Lemon + Sunflower Spring Quinoa

FD46038E-A5BE-46CE-ADAE-BA502276F44E

 

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.

 

IMG_3346

 

 

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!

 

IMG_3334

 

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.

 

IMG_3331

 

 

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.
Advertisements

Simple Black Bean and Rice Bowls with Cilantro Green Sauce

img_3206

 

Sometimes the simplest is the best. I threw together this easy black bean and rice plate a few days ago using leftovers already on hand, and it turns out I liked it better than any of the original meals. It was a reminder to keep things simple, but also, creamy black beans, well cooked rice, steamed cabbage, and a good sauce are probably one of the best combinations for a deliciously quick winter meal.

 

img_3202

 

One thing I do want to mention is that for optimal nutrient absorption, it is an incredibly good idea to soak your beans and grains prior to cooking.

Whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes contain antioxidants called phytic acids (or phytates) which are the plants’ primary form of stored phosphorus. Phytates tends to bind minerals like zinc, magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron, making them more difficult for us to absorb. Soaking these foods for several hours prior to cooking initiates the sprouting process, which makes many of the minerals more digestible.

There is some debate as to whether we should worry about phytates or bother taking the time to soak our whole grains and nuts, as many experts suggest we simply eat a balanced diet and we’ll get enough of these minerals anyway. However, based on my personal experience as well as many individuals I’ve worked with, those of us that tend to eat primarily vegan or plant-based meals comprised mostly of these phytate-rich plants also show routine need for the very minerals that are bound up by phytates.

This is also one of the reasons why beans cooked from dried are a little more nutritious (not to mention having better flavor and texture) over their speed-cooked canned counterparts. To soak grains like rice, quinoa, and others, simply take the amount you’ll prepare, soak for a few hours, rinse, drain, and then cook as normal in 3/4 the amount of water. So for 1 cup brown rice, cook in 1 1/2 cups water for 40 minutes instead of 2 cups water. I find the texture is improved by this method as well.

 

 

img_3203

 

To make this delicious plate, I made my go-to pot of creamy black beans which makes enough for several meals, soaked and then cooked brown rice, purple cabbage cut into large chunks and steamed for about 10 minutes, and this delicious cilantro green sauce. Enjoy!

Cashew Cilantro Green Sauce
40 g / 2 1/2 Tbs. cashew butter
45 g / 1 bunch cilantro, rinsed and slightly chopped
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp. sea salt
90 ml / 6 Tbs. orange juice
1 Tbs. white wine or apple cider vinegar
water to thin, if necessary

  • Combine all the sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor, and blend until combined. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to achieve desired consistency, if you find it a little too thick.

 

References:
Frølich, W. (n.d.) Phytate–a natural component in plant food. Whole Grains Council. Retrieved from:  http://wholegrainscouncil.org/files/backup_migrate/PhytateProsCons_0910_DK-WGC.pdf.
Sparvoli, F. and Cominelli, E. (2015). Seed biofortication and phytic acid reduction: A conflict of interest for the plant? Plants. 4 (4): 728-755. doi:  10.3390/plants4040728.
Weil, A. (2010). Are phytates bad or good? Retrieved from: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA400758/Are-Phytates-Bad-or-Good.html.

Savory Spinach Crepes with Sautéed Mushrooms

IMG_2278

 

When I was on study abroad several years ago, my roommates and I frequented  a handful of restaurants semi-regularly, one of which was a creperie in Dublin’s city center. Like many that cater to the brunch crowd, this was an order at the counter establishment, and all the cooking was done just to the right of the till, behind the counter. I remember watching each time as the cook spread buckwheat or regular batter across the big crepe pan, let it sizzle, flipped, and then added toppings. Ever the one to favor vegetables, I often reverted to the menu options that leaned heavily towards spinach and mushrooms.

 

IMG_2254IMG_2255IMG_2258IMG_2263

 

Like in years past, The Recipe Redux challenged us to Grab a Book and Cook this month and because I wouldn’t want to break from tradition too terribly much, I reached for my newest Green Kitchen Stories cookbook and found a recipe on page 127 I’ve been tweaking for quite some time. I had even transferred my version to a word document, dated last from July. Of course it was a quick and savory green crepe recipe, leaning heavily on spinach and mushrooms. Apparently my preferred crepe flavors have changed remarkably little in all these years.

David and Luise use rice flour and eggs in their crepes, and then they dress them up with an extra step of tahini, apple, and garbanzo salad. I never did favor that particular combination, the extra step involved, or the heavy egg flavor that came through, as I’m often particular about how and when I’ll take my eggs. Instead, I tweaked the recipe over time to include buckwheat, garbanzo or garbanzo/fava flour for extra protein without another topping, and aquafaba as an egg alternative.

Being quick and easy, these are weeknight friendly and the batter will keep for a couple days in the fridge if needed. As an extra note for those who have allergy/intolerance restrictions or prefer to avoid purchasing unnecessary ingredients, I realized a few months back that my favored buckwheat flour was no longer being milled in a gluten-free facility. I tend to opt for metrics when working with flours anyway, and if you do too and have a semi well-stocked pantry and a coffee grinder, unroasted buckwheat groats (not kasha) will grind into a fine flour as quick as can be and doing so mostly skips the gluten-contamination issue. I also tend to keep leftover aquafaba (chickpea cooking water) in the freezer for occasions that call for quick crepe meals like this one, but if you’re partial to eggs and/or have flax or chia, those options work as well.

 

IMG_2273


Savory Spinach Crepes with Sautéed Mushrooms
, serves 3-4
adapted from Green Kitchen at Home

Crepe batter

¾ cup / 112 g buckwheat flour
¾ cup / 112 g garbanzo or garfava flour
6 Tbs. aquafaba (or 2 eggs, or 2 Tbs. ground flax or chia plus 6 Tbs. water)
2 cups / 500 ml non-dairy milk
1 cup / 250 ml water
a pinch of sea salt
1 1/2 cups fresh spinach, rinsed
1-2 tsp. coconut oil, for sautéeing

Mushrooms
1 lb./450 g mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. coconut oil
a couple sprigs fresh or dried thyme
salt and pepper

Optional Accompaniments
plain coconut yogurt
additional spinach
toasted sunflower seeds

  • Place the crepe ingredients in a large mixing bowl and blend, using a hand (immersion) blender, until smooth and green. Alternatively, mix the batter ingredients together in a blender. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes while you prep and cook the mushrooms.
  • For the mushrooms, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add coconut oil, garlic, sliced mushrooms, thyme, and a couple pinches of salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms are soft and glistening, about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside while cooking the crepes.
  • To cook the crepes, heat an 8 inch (20 cm) sauté pan over medium heat. Add a pinch of oil and when it is melted, about 1/3 cup (80 ml) of the crepe batter. Tilt the pan until the batter is evenly distributed. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until each crepe is golden and can be turned easily. Repeat with the remaining batter until all the crepes are cooked. There will be about 12 in total. Place the finished crepes on a plate in the oven on the lowest setting while cooking the remaining batter.
  • To serve, top each crepe with yogurt, if desired, and mushrooms. Feel free to add a small handful of additional spinach and/or some toasted sunflower seeds alongside to round out the meal.

If you’re of the mind, check out past December Recipe Redux posts:
Toasted Oat Porridge with Chamomile, Walnuts + Spiced Apples, from Chefs on the Farm
Chili with Chocolate and Walnuts, from Green Kitchen Travels
Quinoa + Chorizo Wintry Salad, from Vegetarian Everyday

recipe-redux-linky-logo