Two Heads of Lettuce

Simple recipes for vegetarian potlucks. Would you like to join the Two Heads of Lettuce team? Contact twoheadsoflettuce at gmail dot com.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Farmers' Market Quinoa

Below is a recipe from my new favorite website, Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. These recipies are especially fabulous if you're usually a meat or dairy eater, but aren't familiar with vegan cooking, and happen to live somewhere that kosher dairy and meat are scarce. I often find that for potlucks I want to keep things simple, and cooking vegan is often cheaper than cooking with dairy and eggs. Additionally, for potlucks, vegan dishes often taste better cold and can be left out for many hours without spoiling. Personally, I keep items like canned tomatoes, dried chickpeas, and frozen spinach in the house at all times (in addition to quinoa and pasta), so that I can always whip up a quick main dish for a potluck without having to go to the store.

Enjoy this one and the others on the site! There are always new ones being posted. (and if you're eating at table 1 at Kol Zimrah this Friday, you can taste it yourself!)

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I love this recipe because it's full of vegetables. It started life as a pasta recipe in Robin Robertson's book 366 Simply Delicious Dairy-Free Recipes. I've kept her technique of adding soy milk to the sauce, but in addition to substituting the very healthy quinoa for pasta, I've increased the amount of eggplant and herbs used and added some chickpeas. It's still a very mild-tasting dish, but that's perfect for letting the flavors of the veggies shine.

The directions below are for cooking the quinoa in a pressure cooker, but if you don't have one, you can use a stove-top method. Just use 3 cups of water to cook the quinoa in a covered saucepan for about 15 minutes, or until it's tender and shows little white "tails."

Farmers' Market Quinoa

For the quinoa:

1 1/2 cups quinoa
2 1/4 cups water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
3/4 tsp. salt (omit for low-sodium)
1 cup chopped onion
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 medium yellow squash or zucchini -- cut into 1/4-inch cubes
4 cloves garlic -- minced
1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes (I use Muir Glen fire-roasted)
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup minced fresh basil -- or 2 tablespoons dried basil
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
soy parmesan (optional)

Rinse the quinoa well by placing it in a fine-mesh strainer and stirring it under running water for at least 2 minutes. This removes the coating of saponin (a natural insecticide) that can give quinoa a bitter taste.

Bring the water to boil in the pressure cooker and then add the quinoa and seasonings. Lock the lid in place, and bring to high pressure. Cook for one minute at high pressure; then remove from the heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally while you prepare the vegetables.

Spray or wipe a large, covered Dutch oven or wok with a tiny bit of olive oil; heat it over medium heat, add the onion, and cook for 5 minutes or until beginning to brown. Add the eggplant, bell pepper, zucchini, and garlic and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently but keeping it covered between stirrings. Add the tomatoes to the pan with their liquid, along with the chickpeas.

Lower the heat to a simmer and continue to cook 5 more minutes. Slowly stir in the soy milk. Blend well and season with oregano, basil, salt and pepper to taste.

Add the cooked quinoa to the vegetables and mix together thoroughly. Sprinkle with the soy parmesan, if desired. Serve immediately.

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