Vegan MoFo Day 15: Not Quite Fried Qunioa

I’ve shared my love for Appetite for Reduction before, but I’m going to do it again.

Unfried Rice (pg 70) intrigued me from my first flip through, so I gave it a try. It was good, but it wasn’t great.  I worked on it, and this is what I came up with.

Not Quite Fried Quinoa

1 c uncooked quinoa

1.5 c water or veggie broth

1 TBSP sesame oil

1 c onion, diced

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

2 c frozen mixed veggies (corn, beans, peas)

3 TBSP soy sauce (or alternative)

Cook quinoa in water by brining mixture to a boil, covering, and reducing heat to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes or until quinoa releases its white germ coating (the white, corkscrew tail). Remove from heat and allow to cool during next step.

Saute onions and garlic in sesame oil in large, high-sided pan. (Try to use the sesame oil. It adds a lot of flavor.) Cool until onions are translucent – about 5 minutes. Add quinoa and frozen veggies. Stir to incorporate onions/garlic/oil mixture. Add soy sauce and stir again. Let mixture sit for a few minutes (about 5). Resist the urge to stir! Allow mix to get a little crispy on the bottom. Stir  and allow to sit again (about another 5 minutes). Repeat as often as necessary to attain desired crispness.

I like to eat this as a main dish, so mine makes 3 pretty good servings. If you’re serving as a side, you can easily get 4 servings or more. Or, if you’re really hungry, you might only get 2 servings (but I recommend eating with a giant spoon for quickest consumption – ha!).

Not Quite Fried Quinoa

Vegan MoFo is about half over. Check out some new blogs, if you haven’t already!

Back to School Dinners

Ok, so this post is a little late. But at least now everyone that’s going back to school is back to school. And back to their crazy schedules. And back to having no idea what to cook. And no time to cook whatever ideas they do have. “They” includes me. If it doesn’t include you, that’s cool, your schedule is crazy enough without have classes, homework, prepping, grading, students, teachers..yyyaaahhh…to worry about. Regardless of what your days and nights consist of, we can all use a few quick and easy go-to dinners (and hopefully left-overs for lunch!) for busy nights. Enter, the Wilt-In.

What is a Wilt-In? Why, it’s a dish that has greens wilted in, of course.

It’s difficult for me to get my greens in. There, I said it. I have yet to become accustomed to green smoothies (Ok. I’ve only tried one – once – and it was terrible.) I know green, leafy vegetables are good for me. I know I can’t eat enough Cheezy Kale Chips to meet my daily requirement (Trust me. I’ve tried.) So, out of desperation, I began wilting leafy greens into various dishes, and eventually, I found a green I am in love with (Yea chard!), and a way to eat it that isn’t boring; I’ve yet to get tired of, and it’s super quick. O, and it’s a one-pot meal. Did I mention that? That’s right people, give the dishwasher the night off because this quick and easy meal is ready in less than 30 minutes from chopping to eating, and it won’t make a mess of your kitchen. Hello, healthy dinner!

Rainbow Chard Wilt-In

1 med onion, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 TBSP vegetable broth

1 bunch rainbow or Swiss chard

8 oz sliced mushrooms

Grain (quinoa works great) or Protein (beans are awesome) – optional

Seasonings to taste (salt, pepper, oregano, basil, parsley flakes, etc)

In a large, deep skillet, saute onion and garlic in 1-2 TBSP veggie broth (no need for oil). Cook until onions are translucent – about 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until tender – about 10 minutes.  I also like to add the seasonings here. Typically, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, dried parsley.

If using grain, add now. Uncooked quinoa will cook up nicely in a small amount of added veggie broth and the broth created by the mushrooms. (Add up to 1 cup dry quinoa and about 1/2 c veggie broth. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover, cook 10-12 minutes or until quinoa gives off little spirals.) You may also add beans now, if you’re using. However, if you’re using grains and beans, wait until the grain has cooked to add the beans.

Finally, wilt-in your greens. If you added grains, you may need to add a little more veggie broth to create steam to wilt your greens. If not, add greens in batches, stiring them into the mix. You may want to cover the pan to aid in the wilting process. Continue to add and stir until all greens are wilted.

You can, of course, add additional vegetables to the mix. Make it your own. Try different greens. Kale, collards, spinach – whatever looks good or needs to be eaten.

Stiring in cooked grains at the end works too. Or spooning over a mound of cooked grains or beans. Whatever is left over.

Rainbow Chard Wilt-In with Quinoa

I also love BBQ tofu  and whatever roasted veggies are taking up space in the fridge. Just add about 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce to a sauce pan, warm for a few minutes, then add 1 package of extra firm tofu, with the excess water squeezed or pressed. I wrap the tofu block in a double layer of paper towel, then wrap that in a dish towel and press the block with my hands against the counter. The tofu won’t retain its block form (it gets kind of squished), but it works great as chunks in the BBQ sauce.

I make my own, quick BBQ sauce.

Veggie V’s Quick & Easy BBQ Sauce

1 15 oz can tomato sauce

2-3 TBSP tomato paste (more or less to taste)

1 med onion, thinly sliced

1-2 clove garlic, minced

1 – 2 TBSP soy sauce (or tamari for gluten-free)

1 – 2 TBSP mustard

1 tsp maple syrup – optional

Seasonings: chili powder, paprika, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, parsley flakes

Saute onions and garlic in sauce pan with 1 TBSP veggie broth or 1 tsp oil until translucent – about 2-3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, including seasonings. Simmer for a few minutes to allow flavors to meld. Add tofu chunks and warm through.

Total time from chopping to eating – way less than 30 minutes.

Shaved brussels sprouts from Appetite for Reduction are my favorite side to make this meal complete.

BBQ Tofu & Shaved Brussle Sprouts

I love this cookbook, and I especially love this brussels sprout recipe. It’s crazy easy.  Thinly slice brussels sprouts (a food processor works great here). Add to a pan of sauted onions and garlic (Oil is a must here. 1 -2 tsp is plenty.) Salt and pepper sprouts. Stir to combine flavors. The let it sit on medium heat. The mix forms a little crust from the oil and the caramelized onions. Yum! Try to flip the mix after a few minutes (5 or so) so the rest of the sprouts have their chance in the pan. Cook another 5 minutes or so, and you’re all set!

With a little planning, quick and easy week night/school night dinners can be healthy and filling. There’s no need for take-out in my house 😉

Black Bean Bonanza

I’ve never met a bean I didn’t like. Seriously. When I was a kid, I would only eat the bean part of a meat/bean dish (Hum, early indications of vegetarianism? Oh ya!). Chilli? I’d only eat the beans. My mom’s goulash (kidney beans, mushy maccaroni, tomatoes, and hamburger) – I’d only eat the beans (and sometimes the tomatoes  – if they weren’t infiltrated with meat bits). Three bean salad? Ok, this was the one exception to my love of all things bean. CONFESSION TIME: Until recently, I didn’t care for green beans, and forget yellow-wax beans (Childhood memory: I thought they were made of wax – ha!). What kind of kid doesn’t like the standard green beans and corn as their go-to veggie choice?! (I’m still not a huge fan of corn.) Probably the same one who didn’t like ketchup – and never developed a taste for ranch dressing.

Ok, so back to the beans.

Beans are my friends. And they can/should be your friends too. They’re full of fiber and vitamins. Some are high in iron too. They’re great hot or cold – or anywhere in between. They’re even awesome sprouted! (For anyone interested in a raw diet or being high-raw, you can use sprouted beans without cooking them. It’s an acquired taste, but that’s how you learn to love new foods, right?) And don’t even get me started on how cheap they are! A bag of dried beans is less than $1.00 (and canned ones aren’t much more – and so convenient!). They can be soaked over-night and cooked in the slow-cooker all day while you’re at work or running errands. When you’re ready to prepare dinner, they’re ready to assist you 🙂 Oh, and if you’re worried about the not-so-pleasant side-effects of all that fibrous bean skin, don’t be! Your body will soon become adjusted to breaking down the cellulose walls of the bean and your intestinal bacterial will become more efficient and thus produce less by-products, which just means the “musical fruit” won’t be making music for very long!

In celebration of my bean-love, I made two black bean dishes last night. The first one, my delicious Warm Black Bean Dip, which I usually eat cold (yes, I see the irony in that), is great with Taco-less Salad, and the second one, Bodacious Black Bean Burgers (Is the bodacious too much? I just added that…) are so good, even Mr. M, a die-hard omni, eats them! (I’d call that a vegan victory.)

Warm Black Bean Dip

1 med/lg onion, diced

2-4 cloves garlic, minced (adjust to your taste)

1 can/1 c black beans, rinsed

1 sm can fire-roasted tomatoes (or 1 c fresh, diced)

1/4 c salsa or picante sauce

1/4 – 1/2 c cilantro, chopped

1 – 2 TBSP lemon (or juice of 1 lemon)

1 TBSP cummin

1 TBSP chilli powder

Salt & Pepper

Saute onions and garlic in a little EVOO (1 tsp should do it), cooking spray, or veggie broth/water (about 1 TBSP), until translucent – about 5 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, salsa (or picante), lemon juice and seasonings. Cook until thickens – about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro.  Mash mixture with a potato masher until thick paste forms.

Makes 4 (1/4 – 1/2 c) servings.

Taco-less Salad topped with all my favorite fixin's, include a entire avocado!

Like I said, I love to add this to Taco-less salad: Bed of your favorite lettuce, Warm Black Bean Dip (which is great cold!), diced onion, diced green pepper, diced tomatoes, sliced black olives, sliced green olives, avocado, and salsa. Sooo goood!

Bodacious Black Bean Burgers

1 med/lg onion, chopped

2-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 sm green bell pepper, chopped

1 med/lg carrot (or 2 smaller ones), diced

1 lg stalk celery, diced

2 cans/cups black beans, rinsed

1/4 – 1/2 c cilantro, chopped

2 TBSP salsa

1/2 c quinoa flakes (or sub old-fashioned oats or other grain flake)

2 tsp cummin

1 TBSP chilli powder

1 TBSP soy sauce

Salt & Pepper

Saute onions and garlic in a little EVOO (1 tsp should be enough), cooking spray, or veggie broth or water (about 1 TBSP) until translucent – about 5 minutes. Add green bell pepper, carrots, and celery, and cook until tender – about 10 more minutes. (Covering the pan with a lid with help create steam, increasing the cooking speed of the harder veggies and maintaining moisture) Once tender, add 1/2 to 3/4 of the beans, cummin, chilli powder, salt, and pepper. Stir through  and move from heat. Mash mixture with a potato masher until thick paste forms.

Scoop paste mixture into a bowl. Add salsa, cilantro, soy sauce, and quinoa flakes. Stir. If mixture is too sticky to handle (should easily form a ball without sticking to your hands in globs), add more quinoa flakes (1 TBSP at a time).

Scoop giant spoonfuls of mixture into your hands and roll into a ball (or press into a form to make perfectly shaped burgers). Place burger balls in large pan and lightly press into patty shape. Cook until crust forms on burger, then flip until crust forms on other side. TIP: Cover burger pan with a lid to maintain moisture.

Bodacious Black Bean Burger

Serve on a bun with your favorite burger add-ons or with your favorite south-of-the-boarder flavors, such as: salsa, sliced avocado or guacamole, sliced or diced tomato, sliced or diced onion, and/or a mix of your favorite sliced olives.


It’s Boating Season

We’re in the midst of boating season here in the Midwest (and everywhere else in the US) – water boats AND zucchini boats! I’m not much of a water boat kinda gal, but I’m all about the zucchini.

Why don’t I like boats? Well, since you asked, I’ll tell you. I’ve had bad experience after bad experience on boats. I’ve been stuck in the middle of Lake Erie on a broken-down boat during a round of severe storms that produced tornadoes and water spouts; I’ve gotten sea sick on a new boyfriend’s parent’s sail boat (while it was docked!); and, I’ve almost barfed on so many rocking, boat-like rides at fairs, carnivals, and theme parks that I’ve lost count. Hum…now that I think about it, most of my experiences have a common thread – throwing-up! Again, I hate boats.

Weird side-note: Mr. M and I are planning a cruise for our one-year wedding anniversary. I don’t know what I was thinking when I suggested it. He wanted to stay at a resort, but no, I insisted on a cruise. It’s a better deal; we can visit more places without the hassle of traveling to them; the food is (supposedly) good; we can go rock climbing in the middle of the ocean and be greater daily by a towel animal. I don’t see Sandles commercials promising towel animals!

Anyway, onto a tastier topic – zucchini boats. Zucchini is abundant in this part of the country at this time of year. We can still get the sweeter, more tender small squash (traditional green zucchini and yellow summer squash), and the bigger, more pulpy squash are starting to show up on break-room tables with signs begging people to take them home. Before I start stocking-up on hand-me-down gourds, I’ve been delighting in the smaller varieties, purchasing in bulk and receiving a discount from our local farm stand. The other night, I created this delicious dish….

I forgot to take the picture until I'd eaten half of my dinner. Oops!

Zucchini Boats with Quinoa & Mushroom Stuffing

2 – 4 small zucchini, halved lengthwise with seeds and pulped scooped out

1 c dry quinoa

2 TBSP + 1.5 c vegetable broth

16 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 med/lg onion, diced

2-4 cloves garlic, minced

salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350F. Roast the zucchini on a foil-lined cookie sheet while the stuffing cooks (about 30 minutes), flipping half-way through the cooking time. (I flipped when I put the lid on the quinoa.) The boats should be fork tender, but still holding their shape.

Saute the onions and garlic with the 2 TBSP’s of vegetable broth until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until they shrink (about 10 – 15 minutes). Add the quinoa (rinse if necessary) and toast for about 3 minutes, stirring often so it doesn’t burn. Add the remaining vegetable broth. Bring the mixture up to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa gives off its little round threads (FYI – red or black quinoa will take longer to cook and the threads are harder to see). Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the zucchini shells from the oven and fill with stuffing mixture. Return to the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture forms a nice, crunchy crust. Optional add: Top with veggie cheeze or cheeze sauce.

I had a lot of stuffing left over, so I added chickpeas to it and ate it for lunch and dinner the next day. Sooooo good!