1 (15 oz) can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (optional)

Equipment

One large pot

A sharp knife

A vegetable peeler

A spatula/tongs

Pour olive oil into your pot and place over medium high heat.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add the onions, and cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.  When the onions turn golden brown (it may take more than five minutes depending on your burner), add the garlic, red pepper flake and rosemary.  Cook until fragrant, about a minute.

Add the broth, quinoa, bay leaves, greens, carrots and potatoes.  Stir to combine the ingredients.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Once at a boil, reduce the heat to bring the soup at a simmer.  Cook until the potatoes are tender, about fifteen minutes.

Add the beans if using, and stir in.  Simmer for about five minutes longer, then serve.

Demerara Quinoa and Carrot Cake

Just a warning, this is not your typical all-American, “carrot cake.”

I’ve said in the past that I hate carrot cake.  I wish I liked it, I really do.  It would, for example, make family functions easier, as my father loves carrot cake.  He has even gone so far to question my relation to him, as he can’t understand why I, his daughter, would loathe a nut filled, over spiced, cream cheese laden thing.  Ok, the latter part is my description of the cake.

Sorry Dad, I’m yours, carrot cake hating daughter and all.

Well, now that we’ve gone over that speed bump, let’s start over fresh.

I’ve been receiving what seems like an endless supply of carrots from my CSA.  Week after week I’ve opened the cute, little green reusable shopping bag to find bundles of crooked-legged carrots waiting to be used at the bottom.

I love carrots raw, cooked in savory dishes, whatever, just don’t put them in a cake.  Roo on the other hand, likes carrot cake, but isn’t a fan of them otherwise.  And for someone who doesn’t like carrots, he’s had to endure them for dipping into hummus, soups with a suspicious amount thrown in (“Where are the potatoes?”), and a stir fry that should have honestly been called, “carrot sauté with a couple green leaves on the side.”

Needless to say, I needed a new sneaky method to use up the carrots without Roo becoming convinced he was going to turn orange from an overdose.

Quinoa carrot cake was the answer.  I was a bit nervous making it as I’m clearly jaded from the original stand-by from (what I’m convinced of) “suburgatory.”  Also, I’ve never used quinoa as a “flour” for a cake before, and had no idea how it would turn out.  Would it still be intact, curly-tails and all?  Would it have a strange aftertaste?

The cake turned out to be extremely moist, with a subtle nutty flavor (from the quinoa), and the crunchy demerara sugar topping almost made me almost feel a little guilty when eating it.  Like stealing the sugar crusted tops of blueberry muffins your mother would make on a Sunday morning, kind of guilty.

Was that just me as a kid?

But don’t feel guilty dear reader, it is so so good.

Like snakes on a plane good.

If you like that kind of thing.

No?

Well then you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Adapted from Fresh365

Ingredients

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 cup demerara sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling

Three quarters of a cup of white whole wheat flour (If you only have all purpose, you can use that)

Three quarters of a cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

Quarter teaspoon fine sea salt (I use Diamond)

Half cup vegan butter (like Earth Balance), melted and cooled

Half cup soy yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds, combined with 6 tablespoons of water, mixed and set aside for about 10 minutes)

1 heaping cup, loosely packed, finely grated carrots (I used the “fine grate” side of the blade on my food processor)

Equipment

A loaf pan (I used an 8″x4″)

Two medium sized mixing bowls

A spatula

A whisk

Parchment paper (optional) to line your loaf pan with, or vegan butter and flour to coat your pan with

Place your oven rack in the middle position in the oven.  Preheat your oven to 350F.

Line your loaf pan with parchment paper, or grease and flour it.  Set aside.

In your first mixing bowl, add the quinoa, white whole wheat flour, all purpose flour,sugar, baking soda and salt.  Mix them together with a whisk.

In the second mixing bowl, add the melted butter, soy yogurt, flax eggs and vanilla extract.  Mix them till combined.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, in increments, mixing till just combined.  Fold in the grated carrots till combined.

Pour/scoop (the batter is quite thick) the batter into your prepared loaf pan.  Smooth off the top of the batter.  Or not, and call it “rustic.”

Place the loaf pan in the oven.  Bake the cake for about an hour.  At the 45 minute mark, sprinkle the tablespoon of demerara sugar over the top of the cake.  At the 50 minute mark, check the cake with a toothpick/cake tester (I used a knife as I ran out of toothpicks).  If the toothpick/cake tester comes out clean, it’s done.  If not, bake for another five minutes, and repeat testing until the cake is done.

I’ve eaten this cake warm, and it’s delicious.  But, like most bakers suggest, it is better to wait to eat this cake when it’s cooled to room temperature as it tastes best the way it’s supposed to be served.

Cherry Tomato Quinoa Salad

This past weekend Roo and I spent the day at Peggotty Beach in Scituate to celebrate a friend’s birthday.  Leading up to that point had been a bit worrisome as the birthday girl wanted to spend it at a roof deck pool.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that we were not cast members of The Hills and didn’t have access to such amenities.  Suggestions were thrown about via email for a few days, as well as a trend of useless facts (“40,000 Americans are injured by toilets each year,”), but thankfully we found a desirable destination due to Roo.

Roo and I drove down to Scituate together, parking the car at his mother’s house.  J was the first to arrive, and we were able to catch up a bit before the birthday girl – driving the rest of the group – showed up.  And she did not disappoint.  She was actually still in party planning overdrive; spending the day before at KMart and The Christmas Tree Shop, buying practically everything one could think of to bring to the beach.  There were beach chairs, towels, coolers filled with drinks, snacks (including a vegetable and a fruit platter) and even an easy-up tent.  Hours before we were to leave for Scituate, she called me with concern, wondering if I had a boom box to keep everyone entertained as we lay there in the sun.  It kind of made me love her more.

Sunbathing, rummaging through the coolers and not talking about work was how we spent our day.

No boom box necessary.

Only when the sun started to go down and the shore nearly cleared out, that we began to pack everything up.

(photo taken by B)

Today I couldn’t help but think of the salty air, pebbly sand beneath my feet, and the hiss and pops of bottles being opened from wonderfully overflowing coolers.  Our third floor apartment is once again hot – and air stubbornly stagnant – despite three fans blowing full blast in the kitchen.

I made another salad.

Like all salads I make, it may not be the prettiest, but it had what I was craving for the day.  A salty bite from feta, juicy, just picked tomatoes, and crunch, with a bit of sweet, from toasted almonds, only to be balanced by a lemony herbaceous oregano vinaigrette.

If you’re run down from this heat – that seems more and more inappropriate, like creepy Uncle Stan when he puts his hand on your knee – then take the day off from the kitchen.  Salads are the new spa day.  Maybe.

Ok, not really, but they’re delicious.

Adapted from Simply Recipes

Serves two generously

Ingredients

One cup cooked quinoa, cooled to room temperature

Quarter to half a head of lettuce (how hungry are you?), washed and dried well, torn or cut into easily edible pieces

A pint of cherry tomatoes, or three beefsteak (or whatever you have on hand that’s ripe) tomatoes, cut into easily edible pieces

1 cucumber (about the length of your hand, from the tip of your middle finger to the wrist), peeled and chopped

3 scallions, thinly sliced (not terribly necessary, just trying to use up my CSA)

One handful of slivered almonds, toasted and cooled to room temperature

Juice from one lemon

Quarter cup of olive oil

1 teaspoon of dijon mustard

1 tablespoon of dried oregano

Sea salt to taste

Cracked pepper to taste

Equipment

A very sharp knife

A small pan

A salad spinner, if on hand (but it’ll make your life so much easier for only $30!)

A rice cooker or a medium sized pot (can hold up to four cups)

A small bowl that can hold up to a cup of liquid

A whisk

I find that cooking a half cup of quinoa yields about two cups of quinoa.  In a pot add half a cup of quinoa and one cup of water to a boil.  Reduce the heat so that the contents simmer for around 20 minutes or until the quinoa opens up.  The quinoa will reveal a little curly cue tail (like a spiral) and it will be soft to chew (softer than cooked barley).  Drain any remaining liquid and set aside to cool to room temperature.  If you have a rice cooker, throw the quinoa in, adding the water to the “white rice” 0.5 cup level, and press quick cook.  If you and your dinner guest are absolutely famished, you may want to eat a cup of quinoa each over your salad.  I typically serve half a cup of quinoa per person.  With the leftovers you can always make quinoa patties.

While the quinoa is cooking, prep the veg.  Make sure that your lettuce is absolutely dry so the vinaigrette will adhere to it to make a properly dressed salad.

In a small bowl, juice one lemon.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil into the bowl as you whisk.  You should use about a quarter cup for the two to come together, but not all lemons yield the same amount of juice, so keep adding until the mixture is emulsified.  Add the oregano, whisk together and add salt to taste.  Set aside.

Put a handful of slivered almonds into a small pan over medium heat.  Toast the almonds, shaking the nuts in the pan about twice a minute until lightly browned.  Keep an eye on it as it can burn quite quickly from the toasted stage.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

To plate up your salad, put down the lettuce as your base.  Then add the diced cucumbers, quartered tomatoes, cooled quinoa, and top with the toasted almonds.  Sprinkle a bit of feta on top.  Serve with cracked pepper.

Quinoa Patties

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this past week, you’re aware that the Bruins won the Stanley Cup last Wednesday.  And this past Saturday, Boston held the championship parade.

Roo and I were unable to see the parade (he has been waiting for the Bs to win the cup since he was traumatized by their last playoff game years ago) as he had to attend an all day bachelor party and I had to go to work.  That, unfortunately, didn’t mean I missed out on experiencing the Bruins fans.

I decided to take public transportation to work – as I usually do during the week – to avoid the mess of road closures.  I don’t know if that was the best decision I made…

Around 11:30 I took the bus to Kenmore station, and the ride was surprisingly quiet.  My guess was that most of the fans had left very early so they could get a spot right up against the road to cheer their team on as they rolled by.  Park Street however, was a different story.

Walking down the stairs to get to the red line, there was this sound, a sound I can only describe as the scene from the movie Gladiator, when the men are walking up the ramp only to hear a roar from the crowd beyond the wooden doors.  And yellow!  The platform was packed with Bruins fans, in their yellow and black shirts, shouting words like, “Bruins,” “Cup,” “Yeah!,” and other things that I couldn’t make out because it was so loud.  The majority of them appeared to be in their early twenties, and, wasted.  At the base of the stairs MBTA employees were yelling at those who walked down (and then clustered in front of them), to move down the platform to make room for everyone.  But there really wasn’t any room left.  The normally cool underground subway station, was overcrowded, humid, and smelled of sweat.  And beer.

How we all managed to get onto the train, still boggles my mind, but for some reason karma disliked my getting a seat.  I only had to go one stop, but not a minute after we moved, I got elbowed on the bridge of my nose.

That’s right.

It honestly happened all to quickly for me to even block the hit, but there was a scuffle amongst – I think – friends (who were drunk).

When I got home after work I just wanted something comforting to eat (for me and my now roman nose), with little time at the stove as it was quite warm out.  I threw quinoa in the rice cooker, and thumbed through a new favorite cookbook of mine, Super Natural Everyday.

I never had quinoa until I started reading the author’s blog.  And now quinoa is something Roo requests, which is especially rewarding because I never thought that the boy from “the most Irish town in America” would ever eat something that wasn’t a normal side to chicken or beef.  But that’s my own crow I have to chew on.

Adapted, just a little, from Super Natural Everyday

I didn’t make them super round and all pretty, probably because I was feeling a bit ugly myself, but they truly are delicious.  Crispy on the outside from being pan fried with a bit of oil, a tiny bite from the onion, with creaminess from the egg, parmesan and garlic; it’s just what you need when you’re having an off day.

Serves Four as a Side, Generously

Ingredients

About two cups cooked quinoa

4 large egg whites (you can use 4 eggs – I can’t because of Roo, *note: this will also create a more sturdy mixture as the egg yolks I find are a better binder)

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt (I use Diamond brand)

1 large onion diced

1/2 cup parmesan cheese grated

4 cloves of garlic, minced (I love garlic, but if you’re not as big of a fan, use 3)

1 cup panko

1 – 2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper flake (this little something really adds to the dish, if heat scares you, start with half a teaspoon)

3 tablespoons olive oil (for the pan)

Equipment

One large bowl

One large saute pan with cover (if you don’t have a cover, it’s ok, I have forgotten to cover the pan and it’s worked out just fine)

A spatula

A pair of tongs or another spatula (to flip the patties)

A sharp knife

I find that cooking a half cup of quinoa yields about two cups of quinoa.  In a pot add half a cup of quinoa and one cup of water to a boil.  Reduce the heat so that the contents simmer for around 20 minutes or until the quinoa opens up.  The quinoa will reveal a little curly cue tail (like a spiral) and it will be soft to chew (softer than cooked barley).  Drain any remaining liquid and set aside to cool to room temperature.  If you have a rice cooker, throw the quinoa in, adding the water to the “white rice” 0.5 cup level, and press quick cook.

Add quinoa, egg whites and salt to the large bowl and combine with spatula.  Add the onion and garlic, parmesan cheese, panko and crushed red pepper flake. Fold in all the ingredients till combined (it’s going to make a pretty sticky “batter”).  Pour the olive oil into the pan and set the burner on medium heat.  As the oil starts to warm, make your patties.  I like to grab about a palmful of “batter,” and roll it in between my hands, flattening it down before putting it into the pan.  Hopefully by the time you finish your first patty, the oil will start to shimmer.

Place the first patty in the pan.  If the pan is hot enough, the patty shouldn’t fall apart.  (I have found when using egg whites that the patty tends to fall apart in the pan if it isn’t hot enough.)  Then, keep going, making patties, and placing them in the pan, one by one.  (In my pan, I can fit all of them.)  Without crowding them, fit as many as you can.  Cover the pan (if you can, if you don’t have a cover, that’s fine, it just may take longer) and cook for 7 to 10 minutes.  You want the patties to be deeply browned (browned = ohmygoodness, who cares if I was hit in the nose).  Flip the patties with your tongs/spatula and then press the patties down to flatten them out even more (believe in the browning!).  Cook for another 5 to 10 minutes until golden brown.  Remove the patties from the pan and let cool on a couple paper towels.  Repeat the above steps with any remaining “batter.”