Thursday, March 7, 2013

Quinoa Salad

I have to let you all know about my progress.  I made a promise, a new years resolution of sorts, to eat vegetarian 6 days out of the week for one month.  I would like to let you know that we have now made it through the first week of March keeping this resolution!  Yeah us!  Or more like me since everyone else just eats what I make.  At first I have to tell you, it took some retraining on my part.  I really had think of how to make the meals filling and with enough protein to satisfy the needs of my growing children.  It was hard.  We ate a lot of vegetarian fajitas and mexican fare with no meat.  (This worked well for Patrick since he is in love with anything Mexican.)  I needed more so I started to get creative and I am finally feeling a love for this.  I am finding it easier to create meals and I really don't need to worry about defrosting anything ahead of time, which is AWESOME!  The only time we eat meat is if we eat out and order something with meat, or on Sundays.  Sundays my husbands family gets together for a big potluck family dinner.  His family includes Grandma, Parents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and siblings.  They are all big meat eaters so it is hard to avoid it on Sundays.  I always bring meatless but I do usually eat a bit.  Lucca and London always want something with meat and that is okay.  However, I am so proud of myself and this family for sticking to my resolution and going strong!

Pinterest is a great place to get inspiration for all things, including cooking.  I came across this Quinoa Superfood Salad by Iowa Girl Eats last week and thought it looked super yummy.  I went to the store and couldn't find pomegranates so I thought I would tweak it a bit.  Here is what I came up with last night.

Quinoa Salad

1 cup dry quinoa
1/2 cup lentils
1/8 cup red onion
1 avocado, diced
1 orange, peeled and diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cup corn
1 cup rinsed black beans
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Lemon Vinaigrette

1/4 cup lemon juice
6 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 clove of garlic, use a micro plane or finely dice

Cook the quinoa and lentils together.  I used about 1 1/2 cups of water and you might want to watch it to add a little more water if the lentils seem to hard.  Let cool.
Cut up everything else.

Assembly the vinaigrette.  Add the lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic to a small glass jar or bowl.  Either add the olive oil and put the lid on and shake it up or slowly add the oil to the bowl as you whisk.  This helps to emulsify the oil and the juice.  Either way works, I used a glass jar that I have a lid to and just shook it up.

I then added the quinoa and lentils to the cut up "extras".  I didn't use all the quinoa.  I was probably left over with 1/2 cup which I threw some on a salad today for lunch.    Mix it up and slowly add the vinaigrette.  Add a little bit at a time and then mix and taste.   I am glad I didn't add it all because it would have been way over powering to me if I had.  Bonus, I had some to put on the salad today!  Enjoy!!

Next time I will probably add less onions, as they aways tend to overpower and the kids didn't like the raw onions in the salad.  I liked the addition of lentils.  Lentils are a super super super food.  They have so much protein and a lot of iron and they are super cheap and easy to cook.  Quinoa as many of you know is also very high in protein.  This is definitely going to be a stable, especially over summer.  Patrick made the comment that it would be good as a sort of dip with chips.  Yumm.


Shredded Sauteed Zucchini

I am not always a big fan of zucchini.  I tolerate it most of the time.  I always grow it, or a yellow squash, every summer because it grows easily and it makes for good sides and additions to almost everything.  But this dish, I loved.  It had such a good taste and was pretty simple to make with a little thought and preparation ahead of time.

Shredded Sauteed Zucchini

5-6 zucchini
olive oil

About an hour ahead of dinner shred your zucchini, just the outer part, discard the seeds in the middle or save to use in a pasta sauce.  Place the zucchini in a colander and salt it.  Just sprinkle about a teaspoon or two over the zucchini and let sit.  This will help to pull the moisture out of the zucchini so they will brown up a bit more when cooking and won't be as soggy.  Let it sit for 15 minutes in the sink or over a bowl.  (The water that drips will be a vibrant green and if it weren't for the added salt would be really good in a smoothie or something.)  After 15 minutes place the zucchini in a towel and squeeze the zucchini shreds to get even more liquid out.  Put back into the colander and fluff it up a bit.

Heat your pan on medium high with a little olive oil.  Add the onion, maybe two tablespoons or so, and soften.  Add the salt and pepper and zucchini.  Sauté until golden brown.

Super easy and really delicious.  Lucca and London couldn't get enough of this.  We served it over rice with roasted carrots.  Yummy!