Tag Archives: Quinoa

Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini

7 Oct

One thing I don’t really understand about restaurant patrons is this: why do you always try to order from someone who is not your waiter? Maybe you don’t pay much attention so you can’t remember which one of us is your server? But…I’m a girl. The busboy is a boy. So you could at least differentiate between us. I know you’re probably super psyched about that tiramisu. But I just brought you the dessert menu, and I promise I will be back within a couple minutes to see what you want. In fact, right now I’m standing right behind him, about to ask you what you want. So maybe you could wait 2 seconds for him to clear your plate and I’ll get that order from you?

Pro-tip: At least at my restaurant, only your server can access your order in the system. Another server can’t enter whatever you ordered for me. So when you tell someone else you want a refill of wine, they have to first find me, tell me, remember what you asked for and what table you’re at. By the time they do, I probably would have already come over and gotten the order from you personally.

But I do love waitressing. Especially when you’re just at that right amount of busy that you never really stop moving but you are still able to get to every table as often as you need too.  And since I love food, I especially enjoy when people ask for recommendations. I have some strong feelings about some of those dishes.  People veer away from things named Hunkar Begendi, and they just need someone to assure them that it will be the best decision they’ve made all week, even if they can’t pronounce it.

Also the nachos are great when you’re drinking margaritas. No really, we’re a Turkish restaurant, I swear.

I’d also like to admit right now that I am REALLY bad at carrying martini glasses. I didn’t know it was possible to so consistently spill things on myself. Why did we design a glass that is shaped with what seems like the sole purpose of spilling alcohol?

So yes. In case you were wondering, I did just spill some of your Cosmo down my arm. My bad.

One side effect of waitressing, though, is that I’m really not cooking as much as I was before. Two nights a week I eat at the restaurant after my shift, and a lot of week nights I’m throwing together something easy. So, I’ll try to post something up here whenever I make something worthwhile, but it’s likely going to be less frequent than I would like. My mom has been hassling me to post this recipe, since she saw a photo of the finished product but I didn’t get this post together until WEEKS later. Sorry, mom! (Also you might be saying “your recipe calls for shallots, but I see onions in that picture.” True. I used onions, but after eating it, I think shallots would have tasted much better, so I highly suggest going that route.)

Stuffed Zucchini
Serves 3
3 medium zucchinis
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs olive oil
2 ears sweet corn, cut off the cob
1 large tomato, diced
2 shallots, diced
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Slice zucchinis in half longways. Use a spoon to scrape the seeds out, creating a small hollow area in each zucchini, like little zucchini canoes. But don’t take out too much, you still want to taste the zucchini. Set aside on a baking sheet lined with foil.
Add quinoa, water and salt in a small pot and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Let simmer for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy and semi-transparent. While quinoa cooks, heat olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sweet corn and cook for 5 minutes. Set aside.
When quinoa is finished cooking, taste and add additional salt if needed. Add shallot and corn mixture to quinoa. Add tomatoes and mozzarella and stir to thoroughly combine.
Divide quinoa mixture among hollowed out zucchinis. Top with a little extra shredded mozzarella.
Cook stuffed zucchinis for 15 minutes or until cheese on top is bubbly.

Honey Quinoa Bread

17 Mar

The worst thing about being unemployed are those days you realize you haven’t left the house, and the only people you’ve talked to all day were your kitchen appliances. I definitely talk to inanimate objects waaaay more often since I lost my job. In fact, as I sat down to write this post, I chastised my computer’s power cord for being difficult and not staying plugged in.

But this week has been a really good week. I’ve managed to get out and about every single day. On Monday I got to fill in for a volunteer who had to cancel last minute at Martha’s Table, helping to pass out soup and sandwiches from the back of a van as part of their mobile soup kitchen, McKenna’s Wagon. It’s one of my favorite actitivies, all the guys that come out to get free food are very friendly and love to chat us up, and they always help us unload and load the tables and water jugs from the van.

Tuesday night, a friend and I went to see Rocky Votolato and Matt Pond in concert. It was just a fantastic show. The highlights were when Matt Pond and crew came out to play White Daisy Passing with Rocky, and then Rocky came out during Matt’s set to play New Hampshire with them (my favorite Matt Pond song). After the show, we ended up going out for drinks with the band, so now I can officially say I’ve taken a tequila shot with Matt Pond. (I hate tequlia, but I love Matt Pond, so it evens out, I guess).

Last night I had volunteer orientation with 826DC, so now I can start volunteering with them too. I’m very excited about it. We’re actually having a bake sale this Sunday (tentatively) at Eastern Market, so if you’re in DC, stop by! I’m making peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, and maybe a few other things, depending on how much time I have on Saturday to bake. Most of the volunteer work will be tutoring kids after school and helping out at the writing workshops they host, but I have to get TB tested and background checked first.

And today is St. Patty’s Day, so I guess I’ll be drinking green beer later. Gross.

But anyway, in the midst of my busy week, I had a chance to make this bread, and it is just the most fantastic bread I’ve ever had. Quinoa just kills me every time. It’s so delicious. There is so much flavor here, so nutty, so fulfilling.

Let’s get a close up:

Mmmm so good.

There’s a lot to love in this bread, you’ve got your quinoa, your oatmeal, your whole wheat flour, and a bit of honey to sweeten things up.

I decided to use red quinoa, just to give the bread a fun color, but white would work just as well.

I thought I was home alone when I was making my bread, but then my roommate walked into the kitchen while I was kneading and making a lot of odd grunting noises. But I think she forgave me once the whole house smelled like fresh baked bread.

I also had a chat with this bread about how it was doing such a beautiful job of rising. Really, it was a champ.

I was expecting a denser bread, since there is so much whole grain going on here, but it was really not dense at all. Just absolute perfection.

Honey Quinoa Bread
Adapted from Marian Blazes

Makes 1 9×5 loaf

1/2 cup raw quinoa
1 cups water
¼ cup oatmeal
¼ cup water
¼ cup milk
1 teaspoons yeast
6 tbsp warm water
2 ½ tbsp honey
2 tbsp vegetable oil
¼ cup milk
1 ¼ – 1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoons salt (to taste)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour

Cook the quinoa in 1 cup of water for 10 to 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed. While the quinoa cooks, cook the oatmeal in the ¼ cup water and ¼ cup milk until liquid is absorbed. Let both cool.

Place 6 tbsp warm water in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) and sprinkle yeast over the water. Let rest 5 minutes. Stir honey, oil, and milk into the yeast mixture with a wooden spoon (or with dough hook on low speed).

Add 1/2 cup of the bread flour and the salt and stir well. Add the cooked quinoa and oatmeal and stir.

Add all of the whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup more of the bread flour and stir. When the dough starts to get stiff, turn out onto floured surface and begin to knead. (If using a standing mixer, continue to knead with dough hook). Keep adding flour and kneading until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes with a mixer, or 10 to 15 minutes by hand. Dough should feel slightly sticky but should not be wet and slack. You should be able to form it into a ball and it should hold its shape.

Lightly oil a large bowl with vegetable oil and place bread in the bowl, turning to coat lightly with the oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Let bread dough rise in a warm spot until double in size, about 2 hours.

Oil a 9×5 loaf pan. Punch down dough and shape into a ball. Pat/flatten into an oval shape about the length of the bread pan. Fold long sides in and tuck them underneath as you place the bread into the pan, so that the top surface of the bread is smooth and without seams.

Let rise in warm place until bread has almost doubled in size, 45 minutes to an hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

When oven is hot, place bread in center of oven. Throw a handful of ice cubes into bottom of oven to create steam. Bake for 20 minutes. Cover bread loosely with foil if the top is getting too brown and bake 5-10 minutes more. Bread should sound hollow when tapped.

Let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Turn out onto wire rack and let cool completely.

Spinach and Quinoa Salad

25 Feb

Guys. Why didn’t anyone tell me about quinoa? I know that I had heard vague things about it, seen it on menus here and there, but I was obviously not paying enough attention.

When I go to the grocery store, I have a bad habit of just strolling around the aisles, looking at all the stuff they have. This leads to impluse buying, but I just like to see all the different foods out there! This week, I strolled by the bulk bins and on a whim, decided to get a small bag of quinoa. I vaguely remembered hearing of people putting quinoa on salads, and I had some spinach leftover from my lasagna, so it seemed like a good idea.

I got home and had to google “how to prepare quinoa” because I had no idea. But my search led me to several articles about how great quinoa is for you. Now, I love a food that tastes like a carb but secretly is great for me. That just makes my day.

Did you know:

1. Quinoa is actually a seed. And it’s not part of the grass family, so it isn’t a grain, it’s a “pseudo-cereal.” I like pseudo-anything. Okay, so actually I just like using the prefix “pseudo.” So pseu me. (See what I did there?)

2. It’s one of the few plants that offers you a complete set of amino acids, so it is a great source of protein for non-meat eaters (or very occasional meat eaters, like me).

3. It’s high in fiber. I love fiber. It makes my world go round.

4. It’s gluten free, if that’s a problem for you. And easy to digest! Yay!

5. It’s a great souce of iron, magnesium, folate, and phosphorus. I’m sure those things are important, right?

You can expect to see quinoa popping up in recipes around these parts with more frequency now that my love affair with it has been allowed to blossom. I hear it makes a great breakfast (and the fiber will help you stay full throughout the morning!).

Spinach and Quinoa Salad

Serves 1

For salad:
¼ cup uncooked quinoa
½ cup water
1-2 cups baby spinach, washed and dried
2 tbsp dried cranberries
2-3 tbsp crumbled goat cheese

If not using pre-rinsed quinoa, place in a fine-mesh strainer and run under cold water for a minute or two to wash away the saponin (or else the quinoa will taste bitter). Add rinsed quinoa and ½ cup of water to a small sauce pan and simmer over medium heat until water is absorbed (10-15 minutes). You want it to still have a little “bite” to it, like al dente pasta.

While your quinoa is cooking, go ahead and throw the goat cheese and cranberries onto the spinach, and you can mix up a homemade vinaigrette (or use a dressing you have in your fridge). My standard balsamic vinaigrette recipe is below, and I think it works well with my standard carb/fruit/cheese combo in salads.
When quinoa is finished cooking, just spoon it on top of the spinach salad, dress with vinaigrette, and enjoy!

Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp honey
pinch salt
pinch fresh ground pepper

Combine all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk to combine. So easy. This is why I don’t ever buy salad dressing at the store.