Lemon + Sunflower Spring Quinoa

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A few weeks ago when we were in Boston for the marathon and our post-grad school (me) / post-tax season (William) vacation, we stayed in a cozy third-story Airbnb  apartment atop one of those ancient New England houses with narrow stairs and doors that close in every room. It was lovely and reminded me of my parents’ farmhouse before they tore out walls and opened up the space, but kept the narrow stairs.

The apartment had a tiny kitchen filled with old antique cabinets and a cozy eating nook luckily with skylight to let in more of the morning sun. What I loved about it — and every time we stay in a ‘cozy’ Airbnb actually, is that it reminds me of my time living in Ireland, cooking with whatever slim equipment is on hand, and creating simple meals with minimal ingredients. I’m often asked to share just these types of recipes. Admittedly, at home I prefer to plan meals a little more like a chef with a list of five or so meal ideas at the beginning of the week, and then I make one or two ‘parts’ of more complicated meals each day, often rolling over one component such as a sauce into another day and different meal. This isn’t the usual process for most people, I understand, but being in the kitchen is a major therapeutic relief and creativity space for me.

 

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When traveling, I usually switch up my routine to make the simplest of meals, only planning one meal ahead the night before a major race, and leaving it up to whatever we feel like in the following days. Because of my food and digestion sensitivities, I’m a stickler about making my own meal before races, but then am often a bit more lenient afterwards. When we were in Boston, we ate out about half or a third of the time thanks to ending up in a really great section of the city for delicious and allergen-friendly food. The rest of the time, I improvised with a few of the ingredients I’d stuffed in my suitcase, my tiny Ireland-era traveling spice and seasoning case, and a stop at the grocery for some fresh produce. On our last night there, I ended up with a version of this spring quinoa combination and I immediately knew I had to recapture and finesse it for all y’all that prefer some simple weeknight inspirations!

 

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At home, I added a couple fresh additions I didn’t have on the road like fresh mint and miso paste. I’ve kept them in the finished recipe because if you don’t already keep miso on hand to add umami flavor and depth to sauces, you definitely should try it. And fresh mint, though not always available without a garden, is a flavorful and helpful-for-digestion addition that can be added or not.

 

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Lemon + Sunflower Spring Quinoa, makes main-dish servings for 4 to 5
1 cup dry quinoa, cooked ahead
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans or 1 can
1 small bunch broccoli, chopped semi-small
a couple large handfuls of mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch radishes with greens, washed well and sliced thin
1 cup peas
salt and pepper as needed
fresh mint, minced

Lemon + Sunflower Dressing
1/4 cup sunflower butter
zest of one lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1  tsp. honey or maple syrup (optional)
1 Tbs. light miso (I use chickpea miso)

  • Cook the quinoa and chickpeas ahead. Or use one can of drained chickpeas.
  • After all the vegetables are sliced, combine them in a large skillet with a little water to steam-fry. I like to add the broccoli first, cover for a few minutes, and then add the rest in stages with the mushrooms, radishes, and lastly the peas. Once they’re cooked through but not soggy-soft, add in the quinoa and beans, stir and heat just until it’s all warm. Season with salt and pepper to taste at this point.
  • While the vegetables are cooking, combine the dressing ingredients in a small dish and whisk with a fork or spoon until they come together well. Add a splash or two of water if needed to thin it up. The consistency should be spoon-able but not runny.
  • Pour the dressing over the quinoa and vegetables, mix it all together, and then sprinkle the mint leaves atop and serve.
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Honey-Roasted Rhubarb and Favorites, Lately

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Hey friends, it’s been a hot minute. I’ve recently had an epiphany about ‘keeping the main thing the main thing,’ and for me right now, that’s successfully taking care of myself through peak weeks of marathon training, and then balancing summer term of grad school with my newish job, in that order. Everything else has been largely set aside for now unless it fits into the above. Which means I’ve made variations of chocolate walnut banana bread for three weeks in a row as end of the week baking therapy, made a lot of lovely but quick meals, taken significantly more restful moments and reincorporated naps into my life, but also haven’t done much else or shared here.

Below are a few favorites from the last couple weeks and months, and a lovely quick recipe for honey-roasted rhubarb, which tastes great as an add-in to a seasonal green salad, stirred through morning porridge, or simply spooned alongside some nice yogurt.

 

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to read: 
Plant Spirit Totems by Bloom Post
Eat Up! by Ruby Tandoh
Long days but learning so much in all my classes

to eat, drink, and imbibe:
Ginger-Turmeric Kombucha
Strawberries, and cardamom. also, rhubarb.
Flower Essences by Sophia Rose

to listen: 
Medicine Stories Podcast, but especially the episode with Sajah Popham (#17)
Lauren and Jesse’s new podcast, which is great for all sorts of life advice, but especially for athletes with questions.
Nicole Antoinette’s discussion with pro-runner Collier Lawrence. So much good stuff including goals, suicide prevention, and more.
A good pathophysiology review of the (lots of science!) involved in depression, for all you fellow science nerds.

to pause in awe and simply take in:
Early morning sunshine, through the leaves
Gifts from a lifetime friend who lives on the other side of the world

 

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Honey-Roasted Rhubarb
When adding the finished rhubarb to a seasonal salad, I find it goes great with a mix of delicate and hardier greens, and alongside early season snow or snap peas, pea shoots, toasted walnuts or hazelnuts, and a light vinaigrette dressing. That’s just one variation of how this can be incorporated into a savory meal, and partly why I tend to err on the side of less honey, to let rhubarb’s natural sour-tart flavor shine through. 

1 lb. rhubarb, sliced into 1-inch slices
1-2 Tbs. honey, as preferred

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Scatter the rhubarb in a single layer in a large baking tray, then drizzle over the honey, and gently mix it all together.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender, giving it a stir halfway through. The rhubarb pieces should keep their shape rather than cook all the way down.
  • Leave to cool slightly before serving.

Strawberry Tabbouleh Salad + an early summer catch up

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It has been a while since I rounded up all the inspirations that are lifting me and the last couple of months, there has been much. I enjoy going back and reading my previous posts of these types, so in the off-chance you’ll enjoy any of these as much as I have, I’m bringing them to you here.

Otherwise, this strawberry tabbouleh salad is so absolutely delicious that I’m going to make it on repeat until the strawberries slow down. It just might be my new favorite spring meal.


Reading
:
Tender: a cook and his vegetable patch

Iron and the Female Athlete: This review article was an assigned reading from my micronutrients class this term. I am learning so much and I really appreciated delving more into the research on select micronutrients that I (and many others) struggle with.

When Times Are Tough

Sick, Again: This perspective on living with an invisible and life-changing disease is one I resonate with. I love how Tessa was able to write about her experience and ultimately perspective on living with Crohn’s Disease.

The Power of a Letter: I’ve been saving this story about Obama’s mailroom for months. Just thinking about it lifts me up when the politics/media cloud threatens to take over.

Listening To:
Let it Out Podcast with Jessamyn Olivia Stanley and my one of my favorite ladies in food, Sarah Britton.

Connie Chapman’s Podcast about Ditching the Victim mentality (ep #69): Find Someone to Call You Out on Your Bullshit.(!)

The Rich Roll Podcast with John Mackey: Whole Foods Market opened in our city about eight months ago and I still haven’t been as I try to shop at the locally owned natural foods stores as much as I can. I didn’t expect to enjoy so much of this episode, especially Whole Foods’ founder John Mackey’s perspective on business.

And also, the episode with David Clark. I think I listened to this one about four times over in the space of three days this last week.

Self Care:
Inspiration from Claire

Self Care, Two Ways

Let it Out: I bought this journaling book last year, also authored by Let It Out podcast host, Katie Dalebout. I’ve been returning to its helpful prompts lately as there is so much good stuff here.

Into the Woods: I’ve followed Aran’s beautiful blog, Cannelle et Vanille, for as long as I knew food blogs existed. I love that she shared this video of her experience with food, as a therapy to heal and where she was able to find community and connection. So much of this resonates with my experience.

Lastly, Pia’s beautiful wisdom on a postcard from my younger self:
Ten years on again, as I look back at my younger self…I remember asking myself at the time, when everything seemed so chaotic in my life… Would I be bold enough to pursue my own dreams? To live away from my family? To live differently to my family? Will I be ok when my mother dies? Will I become a mother?
Trust. Because, yes. I need to remember this every time I ask myself heart questions in times of messiness and chaos. “Trust. Because, yes.” 

 

Strawberry Millet Tabbouleh, serves 3-5
I am a big fan of combining cooked grains, beans, and whatever seasonal vegetables are on hand to make main-dish style salads that can also double as potluck or celebratory sides. This salad, though a complete deviation from the traditional middle eastern tabbouleh, was a recent favorite in our house. The addition of strawberries really takes it to the next level.

1 cup millet
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon each cumin and coriander
2 cups water
3-4 green onions
1 pint strawberries
½ a bunch of radishes
2 cups cooked lima beans
A small handful of mint leaves, finely minced
A slightly larger handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely minced
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice from one small lemon
½ to ¾ teaspoon sea salt and black pepper
1/4 cup dukkah seasoning, as desired

  1. Place the millet in a small saucepan and then add the spices and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and then cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the water is absorbed, and then set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Thinly slice the green onions, strawberries, and radishes and add them to a large mixing bowl. Then add the cooked and cooled millet, beans, mint, parsley, oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Taste as you go and adjust seasonings as needed. Top with dukkah seasoning if desired.
  3. Serve chilled or at room temperature.