Browsing articles tagged with " Quinoa"

Zucchini Quinoa Cakes with Tzatziki Sauce

Zucchini Quinoa Cakes with Tzatziki Sauce

If I was being honest I would tell you that it’s been 1 year and 28 days since I last posted here.

Then I would confess how during that time I’ve made countless amazing meals and selfishly not shared them with you.

At some point I would admit that despite all the excuses floating around in my head, my absence boils down to pure laziness.

But we’re not going to do that. We’re not going to talk about what I’ve been doing for the last year, or how I let my own insecurities get in the way of a good thing, or how I am often my own worst enemy, or how I constantly compare myself to others and in my own mind always fall short. Let’s just not go there, okay?

Instead lets talk about these patties. Let’s talk about zucchini, chick peas, scallions and Tzatziki. Oh my god Tzatziki! Do you know about this tangy yogurt based sauce? I love this stuff so much that I want to slather it on everything. Seriously, what’s not to love about a creamy sauce filled with crunchy bits of cuke, tangy dill and a hint of garlic? In the traditional sense Tzatziki is a Greek sauce used on Gyros and falafels, but in my world it’s become my go to sauce for everything from chicken to lentils. It’s also super easy to make and tastes best the next day when all the flavors have melded into an explosion of tastiness.

My first time making homemade Tzatziki was as an accompaniment for some chicken gyros, and I instantly fell in love. After that I became obsessed and devised as many ways as possible to consume this awesome sauce. This week in my quest to use up last week’s farmers market purchases I decided to make some zucchini quinoa patties. Of course, my mind immediately thought of Tzatziki as a topping. These little cakes of deliciousness would be great tucked inside a pita pocket and drizzled with sauce, but due to a grocery store fail we were out of pitas, and instead ate them on a bed of lettuce. The verdict? Tzatziki + zucchini + quinoa = yum.

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Ginger-Lime Kale over Quinoa

If you’re anything like me it took you awhile to jump aboard the kale train. Normally I’m a sucker for anything green, and vegetables are no exception, but kale and I did not have a good start. The first time I ate kale was in a raw salad and it was so bitter that I had to discreetly hide a mouthful in my napkin under the table (don’t laugh- you’ve all been there). After that I was afraid to try it again and for years either substituted other veggies like spinach and broccoli for kale or avoided dishes that called for it all together. After that first experience I was determined kale would not pass though my lips again. Here’s the thing about kale though… it’s really good for you. I mean really good for you. It’s full of antioxidants, vitamins like A and C, has incredible anti-inflammatory properties, is known for lowering cholesterol, fighting cancer and one measly serving contains over 20% of your daily fiber needs. Wow! And all I have to do to reap those nutritional benefits is to choke down some of that tough bitter leafy green stuff. But wait…stop those negative thoughts. I am proud to say that this winter I put my fears aside and bravely tried kale again. Guess what? It was really good. In fact it was more than good, it was clean my plate and go for seconds good.


Turns out that cooked kale is not bitter or tough at all, just the opposite. So what happened, how did I go from kale hater to kale lover in just one dish? Let me set the scene for you. Let’s call it… The Great Kale Revival. About a month ago I ventured out to the grocery store list in hand. On that list were ingredients to make Linguine with Swiss Chard and Sausage. Much to my dismay the Swiss Chard at the store was a bit tired looking- actually really tired looking, so limp that when I picked it up the leaves drooped over like a cooked noodle- yuck. I hemmed and hawed for a bit considering  what I could use for a substitution. Just then a bunch of vibrant green leaves with curly edges caught my eye. I’m talking, of course, about kale. Could I do it? Would I do it? Before I could talk myself out if it the kale was in my cart, in my grocery bag, and in my fridge. That night I made the dish using kale instead of Swiss Chard. It was delicious. After only a few minutes of cooking the kale had yielded its bitterness and turned into a slightly sweet, slightly crunchy, absolutely wonderful green vegetable. TAW55718
Since then I’ve become borderline obsessed with kale. Just this week alone we’ve eaten it in scrambled eggs, pasta sauce and meatloaf. Yesterday afternoon my husband was unpacking the groceries that I brought home and said, “oh look, more kale” as he pulled out a new bunch and added it to the other two already in the fridge. We now have one entire drawer that is filled with nothing else but kale. What can I say- I’ve been converted, this is good stuff. I want to share my new found love of kale with you. Even those of you who, like I once did, think you don’t like kale. I am here tell you tell you, to implore you, to give it one more shot. And what better way to enjoy kale than with one of my favorite flavor combinations ever- ginger, garlic and lime.TAW55635
I’m convinced that you could add these three things to an old shoe and it would taste good. Seriously. There is something about this combo that I’m totally in love with. And since I’m also in love with kale right now…why not combine them? The idea for this recipe came from a wonderful magazine and website called Clean Eating. They follow a pretty simple philosophy over at Clean Eating: consume whole foods and prepare them close to their natural state. Sounds easy right? The dish that I created didn’t end up resembling the original inspiration dish very much (you can find it here if you’re interested) but I used the flavor combo as a jumping off point, and I definitely stayed true to the clean eating philosophy. So whether you’re on the fence about kale, a self-proclaimed kale lover,or like I used to be and convinced that kale is a no good,dirty rotten scoundrel – this dish is for you. TAW55745

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Quinoa Stuffed Squash

TAW81574-1Quinoa is a funny sort of grain. First of all, there’s the way it looks. It starts off pretty normal looking, kind of like chopped-up uncooked rice, but as it simmers away in the pot it begins to morph into tiny, semi-transparent ovals that are reminiscent of some sort of insect egg. I realize this description might not be the most appetizing, but I honestly can’t think of a better way to describe it. As it changes from a solid to an opaque the germ separates and leaves behind a thin spiral-like strand that wraps around the grain. The whole thing is very science fictiony, but the result is quite tasty. TAW71505-1Quinoa (by the way its pronounced keen-wah)  is best known for its exceptional nutritional qualities. Its claim to fame seems to be that it is considered a ‘complete protein’. Essentially this means that quinoa is both high in protein and contains all nine of the amino acids that humans need. This is pretty rare to find in a plant and helps explain why, along with corn and potatoes, it was considered one of the three staple foods of the Inca civilization. That is until the 15th and 16th centuries when the Spanish began to conquer, um..I mean colonize, South America and they banished the cultivation of quinoa for a time due to its use in non-Christian religious ceremonies. Luckily these days quinoa cultivation is alive and well in countries such as Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. There is even a farm in the mountains of Colorado that has been growing quinoa since 1987. Check out these links to read more about this fascinating and wildly successful experiment.

The other strange thing about quinoa is that while its often placed in the same category as rice and other grains, it is not actually a grain. Instead it is actually a relative of some leafy green vegetables and is closely related to plants such as beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds? Tumbleweeds!

I could keep feeding you interesting tidbits about this super healthy, non-grain grain all day, but I suppose before you all stop reading and refuse to ever come back here again I should get to the recipe. TAW71467TAW71466
Stuffed squash is really a pretty basic dish. Generally you cook up a mixture of rice and veggies, stuff it in a hollowed out squash, throw it in the oven, and bamm…you have stuffed squash. In this recipe, the biggest variation from what I just outlined above is that the squash is partially cooked beforehand in the microwave (thank you Cooking Light for this excellent idea). This accomplishes two things. First it cuts the baking time down by more than half, and second because the baking time is shorter it allows the grain, or in this case the quinoa, to retain some of its nutty texture instead of turning to mush while it hangs out in the oven for an hour waiting for the squash to cook. For this recipe I used the beautiful Amber Cup squash pictured above. You could use a variety of different squashes in the is dish. Golden Nugget, Acorn, Buttercup, Autumn Cup, Carnival, Turban. Basically any winter squash with a shape that allows you to hollow it out and stuff it will work just fine. TAW71521-1

These are some of the goodies I put in the squash. The original recipe only called for onion, garlic, and sausage, but I decided to throw in some carrots, fresh Italian parsley and a portabella mushroom for extra flavor and texture. This last minute addition was so tasty that I am pretty sure I will be making a vegetarian version with just the portabellas in the near future. If you decide to go this route I would suggest using at least three mushrooms to replace the 8-ounces of sausage. On the subject of sausage, any kind will do but I used Al Fresco brand Chicken Apple sausage with Vermont Maple syrup- wow! That’s good stuff. TAW71549
Here is the squash stuffed and ready to bake- Yummm!TAW71559-1

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