laurenlikestocook

Shopping and First Dinner – Eye of the Quinoa

In Lentils, Mexican, Quinoa, Saving Money, Shopping, Vegetables on November 2, 2011 at 1:54 am

Since I only needed food for 4 days, I tried to be efficient and economical at the store.  This meant that instead of going to Fairway (which is a whole production), or the health food store (which does not have certain treats that Nick likes), I opted to go to the local Met market.  They have a decent selection of organic and conventionally grown produce, and they have 3 sections in which to find Diet Coke.  My quick mental goal was to spend less than $50, so this meant only what I could carry in a basket.  My bill tends to get out of hand when I use the cart and just surrender to the delivery service.  Excluding some last minute requests from the hubby, this mission was accomplished.

I picked up some staples, such as onions/scallions, carrots, lemons, salad ingredients ( I caved and bought 2 organic peppers), and greens.  The broccoli looked good (read: it was VERY on sale), winter squash is in season, and mushrooms are a good sub for my meatitarian.  Throw in some cilantro and fennel, and voila, all the veggies I’ll be working with.  The yogurt and fruits are for my breakfast/snacks for the week.

Ok, so now to the good stuff.  I took inventory of what I just dropped onto the counter.  I really felt like making a Mexican inspired meal (completely opposite of the Italian cuisine I’d been consuming the past 2 weeks).  I took a look at my very stocked pantry.  I try to organize by category, and the middle 2 shelves that are hand level are are my basic building blocks for a meal: grains on top, nuts/legumes on bottom.  Below is a photo for your enjoyment:

I decide on using quinoa for the grain and brown lentils for the protein.  Now, not everyone has the palate for plain quinoa; you definitely need to spice it up with herbs, veggies, broths, etc.  I cooked the quinoa in my rice cooker (what a Godsend) with water, Earth Balance, and Salt.  When it was done, I mixed in some more Earth Balance, salt, pepper, some finely chopped cilantro, and thinly sliced scallions – both the white and green parts.  I also grabbed some pepitos (green pumpkin seeds) from the pantry to add some crunch to it.

For the lentils, I began with a mirepoix, which is a mix of onions, carrots, and celery (I had some in my fridge).  I chopped them up very small, to kind of match the size of the lentils.  After sauteing in EVOO for a few minutes, I added some cumin and ancho chili powder and continued to stir for another minute.  I added the washed/rinsed/dried lentils, mixed them with the veggies, then deglazed with some champagne vinegar.  After cooking it out a bit, I added some water, salt, and pepper, and braised them.

Now for the veggies.  I wanted a good mix of colors on the plate.  Since I had some green in the quinoa, I thought the orange from the squash and the purple from some red onion would do the trick.  I peeled the raw squash, cut in half, scooped out the seeds, and then diced into bit size pieces.  Then I diced up some red onion, and crushed 3 cloves of garlic.  I mixed those all up on a roasting pan with EVOO, champagne vinegar, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and ancho chili powder.  I roasted it at 400 degrees (about 30ish minutes).

Let me tell you, I never had a quinoa dish that Nick went back for seconds.  But tonight, he went back for thirds.  This was the final product:

Luckily, I have a smidge more quinoa left for lunch tomorrow, and plenty of lentils for the side.  I’ll prob tear up some kale on the side and munch at my desk.

Until tomorrow, Buon Appetito !

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  1. Can you substitute couscous for quinoa? What is the difference between the two?

    • Yes, you can – although it will have a grittier texture. Quinoa is a pseudo grain; the part used to eat is the seed. Couscous is basically very small balls of pasta. It is made using semolina (wheat) flour, so it is actually a processed food, whereas quinoa is more of a whole grain. Quinoa is also gluten-free, so it’s a good choice for celiacs and for those trying to avoid wheat/gluten. For those who are vegan/vegetarian, it also also a natural plant source of complete protein (containing all essential amino acids).

  2. […] way home from work, I stopped by home to do some prep work before my appointment.   I chopped up all the veggies.  Peppers, onions, carrots, garlic, and dinosaur kale.  Kale is by far my FAVORITE leafy green.  […]

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