Category Archives: Quinoa

Lunch anyone? Cauliflower rice with quinoa & green goodness sauce..

 My Instagram account is littered with photos of the various meals I make for my lunch, which is what this lovely plateful of food was. I don’t eat sandwiches, or anything bread based that might typically be considered ‘lunch’ food, hence why my lunches might seem quite colourful; as with everything I eat, I make myself healthy, tasty lunches, packed full of flavour and spices and goodness, and this was no different..

I hadn’t made any ‘cauliflower rice’ for a while so this was a bit of a change, thrown together with some cooked quinoa and some of my favourites green goodness sauce, it was a plate of fabulous…served on a fabulous plate

Cauliflower rice is made by chopping fresh cauliflower into florets, then chopping the florets up in a blender until the cauliflower resembles ‘rice’. You end up having to keep taking the lid off the blender and scraping the sides done to achieve this, plus it’s best not to overfill the blender and to do it in batches. 

If you end up with far more ‘rice’ than you wanted, as the cauliflower does break down to a huge pile of ‘rice’, you can store it in a sealed container in the fridge for a couple of days.

I then tend to fry my cauliflower rice in a wide bottom pan with some coconut oil and any chosen garlic and/or spices. This time I added the cooked quinoa because I had some to use up and it added protein to the dish. 

Eaten with the sauce – which is packed full of coriander, garlic, gingers, spices, tamarind and (on this occasion) coconut milk – it was a healthy, tasty, lovely lunch. 

And I even licked the plate! 

I’ve made cauliflower rice before with turmeric, coconut and black garlic, and on the same week as I made this, Judy also experimented with cauliflower rice – these may just give you some other ideas for yours. 

Enjoy!

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Saag with quinoa and coriander chutney..

 Welcome to Friday and to this week’s Fiesta Friday – please read this week’s post, join the party and put your name down to co host, just like Margy and Su are this week ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

For me, I am bringing along one of my lovely lunches from this week, a dish that also provided two more meals on the following days – and only got better each day. I do love leftovers, I love how the flavours develop as time goes on and I love throwing a selection of things together.  

This is based on Whitney’s saag recipe, an Indian dish packed with spinach, kale, garlic, ginger and spices, and I added yoghurt instead of cream. Once all made, I added some cooked quinoa and additional water to create a this protein packed dish, full of goodness..

I also added a coriander chutney to eat with it, I always like an added dip/sauce of some kind.. 

  The chutney is a blend of..

Fresh coriander, stalks and leaves 

Garlic

Fresh ginger

Green chillies 

Ground cumin

Salt 

Plain Greek yoghurt

This also lasted well and went with lots of other things I ate this week. 

How good does that look?? Who says eating healthy, tasty, vegetarian food has to be boring? Not in this house ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

Can I say it….I love my own food!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ 

I must tell you about the quinoa that I have been using recently, its from a company called Hodmedods who farm British grown quinoa. It’s a lovely product, it’s has a great flavour and cooks well with my method. And all of the spices and the ‘dubba’ spice tin is from the lovely Spice Kitchen UK. (I am not being paid to tell you about these products, I just like sharing.)

Have a great weekend x 

Cooking spelt successfully..my way..

 Following on from my previous post about cooking grains successfully, I can now confirm that my method also works for the ancient grain spelt. 

Spelt, sometimes, but not always, called farro (Google will explain that one!), is really tasty, quite nutty, and the grains are bigger than quinoa or freekeh and give you something to get your teeth into. Use it just like you would any other grain; eat it hot or cold; make it the king of a dish or part of a side dish. 

I now use this method for every grain I cook, and it works every time, even with basmati rice ๐Ÿ™‚

Enjoy! Happy Tuesday x

How to feed a vegetarian dinner guest..

This time of year, I see a lot of articles and posts talking about what to feed a vegetarian guest should you find one sat at your Christmas dinner table; I always find it interesting to see what suggestions are proffered and I’m afraid, I very rarely agree. So often the solutions offered are pasta dishes smothered in some sort of cheese sauce, or something wrapped in pastry…basically, heavy dishes that, quite frankly, I wouldn’t eat.  Where are the beautifully cooked vegetables in all their glory?? 

  
So, I thought I would give my view point, being as I am, the ‘vegetarian guest’.. 

It’s funny because in my world, I’m one of many; I share my virtual world with many vegetarians & vegans, and in my real world my two best friends are also vegetarian – it wasn’t a prerequisite of our friendship or anything, it just happened that way; just shows that like minded people are drawn to each other doesn’t it? But if I find myself amongst family or a wider circle of friends, then I’m the alien (throw into the mix that I prefer low or no gluten, I don’t eat any sugar or sweet things, AND I don’t drink alcohol, and I really am an island…but that’s just me, that’s not all vegetarians) but I’m really not an alien, and I’m a lot easier to feed than you’d think..

So what would you think of feeding me if I came to your house? (Let’s pretend for a moment that I don’t have a blog full of ideas…!) Would you be completely stumped? Or drive yourself crazy with worry about the dish for this one person? Or just assume I must want to eat nut loaf?? (I don’t, by the way.)

Stop. It’s easier than you think. 

Do you mind if I offer some suggestions? 

My top tip would be: 

Don’t make your life difficult! Especially if you’re making food for lots of people, don’t let the addition of a different eater at your table cause you stress. 

And don’t make assumptions: I am labelled ‘vegetarian’ by most people in that I don’t eat any meat or fish, but I do eat cheese and eggs. Not all vegetarians are the same. Best to double check with them. 

So…make life easy…

First, tell me what you’re already planning to cook..for example..last year we visited my brother & sister in law over Christmas; my sister in law Tina is a great cook and she cooked a huge roast dinner for 7 of us; knowing how much she’d already have to do, I asked if she’d like me to bring a dish for myself? She very happily accepted the offer with great relief as she had been concerned about it, and I made a small sweet potato casserole which I took with me to heat up in her oven. 

When dinner was served there was about 10 different dishes of vegetables – I really didn’t need my dish too. I would have been quite happy with a plate piled high with lovely veg, and I’d have grabbed some of the nuts and seeds she had in the cupboard and sprinkled them over the top and been very happy. Whenever I cook a roast dinner at home, I just make sure there’s lots of vegetables with it and I eat them with some homous or any dips I’ve made, like the squash below, or with some grains I’ve got leftover from during the week. It’s that easy!  

 
Butternut squash, beetroot and quinoa 

The only notes I would make here are…consider your gravy, you may need to make a vegetarian version if your guest is a gravy lover (I’m not!); and if you roast your potatoes in goose fat, it’s only fair to to let your vegetarian guest know. Or maybe on this occasion, use a non animal fat to roast your potatoes in? 

The moral of this story is..consider what you’re already making and whether you’ve actually already got an answer in your menu. You may already have a perfect solution…can you make something ahead, like these marinated vegetables, or these, that will just need flinging in the oven in the day? 

Are you doing a dish with meat that you could produce a small amount of it without meat? Could you plan it that way? Make two versions of the same chilli or casserole/tagine for example? 

Or, make a vegetable based soup and offer a platter  antipasti, cruditรฉs, bread etc along with it and allow everyone to choose what they want. 

Salads are a godsend; especially warm salads (like the one below) in the cold temperatures; buffets are even better – let your guests choose; and side dishes are often the answer – I’ve often ordered just a selection of side dishes at a restaurant. 

  Tagine

A cordon bleu creation really isn’t necessary. For me, the aim would be to ensure that that guest is made welcome and not made to feel like they are the alien at the table. I can tell you that it isn’t a pleasant feeling.

So, why not just ask me what I’d like? As one of my vegetarian friends said: “I think you’re right, people rarely ‘ask’ what you like to eat, so you can end up with a Supermarket version of what a veggie [supposedly] likes to eat, which, can often be wrapped up in a huge parcel of stodge, ie, pastry. Why do they do that?!” Yes, why do they?? For me it just shows lack of imagination.

Although…if you do fancy offering a pie or flan of some sort that everyone might fancy a bit of, how about making it a healthy, tasty option like this beetroot galette with a lovely light gluten free crust..

 Or make life really easy, and let me bring a dish. I wouldn’t be offended at all. I’d rather not give a hostess added worry and I’d definitely prefer not to be presented with a dish that I’d rather not eat and then feel rude. And I’d really hate to cause any stress or extra work! So let me help. 

Of course, I am a blogger with a list of recipe ideas so I do have a list of suggestions on this here blog in case they be of use, including a Christmas feast I made for guests last year and all of my Pimp Your Veg ideas, plus lots of healthy, vegetarian snack and Christmas cake ideas, but I’m also available if I can be of help.  

 I hope this has been of some help to you and my friends at Fiesta Friday, com hosted this week by lovely Liz and Johanne. Enjoy! 

NOTE: many of these recipes and suggestions would satisfy vegan diets and/or ideas for guests with various food intolerances. 

Disclaimer: these are only my views, not all vegetarians are the same! All the more reason to ask ๐Ÿ™‚ 

A vegetarian ‘mujaddrah’ inspired lentil & quinoa dish..

 “Mujaddrah” is a typical Lebanese dish made with lentils and rice and topped with caremalised onions. It’s something I’ve wanted to make for a while, but as I started to do so, mine evolved into something else with more ingredients in it…I’ve read several versions of the recipes, some with spices and some without, and I used these various recipes as my inspiration, as well as my own ideas for pimping it, when I made this dish, which turned out really tasty, although not that colourful to photograph! 

  Ingredients 

250g green lentils, washed, soaked overnight and cooked as per instructions on the pack 

100g quinoa, uncooked

3 red onions, thinly sliced

2 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped

2 medium aubergines, cubed

2tbsp olive oil plus more to drizzle over aubergine 

1tsp cumin seeds

1tsp ground cumin

1tsp ground coriander

1/4tsp cayenne pepper

1tsp ras el hanout

Salt to taste

Water as needed

Lemon juice to serve 

 Method 

Heat the oven to 200C, drizzle a little olive oil over the chopped up aubergine and roast for 25-30 minutes until nicely cooked through, then take out and keep to one side until you need them 

Heat oil in a wide pan over a medium heat and add the cumin seeds

Cook on their own for a brief time until the pub start to sizzle then add the sliced onions 

Cooked them over the medium heat for 10-15 minutes until they start to caremalise and get all lovely 

(If you were making Mujaddrah this is when you would remove some of the onions from the pan to save for later to garnish the dish but I forgot to do that for my dish!)

Add the garlic after about 10 minutes and give it a chance to cook without getting burnt 

Add the roasted aubergine cubes and all of the spices and stir them all through 

Cook together for 2-3 minutes

Add then lentils and again stir through and cook together for a few minutes but don’t let lentils break down

Add the quinoa, stir it in and add 100ml water – you may feel that you want to add a bit more, but don’t overdo it – I used my quinoa cooking method here which is 1:1 ratio of uncooked quinoa:water plus there will be moisture in the pan from the vegetables and this is a good way of soaking some of that up 

Bring the pan to the boil and turn down the heat and simmer for 5-6 minutes

Turn off heat, and leave with lid on and allow the steam to finish cooking quinoa

And serve!

I ate mine with a handful of cashews that I’d roasted myself. I also enjoyed it again the next day by heating a portion in a frying pan with some olive oil and added some nuts in at the same time. 
  
Happy Weekend! I hope the partygoers at Fiesta Friday like my dish ๐Ÿ™‚ 

Cooking grains successfully every time..

 I regularly eat bowls of grains topped and mixed with various vegetables, seeds, cheeses and/or dips and sauces. Grains replace rice or pasta for me. These provide my lunches and dinners and even sometimes, my breakfast ๐Ÿ™‚ 

My favourite grain is quinoa, I like the flavour and it provides a source of protein in my vegetarian diet, but I also like to try different grains for their flavour and nutrients. 

In these dishes, I want my grains to be perfectly cooked, which is what this post is dedicated to…read on…

 I’ve talked about this before in my post about not cooking quinoa as it says on the pack – and I really really mean it: my experience has been that if you go by the packet instructions and cook quinoa in all that water for all that time it has only ever produced mushy, often bitter tasting, quinoa for me. 

I want perfectly cooked quinoa grains that are not stuck together and that have that slightly nutty flavour that they’re meant to and this method works for me every time…

Ingredients 

1 full cup of dried quinoa

1 full cup of cool water

NOTE: my ‘cup’ is a small mug, it doesn’t have to be a measuring cup; basically, it’s equal volumes of grains and water. Whatever you use to measure out the grains, use the same for the water. My mug full of grains makes enough cooked quinoa to last several meals. 

Method

Put the quinoa and water into a pan and heat on your hob/stove.

Bring the water to the boil and turn the heat down to simmer so that you keep the water bubbling.

Boil/simmer for 6 minutes ONLY.

(Don’t worry if it looks like it’s boiling dry, just give it a stir, it will be fine) 

After 6 minutes, turn the heat off and put a lid on the pan. The steam inside the pan will do the rest of the cooking.

Leave it to sit for 15-20 minutes then remove the lid and fork the quinoa to separate the grains.

Eat warm or place in a  bowl to allow to cool for cold recipes.

Keep it covered in the fridge for up to a week. 

And that’s it! 

It works every time for me with standard white quinoa. It has also worked with red quinoa, but I haven’t tried black quinoa, I think it tends to need further cooking. 

I’ve now gone on to experiment with other grains. With standard cooking instructions I found that buckwheat groats (above) are easy to overcook and turn to a sticky mush. With my method, it came out so much better; again, nice separate grains and a great favour.

Again: 1 cup of buckwheat groats + 1 cup of water and method as above.

And then to freekeh. 

Freekeh is a very young green wheat which has been eaten for centuries in the Middle East but is now finding fame in western countries. It’s a really tasty grain, but unlike the quinoa and buckwheat above, this is not a gluten free grain. For me, I find it is still gentle on my stomach though.

For freekeh, the ‘method’ still works it just benefits from a little bit more water:

1 full cup of uncooked freekeh

1 & 1/4 cup of cool water

Follow the method as above but leave the lid on for more like half an hour after simmering. 

Then fork up your freekeh and eat it in any way you fancy ๐Ÿ™‚ 

Enjoy! 

I have numerous examples of my bowls of grains on my Instagram feed if you’d like some ideas, as well as many and various ideas here on the blog. 

I will be continuing my experiments with rice and other grains very soon…x


My dukkah with a difference..

  
Dukkah is typically a mixture of roasted nuts, seeds and spices, all chopped to a tasty crunchy crumb mixture. It is very often mixed with olive oil and bread is dipped into it. It is documented as being Egyptian, and a version features in pretty much every Middle Eastern cookbook I own. There are often slight differences between the choices of nuts used, or the addition of roasted chickpeas, or not…like with all recipes, everyone creates their own version.

I’ve blogged about and made it before, and many times since in various guises, and I’ve been known to eat it unadulterated with a spoon from the jar, or thrown it over salads or vegetables, or included it in dips and marinades; it adds a crunch to all sorts of dishes, as well as great flavour.

I recently made it again with a twist..the addition of roasted hemp seeds for some extra flavour and goodness..
  

This dukkah is a mixture of..

Roasted chickpeas

Roasted hemp seeds

Roasted sesame seeds

Roasted hazelnuts

Roasted coriander seeds

Roasted cumin seeds 

 

Each of the ingredients need to be spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roasted in an oven at 180-200C. 

You need to watch them, as they all take different times to roast, and to ensure that they don’t burn or overcook as they will become bitter and ruin the mixture. 

Let them cool and them chop them all together to a crumb texture in a food blender. 

Then use at will!

  
Today mine became part of a salad with quinoa, grated carrot and courgette, lemon juice and olive oil. Big yum!!!! 

Better late than never..I’m taking this along to this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by lovely ladies, Sarah and Kaila, and hope that everyone will enjoy the freshness of this salad ๐Ÿ™‚