I aim to make one vegetarian meal once a week in hopes of reducing our dependence on meat. Plus, it feels healthier. We have made great strides over the years. Years ago, a vegetarian meal used to consists of pasta with marinara sauce. Then, we moved on to meat substitutes like veggie burgers or fake chicken patties. We still buy those, but as routine meals, not as something specifically vegetarian. A few weeks ago, I saw a recipe for lemon parmesan vinaigrette on one of my favorite blogs. Andrea, the author of the blog, said that one of her quick meals is "1 cup quinoa + 1 cup beans + 1 cup vegetables."
Prior to this blog, I had barely heard of quinoa. From what I found, quinoa is an ancient gluten-free crop from South America. Its protein content is very high (12%–18%), and it contains a balanced set of essential amino acids. It is a good source of dietary fiber and iron, amongst other things. After I read up on it a little, I was intrigued enough to try it. I nonchalantly included it on the weekly grocery list. Poor Dan was so boggled to find it on the list when he was at the store without me. He couldn't even find it on the shelf without some help from a store clerk. As it turns out, it was located in the gluten-free section, not the organic section.
When we went to prepare the quinoa, Dan learned that it needed to be rinsed prior to cooking. We don't have a sieve... We got resourceful. As I cooked the quinoa, Dan made childish comments about its appearance, oatmeal-like smell, an threatened to eat something else if the dish didn't come out. This is unusual for him. He usually has confidence in my cooking. After I tossed the quinoa with beans, veggies, and drizzled it in the vinaigrette, he was less skeptical. In fact, he said, "I could eat this every day." If I had to describe it, I'd say it looks like tiny beads (seeds) but tastes a lot like rice (or couscous, if you've had it).
Now, we're experimenting with different variations on the dish. Our favorite so far is what we would like to call, Bruschetta Quinoa:
- 1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
- 1 can cannellini beans
- 1 cup store bought tomato bruschetta
- 4 ounce can of mushrooms, diced small
- 1/4 of a white onion, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup reduced fat grated parmesan cheese
Our next variation is going to be a Mexican quinoa bowl: black beans, peppers, corn, salsa, etc. It should be good!