Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dinner #7: Colorful Quinoa Bowls

I struggle with making quinoa. It is apparently some type of wonder-food, but it is also one of the most bland things I've ever tasted. I have bookmarked a ton of quinoa recipes, but in reality have made very few of them. That is why I was so thrilled with how this recipe turned out!

It was flavorful, bright, and colorful. I almost wanted to title this post: "Snow on the Mountain Christmas Quinoa". I loved the slight bitterness of the broccolini, the sweet richness of the red peppers, and the saltiness of the Feta. All those flavors actually complimented the the "nuttiness" (read: blandness) of the quinoa.

Also, I finally am able to spell Q-U-I-N-O-A with confidence. Phew...that took a while! ;-)

Colorful Quinoa Bowl
Servings: 4
Difficulty: Easy

1 c. organic pre-rinsed quinoa*
2 small bunches broccolini, cut into 1 in. pieces
1 c. roasted red peppers, rinsed, drained and roughly chopped
1/4 c. capers, rinsed and drained
14.5 - 15 oz. can organic chick peas, rinsed and drained
3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2 tsp. dried oregano
S+P to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp. EVOO
4-6 oz. block of Feta cheese, cubed

Bring 2 c. water and quinoa to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 8-10 minutes. Throw the broccolini in the saucepan with the quinoa, cover it up again and cook about 5 minutes more until water is absorbed and broccolini is bright green.

Mix quinoa, broccolini, and the next 8 ingredients through EVOO in a large mixing bowl. Let mixture sit to cool slightly before serving it up in individual bowls. Finally, top with Feta cubes.

*If you don't buy pre-rinsed quinoa make sure you rinse it before cooking.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dinner #6: Baked Sweet Potatoes with Chili

The sweetness of the baked potato goes so nicely with the smokiness of the chili. Now I have to find a recipe for sweet potato chili...

Topped with Monterey Jack cheese, jalapeno slice and sour cream

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Chili
Yield: 6 servings
Difficulty: Easy

6 small organic sweet potatoes (I used 2 giant cut in half + 2 small)
2 tsp. EVOO
1 c. organic yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
red pepper flakes, to taste
2 - 14.5 oz. cans fire-roasted, no salt added tomatoes
1 - 15 oz. can organic pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 - 15 oz. can organic black beans, rinsed and drained

Possible toppings/garnishes:
Sour cream
Greek yogurt
Fresh cilantro
Thinly sliced jalapenos
Freshly grated Monterey Jack

Pre-heat oven to 400. Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork and wrap loosely in foil. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

While potatoes bake, saute onion and garlic in EVOO until onions are soft. Add spices and tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add beans and continue to simmer until potatoes are finished baking.

Split each baked sweet potato open and top with 3/4 c. chili. Add toppings as desired.

Topped with sour cream, cilantro, and jalapeno slices

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tzatziki Potato Salad

I had some leftover tzatziki sauce from the falafel I made at the end of last week.  I also had a bag of organic red skinned potatoes that I didn't want to go to waste. Then I saw this recipe come across my Google Reader.

I thought I could boil just enough potatoes to use up the tzatziki but looking back I now realize I was lying to myself. Upon tasting, I made more tzatziki and I boiled more potatoes.

I never would have thought to combine cool, tart tzatziki with starchy potatoes. To someone who never tires of classic potato salad, this variation is strange, new, and delightful.

Tzatziki Potato Salad
Adapted from smitten kitchen
Yields: 8-10 servings
Difficulty: Easy

2 1/2 - 3 lbs red skin potatoes, cubed
1 1/2 c. 2% greek yogurt
2 small organic cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh chopped dill + more to taste
Fresh squeezed juice of 1 lemon
Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Cook potatoes in salted boiling water until al dente.

While potatoes cook, combine greek yogurt, cucumber, dill, lemon juice, S+P.

Drain potatoes and combine with tzatzkiki sauce. Chill before serving.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dinner #5: Quinoa Falafel

I found a new favorite blog this week, SPROUTED KITCHEN. I love the photos and I love originality of recipes. Basically, I love the whole idea behind the blog. This is the first recipe I've made from the site and I'm sure that I will be making many more.

Disclaimer: This is not traditional falafel. It's a lighter take on the traditional street food from the Middle East. Also I realize that Tzatziki sauce is not a traditional topping for falafel. I just thought it would taste good did! I served the falafel topped with Tzatziki sauce on a bed of fattoush (chopped herb and vegetable salad with lemon and olive oil).

Fatoush Salad

Quinoa Falafel
Yield: 8 patties
Difficulty: Medium

1/2 c quinoa
1 c carrots, sliced
3 Tbsp parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 c green onions, cut to 1 inch pieces
15 oz can organic garbanzo beans (chick peas)
2 organic eggs
2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 cloves garlic
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Handful of panko bread crumbs, if too wet
2 Tbsp olive oil

Cook quinoa according to package directions.

Pulse carrots and parsley together in a food processor. Add the next 8 ingredients (through garlic). Pulse until combined. Add quinoa and season with salt and pepper. Pulse until combined. Note: If the mixture seems too wet, add a handful of panko bread crumbs and mix.

Add 1 Tbsp of oil to a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Divide falafel mixture into 8 portions. Shape each portion into a ball and flatten slightly. Cook patties in batches, adding more oil as needed. Cook falafel until nicely browned.

Remove from heat and top with sauce of your choice.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Homemade Pesto

I've always wanted to make homemade pesto! It turned out really well, certainly better than what I usually buy in a jar at the supermarket.

Use it to sauce pasta, as dip for veggies, spread it on pizza dough in place of tomato sauce, or my personal  favorite - mix it into scrambled eggs.

Roasted tomato and Gorgonzola ravioli with homemade pesto

Homemade Pesto
Adapted from
Yield: 1 c
Difficulty: Easy

1/4 c good quality EVOO
1/4 c pine nuts
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 c packed organic basil leaves
1/4 c grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp fresh squeezed  lemon juice

Place EVOO, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add basil leaves and pulse to a paste like consistency. Add Parmesan and lemon juice. Pulse till well combined. Refrigerate in an air-tight container for up to 1 week.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dinner #4: Eggplant Tortino with Kalamata Marinara

Only two weeks in and I'm already falling behind in blogging my recipes! I made this delicious stack of tender eggplant, fresh mozzarella, and creamy greens last week. The marinara sauce topping it all off is blended with kalamata olives which gives it a greater depth flavor. I wish there were enough leftovers that I could still be eating it this week.

I prepared this dish over two nights. I prepped the eggplant and the creamy swiss chard sauce one night and assembled and baked it the following evening. Serve with Trader Joe's garlic bread sticks, a big bowl of salad, or both.

I would take this over traditional layered lasagna any day!

Eggplant Tortino in a Kalamata Olive Marinara Sauce

Adapted from Closet Cooking
Yields: 6 servings
Difficulty: Medium

1 Tbsp olive oil + more for brushing
2 lbs eggplant (about 2 1/2 small), cut to 1/4 in slices
S&P to taste
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 bunches swiss chard, stems removed and discarded, greens chopped coarsely
1/4 c organic half and half
1/2 c freshly grated provolone
3 organic eggs, beaten lightly
1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly
1/2 c grated parmesan
3 c kalamata marinara (see recipe below)

Place a layer of eggplant slices in a large colander. Sprinkle generously with salt. Add another layer of eggplant slides, sprinkle with salt, and repeat until all eggplant is in colander. Let sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, rinse eggplant slices and pat dry. This will help to draw out some of the bitterness in the eggplant.

Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush parchment paper with a small amount of oil. Arrange eggplant slices on baking sheet, overlapping slightly. Brush tops of eggplant slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until eggplant is browning and beginning to soften.

Add 1 Tbsp oil to a pan over medium high heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir continuously for 1 minute. Then add swiss chard. Cook a few minutes until the greens are wilted. Add half and half. Stir until heated through. Then remove pan from heat and add the provolone. Wait until the mixture has cooled, then add the 3 eggs and mix to combine.

Spray an 8x11 glass baking dish with olive oil. Cover the bottom of the dish with a 1/3 of the eggplant, followed by 1/2 of the swiss chard sauce, followed by 1/2 the mozzarella slices. Build another lay of 1/3 of the eggplant, rest of the swiss chard sauce, and rest of the mozzarella. Top with remaining eggplant and sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the top.

Bake for 30 minutes until the sides are bubbling and the top is nicely browned. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Top each serving with 1/2 c kalamata marinara.

~ ~ ~
Kalamata Marinara:
1 jar organic tomato and basil marinara
handful of kalamata olives
red pepper flakes, to taste

Add marinara sauce and olives to blender and blend to your desired consistency. Heat over medium heat until bubbling. For a slightly spicier sauce, add 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes while cooking. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Seeing Green

Since being a weekday vegetarian, I am fast becoming a pro at washing and cleaning greens. It's nice to know I have a backup degree/career ~ PgC ~ Professional Green Cleaner.

It is not without its frustrations however. You start out with 2 huge bunches of greens and after cooking you have about 1/2 cup left if you're lucky.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Weekend Update

Even though meat was technically fair game on the weekend, we still ate much less of it than we normally would. Vegetables were still very much in the majority.

With that said...

...Mushroom butt!!!

Dinner #3: Mediterranean Orzo Mac and Cheese

Sorry for all the "Mediterranean" recipes! I promise I'll mix it up soon.

I served this mac and cheese with a caprese salad of heirloom tomatoes, thin slices of fresh mozzarella, fresh basil leaves, a drizzle of good olive oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh cracked pepper. The mac and cheese is very rich, so serve a cup size portion or less and compliment with a large side salad or other veggie.

This recipe will yield 2 dinners plus lunch leftovers for 2 people.

Mediterranean Orzo Mac and Cheese
Adapted from eat, live, run
Yields 6 servings

1 1/2 c. uncooked orzo
1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 c. organic low-fat milk, divided
2 Tbsp flour
2 c. white sharp cheddar, shredded
3/4 c. low-fat feta, divided
1/4 c. kalamata olives, chopped
14.5 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Pre-heat oven to 400. Cook orzo al dente according to package directions.

In a separate pan, combine butter and 1 c. milk over medium heat. Whisk flour with remaining 1/2 c. milk until smooth. Pour milk/flour mixture into pan and stir until milk starts to bubble gently and thicken. Remove pan from heat and stir in shredded cheddar, 1/2 c. feta, olives, tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper.

Drain the cooked orzo and add to cheese sauce. Mix well. Pour mixture into a greased 8x11 glass baking dish. Sprinkle remaining feta over the top. Bake for 15 minutes until edges are bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Clean out the Fridge Omelet

I threw this omelette together with some leftover ingredients from the Mediterranean frittata I made earlier this week. The combination of the slightly tart cherry tomatoes with the feta cheese is absolutely delicious.

olive oil spray
1 Tbsp butter
2 organic eggs
sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1/4 c cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/4 c cremini mushrooms, chopped
sprinkling of feta cheese

Lightly coat a non-stick pan with olive oil spray. Add mushrooms to pan and saute over medium-high heat for a few minutes until browned. Add tomatoes and saute for one minute more. Remove vegetables from pan and place on a paper towel to drain some of the oil. Melt butter in the same pan. Whisk eggs, salt and pepper in a bowl and add to pan. Cook until egg is just beginning to set. Then pour vegetables into the center of the omelet. Sprinkle feta on top of the vegetable mixture.

Omelet before folding over the edges

Gently fold over the edges of the omelet. Cook until the eggs are fully set. I like to flip it at least once to ensure the omelet is cooked through.

The Inspiration

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dinner #2: Saag Paneer

Saag paneer is one of my favorite dishes to order at Indian restaurants. One nice thing about being a weekday vegetarian (it's only been two days ha ha!) is that it causes me to dig out those recipes I've always wanted to try but never got around to. This is one of those recipes.

If you are not familiar with paneer, it is a firm, mildly flavored Indian curd cheese.

As they cooked in the butter, the paneer cubes got hot enough
that they started to jump around in the pan, essentially turning
themselves for the most part. It was pretty entertaining actually :)

I served the saag paneer with whole wheat naan. When we run out of naan, we'll switch to rice. This recipe will yield enough for dinner plus two days of lunch leftovers for two people.

Saag Paneer
Recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks
Yields 6 servings

1 1/2 lb baby spinach, washed and dried (a salad spinner will be your best friend here)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
12 oz paneer, cut into 1/2 in cubes
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 Tbsp freshly ground spice mixture (includes whole cloves, cardamom, mustard seed, coriander seed, cumin seed, red pepper flakes) *See 101 Cookbooks recipe for more info*
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 c buttermilk
fresh lemon juice
toasted sesame seeds

Wash, dry, and chop spinach. Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a large soup pot. Saute onions in butter until soft. Add salt, garlic, ginger, spice mixture and turmeric. Stir for 1-2 minutes. Add spinach gradually and stir constantly until spinach is soft and wilted. Pour in buttermilk. Continue stirring until buttermilk is heated. Remove saag from heat, taste and add more salt or red pepper flakes if needed. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the saag and stir.

Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Fry paneer in batches for about 7 minutes turning the cubes at least once. Tip: Give the cubes plenty of room so they can brown properly.

Mix paneer into saag and serve. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and more lemon juice if desired.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dinner #1: Mediterranean Mini Frittata

I served this mini frittata with organic spring mix and my house vinaigrette (I'll post that recipe soon). I multiplied the frittata recipe by four to yield dinner plus lunch leftovers for two people.

Mediterranean Mini Frittata
Recipe adapted from For the Love of Cooking
Yields 1 mini frittata

2 organic eggs
2 tsp organic low-fat milk
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
4 oregano leaves, chopped
2 tsp reduced-fat feta
4 kalamata olives, halved
5 grape tomatoes, halved
2 tsp red onion, small dice
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 350. Brush mini oven-safe crock with small amount of olive oil. Mix eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Place the oregano, feta, olives, tomatoes and onion into the crock. Pour egg mixture over the top. Bake for 30 minutes until the eggs are set.