Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Twice is Nice for Black Rice ~ Black Rice & Quinoa Salad


I enjoyed Black Rice & Quinoa Salad so much, I made it twice last week: once for our family’s dinner and again over the weekend for the Missouri Mycological Society Winter Luncheon event. This potluck is attended by many mycophiles that also happen to be incredible epicureans, making this annual luncheon an all out food fest with unusual soups, side dishes and desserts- enough to make any foodie giddy. I thought this group would enjoy the black rice and quinoa dish, so that’s what I decided to bring.

The two main ingredients of this recipe (black rice and quinoa) are some of the healthiest ingredients you can find.  Black rice is a whole grain, rich in iron and fiber, vitamin E, zinc and copper. The rice is not actually black, but rather dark reddish purple. Its gorgeous hue comes from a plant substance called anthocyanin, a strong antioxidant also giving the dark red/blue/purple color to berries, red grapes, red onions, red cabbage and purple potatoes. When the black rice is mixed with the quinoa and other ingredients in this recipe, it imparts a gorgeous purplish color to the rest of the dish.  

Quinoa is quick and easy to prepare and super nutritious.  Quinoa is a whole grain (technically a seed), rich in protein, magnesium, manganese, folate, and riboflavin. There is a ton of research suggesting the nutrients in quinoa can be a factor in lowering risk for diabetes, heart disease, gallstones, asthma, breast cancer and migraines.

As an added bonus, this dish is vegan and gluten free so those with more restrictive diets can even enjoy it.

Black Rice & Quinoa (recipe adapted from Bon Appetit Nov 2011 issue)
½ cup black rice (if cannot find, sub in brown, white or even wild rice)
1 cup quinoa
2 bay leaves (Herbs in Route)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion minced (Yellow Wood Farms)
3 garlic cloves minced
2 tsp. ground cumin
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
¼ cup chopped cilantro and parsley
2 chopped scallions
salt & pepper 

1. In a saucepan, boil rice in 1 cup water; cover, reduce heat and cook about 25 minutes until liquid absorbed.
2. In a separate saucepan, heat dry quinoa for 1-2 minutes to toast. Add 2 cups water, bay leaves, and a pinch of salt to boil; cover, reduce heat and cook about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, let stand about 10 more minutes, discard bay leaves.
3. In a skillet, heat olive oil on medium; add chopped onion & garlic, sauté about 5 minutes. Add cumin, cook about 1 minute more.
4. Combine onion mixture with quinoa, add rice, lemon juice, a drizzle of additional olive oil. Mix in cilantro, parsley, and scallions. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cheer for Chorizo & Lentil Stew


If you are a fan of heat in your meals, you should really enjoy chorizo. This Spanish style sausage is so flavorful, putting a kicker to any dish where it is added. The lentils are the MVP ingredient in this stew, providing lots of fiber, folate, magnesium, iron and other important nutrients. Other team players include tomatoes, potatoes and carrots helping to temper the spiciness and add color.

Have I punted the football puns too far? Here’s one more: at the conclusion of our meal, my son comments, “Thanks so much, I loved it”…TOUCHDOWN MOM!!

Chorizo & Lentil Stew:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound chorizo sausage (Hinkebein Hills)
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups dried lentils
1 cup chopped carrots    
2 cups cubed Yukon gold potatoes (Yellow Wood Farms)
1 can drained, diced tomatoes (or fresh tomato if available)
salt to taste

      Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over low heat. Add chorizo and garlic; cook about 10 minutes, until chorizo is browned. Add water, lentils, carrots, potato and tomato; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until lentils are tender. Stir in salt.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Don’t judge a book by its cover: Sunchoke, Quinoa & Pea Pilaf


Sunchokes, A.K.A. Jerusalem Artichokes

Don’t be afraid of their looks. Sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes are not something you see, let alone eat everyday, but when available are worth trying. These gnarly knobby nuggets aren’t found in grocery markets, (at least where I shop) but are sometimes found at farmer’s markets and in CSA shares. This tuber vegetable resembles fresh ginger root but tastes similar to a potato-artichoke-water chestnut hybrid.  It is quite obvious that they grow underground with soil stuck in every nook and crevice, requiring a good rinse. Just like potatoes, the skin is edible, but you may choose to peel. 


Sunchoke, Quinoa & Pea Pilaf
Why eat this admittedly unattractive vegetable you ask? One reason is sunchokes are a great source of vitamin C, potassium, phosphorus and iron. They are also a great source of natural inulin (not to be confused with insulin), a non-digestible carbohydrate helping to keep our digestive tracts healthy. Inulin is added to many foods including protein shake powders, yogurts and pastas, to help keep us feeling full longer, increase mineral absorption, and since it has a low glycemic index can keep blood sugars in check.



Still not convinced sunchokes are worth trying (or maybe you cant find them)? Substituting potatoes would also work well in this recipe.

Sunchoke, Quinoa & Pea Pilaf
Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons oil
3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/2 cup chopped onion (Yellow Wood Farms)
1 cup vegetable broth
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 cup peeled, chopped sunchokes (Biver Farms)
1/2 cup peas, fresh or frozen
salt and pepper

Preparation:
Add quinoa and cook, until it pops, about 3 to 5 minutes. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring, until the onion is soft about 3 to 5 minutes more. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Add in chickpeas, sunchokes, and peas, return to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

So Granola ~ Easy Homemade Granola


I'd say I fit the “granola” stereotype pretty well...a nature loving health nut. I suppose then it is fitting that one of my favorite foods is granola, especially when it is homemade. Making granola fits well with my “kitchen sink” approach to cooking: a little bit of this, a little bit of that…mixing and matching whatever is on hand in the pantry. 

Granola is such a terrific food to help start the day and “break the fast” offering a perfect balance of complex carbohydrates, fat and protein. Although there are a few good commercial granola options, making granola from scratch allows one to customize the batch based on flavor preferences and to boost nutrition with a few bonus add-ins. If you like cinnamon a lot, great, add more. You love the taste of nutmeg? Super! Add some in. Not a fan of almonds, no problem, add a different nut…you get the picture.

The main ingredient for granola is of course the oats. I used organic rolled oats from Shirk’s Country Market, a Mennonite store located in Centertown Missouri.  This quaint market offers plenty of options in bulk for great prices, as well as nuts, candies, bakery and deli items. 

Granola also usually includes some type of sweetener.  Using natural sweeteners such as agave nectar, honey, molasses or pure maple syrup help boost the health properties. For this batch, I used a mix of all four since I had all of them available. Adding dried fruit to the mix will add sweetness as well. Again anything goes with dried fruit. This batch included goji berries, raisins, cranberries, dried blueberries and sour cherries. Other great options would include chopped dates, apricots, banana chips, papaya, etc.

Other star ingredients in granola include nuts, seeds, wheat germ and flax meal- all offering a powerful punch of really healthy fats. Use a combo of slivered almonds, chopped walnuts, pecans, cashews, pine nuts, macadamia, pistachios, etc. Seeds can include sesame, pepita, sunflower.  Tip: store nuts, seeds, wheat germ and flax meal in the refrigerator to help prevent the natural oils from turning rancid.

It does not take much time to prepare a big batch of granola that can be enjoyed for weeks to come.

Granola recipe:
5 cups rolled oats (Shirk's Coutry Market, Centertown, MO)
1 cup of any type of nuts (pecans came from Nevada, MO)
¼ to ½ cup any type seeds 
¼ cup of ground flaxseed and wheat germ
1 tsp of ground cinnamon (other spices such as nutmeg, cloves, pumkin pie spice, cardamom would work well too)
3 egg whites
1 tsp of salt
¾ cup of any type natural sweetener (honey from Hilty's Bee Yards, Bowling Green, MO)
1/3 cup oil
1 cup any type dried fruit 

1. Combine oats, nuts, seeds and flax, wheat germ and cinnamon in a large bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt until a froth forms, then mix in the oil and sweetener.
3. Combine the liquid mixture with the oat mixture and mix well.
4. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray; spread the mixture evenly on the baking sheet.
5. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes; stir then lower the temperature to 300 degrees and bake about 10 minutes more until nicely browned.  Allow to cool, add the dried fruit then dig in!
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