Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Meatless Monday! Lentils with Sauteed Veggies over Quinoa

There has been a lot of press about how eating less meat is better for your health as well as the earth.  Meatless Mondays are promoted as a way to reduce how much meat you eat on a regular basis, and as such every Monday I receive many emails about vegetarian cooking.
I do like to cook vegetarian dishes, but have not gotten into doing it with much consistency.  However, yesterday I wanted to cook mostly with ingredients I had on hand.  I also wanted to go only to the local store (which will remain nameless), and which does not have such a good selection for meats.  So, Meatless Monday it was!  It also helped that Corey was going out after work.  Whenever I cook a main dish without meat, he usually says it would taste better with chicken haha.
My inspiration for my dinner came from a dish I saw on the blog Liberty London Girl.  I made quite a few changes and additions, and was very happy with the results.  With 5 ingredients from the list of the 30 healthiest foods (see my previous post Healthy Ideas - 30 Healthiest Foods), this dish is packed with vitamins and protein, and low in carbs.
Here's how it looked-

Green lentils
Olive Oil
Red onion - diced
Garlic - chopped
Mushrooms - sliced (I used baby bellas)
Chicken or veggie broth, or water if needed
Spinach (I used baby spinach)
Salt & Pepper
Lemon juice

1. Cook the lentils (I had some precooked in the freezer).
2. Rinse and cook the quinoa - I used about 3/4C, added to 1 1/2C boiling water and simmered for 15 minutes.
3. In a large saute pan, heat 1T olive oil on medium.  Add 1/2 of a red onion, diced.  Cook for about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Add the sliced mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and cook for another 10 minutes.

It needed a little moisture while cooking, so I'll admit I added a little chicken broth here, but I think it still counts as meatless.  Remove to a bowl.
4. Add the spinach to the same pan and cook, covered, until wilted.  Stir while cooking to help the process.
Add the lentils (I used maybe 1C) and cook until heated.

Return the mushroom mixture to the pan, stir to combine, and cook for a few minutes.  Season with pepper.  Add the feta (I used about 3oz, diced) and stir in so it will start to melt.
5. Spoon quinoa onto a plate and make a well in the center.  Spoon the veggies over the quinoa.
6. In a small bowl, whisk together a little olive oil and lemon juice (I used about 2T each).  Drizzle a little over the vegetables.
I'll admit I did have some toasted naan with this, which did up the carbs, as you can see it the 1st photo.
The whole meal was delicious!

Do you observe Meatless Mondays?
What is your favorite meatless main dish?

Monday, April 18, 2011


This is what I made for dessert when Jen & Doug came for dinner, during her extremely brief stop at home between Bolivia and Guatemala.
It's a warm cookie bar with lots of gooey chocolate chunks.  I served it with vanilla gelato (store bought - Talenti Tahitian vanilla bean) and warm chocolate sauce (also store bought - Fudge Fatale Ultimate Chocolate Sauce).
I forgot to get a photo that night, so this is a smaller version from the following night.  I just had to have it again in order to get a photo ;-).
The recipe for the cookie bar is a secret.  If you want to try it, you'll have to come over.  Otherwise, I'm accepting orders.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How to Eat Sushi - Tips

Not that anyone is thinking about sushi this early in the morning (or maybe you are - kanpai to you), but here is a video with some tips on how to do it correctly.
Incidentally, Chow is a very useful source for recipes, commentary, and tips like this.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pan Seared Scallops with Quinoa and Grapefruit Salad

This is a meal I thought about making on Thursday night, since Corey was out to dinner with his coworkers.  However, I decided to be lazy, and got some frozen shrimp spring rolls from the freezer at Whole Foods, which I enjoyed with some chardonnay and a couple of chick flicks I knew I could never subject Corey to.
Finally, last night, I made it.  I love sea scallops, and haven't cooked them at home in a long, long time.  I made a quinoa and grapefruit salad to go with them, a recipe I saw on foodnetwork.com.   The recipe shows the salad with salmon, but it was delicious with the scallops.
There are several steps involved in making this salad - infusing the olive oil, segmenting the grapefruit, cooking the quinoa, etc.  It is certainly not something to make when you are short on time (or patience, so I was glad I didn't do it on Thursday).  It was perfect for me yesterday, since I was able to do most of it in the afternoon before Corey got home from work, so we could go for a walk before dinner, and finish it afterwards.
Here are the instructions for making the salad.  I made the whole recipe, so that I would have leftovers.

1 medium grapefruit
8 thin slices fresh ginger
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (I used champagne vinegar)
2 teaspoons honey
1 small serrano or jalapeno chile, minced (with seeds for maximum heat)
2 scallions (both white and green parts), minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Make the infused olive oil:
Strip the peel from the grapefruit with a vegetable peeler, taking care not to include the bitter white pith.  (This requires a very light hand.)

Warm the grapefruit peel, ginger, and olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Remove from the heat as soon as the oil starts to bubble.  Set the oil aside to steep for 30 minutes.  Strain and reserve the oil.  Discard the solids.
2. Cook the quinoa:
Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and drain.  Put the quinoa in a small saucepan with the water and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Boil over high heat, and then reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes.  Set aside off the heat, undisturbed, for 5 minutes.  Transfer the quinoa to a bowl and fluff with a fork.  Cool.
3. Prepare the grapefruit and juice:
Segment the grapefruit over a bowl, reserving the segments and juice separately. Squeeze the juice out of the membrane into the bowl with the juice.
Cut the peel and white pith away
Cut the flesh away from the membranes over a bowl
4. Prepare the dressing:
Whisk 3 tablespoons of the grapefruit juice with the vinegar, honey, and salt to taste in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in 3 tablespoons of the reserved grapefruit oil, starting with a few drops and then adding the rest in a stream to make a slightly thick dressing. Season with pepper to taste.
5. Mix the salad:
Add the dressing, chiles, scallions, and cilantro to the quinoa in the bowl and stir to combine.  Season with pepper.

These cook very quickly, so do this last.
1. Pat scallops dry and remove the foot muscle.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil and mix to coat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat.  (I again used 1 of our Calphalon anodized pans - great for searing and easy to clean.)
3. Add the scallops and cook until a nice brown crust is formed, about 2 minutes.  Turn and cook until browned on the other side, another 2 minutes.

Spoon some salad onto a plate, top with some grapefruit sections and the scallops, and enjoy!
This was delicious and healthy, with plenty of protein thanks to the quinoa.  I would have liked the salad to be a little spicier.  I scraped the seeds out of 1/2 of the jalapeno, so next time I might get a larger jalapeno, and would use all of the seeds.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Quick and Easy Marinade for Steak

Last night we decided to celebrate the weather with a nice, juicy grilled steak and vegetables.  We got a sirloin steak, and to dress it up a bit I used my go-to steak marinade.
3T low-sodium soy sauce
3T balsamic vinegar
3T real maple syrup
4 garlic cloves, chopped
I like to use my immersion blender for this.  In blender cup, add all ingredients. Blend on high until smooth.  Put steak into a large ziploc bag, and add marinade. Seal and leave on the counter (at room temp) for about 15 minutes or while you prepare everything else.
Remove steak from marinade, and grill as desired.
We had grilled asparagus and yellow squash with this.
Simple, quick and delicious!
What is your favorite marinade for steak?

Here's the link for the original recipe: