Spicy Summer Tex-Mex Quinoa Salad

September 30, 2015

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Wow! Last Wednesday was the first day of Fall and apparently for once the weather in the good old State of Virginia agrees with the calendar. Temperatures around here have been just glorious. The humidity has chilled out and the days are warm but the nights are just starting to get a bit of chill to them. I for one could not be happier, though it did seem a bit sudden. Usually summer lingers on around here for quite some time. I won’t say anything more about it though because I don’t want to speak too soon and “word” it. (Yup…I sure did word it. I wrote the last sentence about the great Fall weather over the weekend. On Monday the temperature crept back up to 80°, and was accompanied by remarkable Virginia swamp-like humidity. I knew it was too good to be true!)  I’ll just say, here’s one more great summer recipe which should carry over nicely into Fall…Spicy Summer Tex-Mex Quinoa Salad.

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This salad can be served room temperature or even chilled if the mercury starts to creep up again. And it has a bit of a spicy kick to warm you up a bit if the chillier temperatures persist. If you have any leftover Spicy Grilled Corn from those Zucchini, Spicy Grilled Corn & Cheese Pancakes that I told you about a couple of weeks ago, this is a great way to put it to good use! The husband and I usually enjoy this dish on Meatless Mondays, and I serve it over a bed of lettuce. It gives it a taco salad-y kind of vibe. Another option, if you were feeling a bit more carnivorous, would be to add in some spicy chicken or grilled steak. And although we love it as a main dish, it would also be great as a side next to a big old burrito, taco or enchilada. So there you have it… all the healthful benefits of quinoa and all the fresh spicy tastes of summer. What a winner!

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Spicy Summer Tex-Mex Quinoa Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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recipe adapted from: Once Upon a Chef

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup pre-washed quinoa (if not washed, follow package instructions for rinsing)
  • 1-2/3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or 1 cup chopped tomatoes, from 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1-1/4 cups Spicy Grilled Corn – recipe to follow (can use canned corn if you don’t have fresh)
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, finely sliced
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, from 1 large lime
  • 1 avocado, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • Cotija cheese, crumbled
  • shredded iceberg lettuce (to serve Quinoa Salad over – if you desire)

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minutes or so. Add the spices to the onion/garlic mixture and stir to combine

Add the quinoa to the onion/spice mixture and continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Cover the pan tightly with a lid, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 17-20 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is cooked. Transfer the cooked quinoa to a mixing bowl and chill in the refrigerator.

When the quinoa is cool, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, tomatoes, Spicy Grilled Corn, black beans, scallions, jalapeno, cilantro, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and lime juice. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Right before serving, scatter the avocado chunks and Cotija Cheese over top.

Spicy Grilled Corn

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 ears of fresh corn in husk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp chili powder

Directions:

Combine olive oil, lime juice, garlic, salt, brown sugar and chili powder in small bowl and whisk together.
Preheat grill.
Peel back the corn husks, discarding all but a couple inner layers. Remove corn silk, then baste with dressing, and recover corn with remaining husk.
Grill on med-high for 20-25 minutes, turning 3-4 times during cooking time.
Remove the corn from grill and allow to cool a few minutes. Once it has cooled enough to handle, cut off stem end, place the flat cut end on bottom of large bowl, and use a corn zipper to strip the kernels from the cob. Or if you don’t have a zipper, run a small sharp knife down the length of the cob, slicing off kernels.

Enjoy!

Spicy Summer Tex-Mex Quinoa Salad brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 

 


Southwestern Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

August 26, 2014

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Wow! I am on a roll this summer with the Meatless Monday recipes! Yup…you guessed it…here’s another one. Southwestern Quinoa Stuffed Peppers. Fresh bell peppers (I used red, yellow and orange peppers, being horribly prejudiced against the green ones. I swear they taste different -and not in a good way- from their orange, red and yellow cousins) stuffed with a mixture of quinoa, black beans, spicy grilled corn, green chilis, tomatoes, fresh cilantro and lots of ooey-gooey mexican blend cheeses. No meat in sight, but plenty of spicy fresh flavour!

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This recipe has got all of the things I’ve been obsessed with this summer, quinoa, grilled corn, and fresh veggies. I’m still completely smitten with quinoa. If you’ve been following along with me, you’ve already seen me blog a couple of truly tasty quinoa recipes here in the recent past, like the Caprese Quinoa Bake and the Thyme Mushroom Quinoa Risotto, and I’m sure there will be more to come. It’s not often that you can find something that tastes great and is also really good for you, being protein packed, high in fiber, phosphorus and magnesium, a good source of calcium and having high levels of antioxidants and omega 3’s. Not to mention, it’s gluten-free for all of you gluten intolerants out there.What a fantastic meal! And with no meat, it fits the vegetarian bill as well. But you hard-core carnivores shouldn’t despair, you could just add a bit of ground turkey/ground beef or if you really wanted to keep that Mexican vibe and add even more of a kicked up spicy flavour you could add in some chorizo sausage.

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As good as that chorizo sounds, I think I’m going to stick to the meat free version. I’ve told you about the points I think I am somehow awarded (surely someone is keeping score…) for every meatless meal and these little pepper gems are so yummy, the meat is just not necessary. I tell you, the husband and I love these Southwestern Quinoa Stuffed Peppers just the way they are… Zesty, spicy, hearty AND healthy! You just can’t go wrong!

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Southwestern Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

  • Servings: 3 - 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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recipe adapted from: Barbells & Bellinis

Ingredients:

  • 6 bell peppers (I used assorted)
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes 
  • 1 14 ounce can black beans, drained 
  • 1 cup of quinoa, cooked per directions
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups fresh spicy grilled corn, recipe below (can use frozen or canned corn if you must)
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 4 oz. diced green chilis
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of chili powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder)
  • 3 teaspoons of cilantro
  • 1 teaspoons of salt 
  • 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like your food)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil 
  • 1/2 to 1 pound of  mexican blend, or pepper jack cheese (whatever ‘ya got around) shredded
  • Even move Cilantro for garnish
  • Crumbled Cotija Cheese,  fresh sliced avocado and sour cream for serving

Directions:

Cut tops off of the bell peppers and remove seeds and membranes.  Heat a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat.  Add olive oil and onions.  After onions cook for about 5 minutes or until they soften.  Add cumin, chili powder, garlic, cilantro, salt and red pepper and cook until beef is browned, about 5 minutes.  Stir in quinoa, diced tomatoes, diced green chilis, grilled corn and black beans, cooking for another 3 minutes.   Turn stove off.  Stuff peppers with the quinoa mixture and place in a casserole dish or dutch oven (I used one of my favourite Le Creuset pans).  Top with shredded cheese.  Cover with foil and bake at 375º F for 40 minutes.  Remove foil in last 10 minutes of cooking.  Top with cilantro and crumbled Cotija cheese. Serve along with fresh slices of avocado and sour cream.

******Carnivore Alert: If you just can’t bear the thought of a meatless meal, (hey…no judgement here…) add 1 lb. of ground turkey or beef into the pan after you cook the onions and proceed with the directions as written above.

Spicy Grilled Corn

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 ears of fresh corn in husk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp chili powder

Directions:

Combine olive oil, lime juice, garlic, salt, brown sugar and chili powder in small bowl and whisk together.
Preheat grill.
Peel back the corn husks, discarding all but a couple inner layers. Remove corn silk, then baste with dressing, and recover corn with remaining husk.
Grill on med-high for 20-25 minutes, turning 3-4 times during cooking time.
Remove the corn from grill and allow to cool a few minutes. Once it has cooled enough to handle, cut off stem end, place the flat cut end on bottom of large bowl, and use a corn zipper to strip the kernels from the cob. Or if you don’t have a zipper, run a small sharp knife down the length of the cob, slicing off kernels.

Enjoy!

Southwestern Quinoa Stuffed Peppers brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )


Thyme Mushroom Quinoa Risotto

August 12, 2014

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I believe that this Thyme Mushroom Quinoa Risotto is somewhat magical. Why? Well for starters you’ve got those wonderful earthy thyme sauteed mushrooms. Mushrooms are known to be magical right? What is that you say…I’m thinking of a different varietal of mushroom perhaps? Ooops! Well the magic of these mushroom is in their savoury taste, not so much in their pharmacological effect. I love mushrooms and am happy to report that the husband now shares my love for them.

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You know he didn’t when we first got married. He announced that mushrooms were slimy and he hated them. I was horrified. Turns out he had only come into contact with mushrooms right out of a tin, which were, in all honesty, a bit slimy. Once he got a taste of fresh mushrooms, he started singing a different tune. But mushrooms aren’t the only bewitching thing about this dish. There is the fresh, peppery crunch of the arugula (rocket) leaves which provides great contrast to the creamy parmesan-y quinoa base. And the risotto? Well, it has done a bit of a disappearing act here. The truth is that there isn’t any risotto, quinoa, prepared as if you were making risotto has taken its place. And as much as I love a big old creamy comforting bowl of risotto, I didn’t miss it one bit. The quinoa was a great alternative and really served to lighten the dish up to make it a superb summer salad.

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I did warn you back when I blogged about that delicious Caprese Quinoa Bake that you might be seeing some more recipes from me that use quinoa. I tell you I’m still smitten with the stuff! Not only does it have a light and nutty taste as well as a great toothsome texture, but it is also really good for you. Chock full of protein, fiber, antioxidants and omega 3’s. And it is gluten-free for your folks out there who are gluten adverse. (me , not so much. I am way into glutens and luckily my body seems to be just fine with that path…) Knowing all of that, who could resist it?! I whipped this dish up for a Meatless Monday meal (for other wonderful vegetarian dishes make sure to check out the Delicious Everyday Blog – all vegetarian all the time) and couldn’t have been happier with it. Easy to prepare, tasty and vegetarian. (The husband and I feel that we get extra points for every meatless dish we’re able to work into the weekly menus. Who is keeping track of these points and what they’ll actually get us hasn’t quite been revealed yet…) Comfort food which is good for you. Now that truly is magical. Enchant your family with a big helping of Thyme Mushroom Quinoa Risotto tonight.

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Thyme Mushroom Quinoa Risotto

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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recipe from: Delicious Everyday

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 – 5 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1½ cups white quinoa, rinsed under running water for 2 minutes
  • ⅓ cup white wine (optional…perhaps thought so by some…me? thinking it essential!)
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 350g (12 oz) mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil, extra
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • ¾ cup Arugula leaves (rocket)

Directions:

Place a medium saucepan over a high heat and add the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low.

Place a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the olive oil and add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the quinoa and coat in the oil, onion and garlic mixture and cook for a couple of minutes or until the quinoa starts to turn translucent. Add the wine (if using – come on…you know you want to…) and cook until it’s absorbed. Add the stock, a ladle at a time, and cook until absorbed before adding another ladleful, stirring as you go. Once the quinoa is tender remove the saucepan from the heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Keep warm while you saute the mushrooms.

Place a large frying pan over a high heat. Once the pan has come to heat add half the oil and half the mushrooms in a single layer in the pan. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes before turning the mushrooms over and cooking for a further minute. Remove the mushrooms and place on a plate and repeat with the remaining oil and mushrooms. Finally add the first batch of mushrooms to the pan and add the thyme leaves and cook for 1 minute.

Divide the risotto between 4 bowls or plates and top with the rocket (arugula) and mushrooms and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Recipe brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )

 

 

 


Caprese Quinoa Bake

July 15, 2014

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Swampy summer is in full swing here in Virginia. Some folks were talking about a polar vortex showing up to cool things off a bit, but it must have taken a detour because it definitely has not whirled itself anywhere near here yet! It is Oppressive out there! I think my friend’s little girl described it best when she stepped outside and said “Feels like dog breath in my face.” Yup. That is pretty much it. So big heavy meals aren’t particularly appealing to me now. Light and fresh is what is called for and I think I’ve found just the thing. This Caprese Quinoa Bake with its roasted cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil and balsamic vinegar drizzle practically screams summer. The good things about summer that is…not the dog breath things. I must admit, I’m a new comer to Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah). Sure I’ve seen it around and heard folks raving about it and could see it was quite the fad. But I was afraid it might be like kale (I. Hate. Kale.). You know, supposedly really good for you,but something you had to literally had to choke down, like cod liver oil. I avoided it and figured if I waited long enough, it would disappear from the group consciousness. But feeling a bit adventurous one day and desperately trying to find a new recipe for Meatless Monday, I decided to give it a go and I was quite pleasantly surprized by its fluffy texture and light and nutty taste. I really like it. Like I might like it more than rice. And come to find out, it not only tastes great but it is also really good for you. It has been grown in the Andes region as far back as 3,000 – 4,000 years ago. Technically it is not a grain, but a seed and is a closely related to spinach. This super food is gluten-free and protein packed, high in fiber, phosphorus and magnesium, a good source of calcium and has high levels of antioxidants and omega 3’s. Yay Quinoa! It is very easy to prepare and quite adaptable to a variety of dishes (quite a few more of which will be showing up here soon…what can I say? I’m smitten!) One thing you do want to remember is to rinse it before cooking. Quinoa naturally has a bitter coating on it. Most brands you purchase in the stores claim to be pre-washed, but just to be sure, place it in a fine mesh strainer and give it a 30 second shower before cooking.

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I can tell you not only will this dish be in high rotation this summer, but with all of it’s sweet, savoury fresh flavours, I think it will make it into the cooler months as well. It was a very satisfying meatless Monday main dish, would be equally brilliant as a side dish or if you found yourself catering for some serious carnivores it would also be quite tasty with the addition of some italian sausage or pancetta. (You definitely want to stay on the good side of those carnivores in my opinion. And it’s a bad idea to let them go hungry!) So don’t fear the Quinoa, embrace it. I’ve totally drank the kool aid and I’m not looking back!

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Caprese Quinoa Bake

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Domesticate Me

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups petite Roma or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 2 small shallots, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup packed basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces fresh part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated (about 1 cup of grated cheese)
  • 8 ounces fresh part-skim mozzarella cheese, sliced into 1/4–inch rounds
  • 2 beefsteak tomatoes, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar

Ingredients:

Pre-heat your oven to 400°F.
In a small pot, bring the quinoa and 1¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons water to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes until all of the water has been absorbed. Let the quinoa rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
While the quinoa is cooking, place the halved tomatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and fresh ground pepper. Transfer to the oven and roast for 10 minutes until they’re tender and the skins have started to burst.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. When hot, add the minced shallots and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the shallots have become translucent and the garlic is fragrant.
In a large bowl combine the quinoa, roasted tomatoes, cooked shallots and garlic, and basil. Stir in the grated mozzarella and season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
Transfer the quinoa mixture to a large skillet and smooth the top. (A round, square or rectangular baking dish is also just fine.)
Starting in the center, overlap slices of tomatoes and mozzarella in a small circle. Make a second circle of overlapping tomatoes and mozzarella, covering the surface of the quinoa. (If you’re using a square or rectangular dish, just make two lines of overlapping tomatoes and mozzarella and call it a day.)
Cover the skillet loosely with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and lightly browned.
While your quinoa bake is in the oven, place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for 3-5 minutes until the vinegar becomes syrupy. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Sprinkle your quinoa bake with freshly sliced basil and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Caprese Quinoa Bake brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )

 


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