Quinoa & Arugula Bowl with Yoghurt Dressing

IMG_3708 And I’m back…. It’s the beginning of the CSA season and as usual the first couple of months the boxes are light and filled with a multitude of varying greens. This past week, I received arugula. I usually prepare my arugula in a salad with a drizzle of amazing pear balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. I decided this time, and mainly due to the fact that I was having guests for dinner to use my arugula more for a main meal.

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Introducing, the Quinoa & Arugula Bowl with a Yoghurt dressing inspired from the California Barley Bowl, which alludes to the feel and taste of this bowl. Well…. if feels and tastes very clean and pure. It’s the sort of thing you can do most of the prep ahead of time – cook the quinoa, tossed with arugula (or sprouts), toasted sliced almonds, avocado, a bit of feta – all dolloped with a simple lemon zest yogurt sauce.

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This bowl was a hit with my guests. First it fed as a side dish eight people and the yoghurt dressing was such a welcoming surprise to cool us down from the blistering heat we’ve been experiencing lately. There was a morsel of leftovers and my cousin Talia ate it for breakfast. It has such a healthy organic west coast feel that I totally get why it can be suitable for breakfast. Mind you… Talia happens to be from California, so this was probably nostalgic for her.

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California Barley Bowl

Serves 6
Ingredients

2 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups arugula
¼ cup feta cheese
¼ cup toasted sliced almonds
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch red pepper flakes (*optional- I like a little spice)
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced

 Yoghurt Sauce

1 cup plain yogurt
¼ cup finely chopped chives
¼ cup finely chopped dill
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
¼ teaspoon black pepper

 Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, toss together cooked quinoa, arugula, feta cheese, almonds, salt, and red pepper flakes.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon zest, juice, green herbs and black pepper. Top the quinoa bowl with the yogurt sauce, place sliced avocados around the salad and serve.

Quinoa and Swiss Chard with Parmesan

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Short of 2 weeks ago, my CSA started up for the season. This is my 4th year hosting the Great Neck, Long Island site (uhmm… that I started- bragging rights). Happy to say that over the years there has been an overwhelming response to the CSA in Great Neck, that it had to spill over to another site close by. Although there is less traffic in my garage, which is where my makeshift CSA is, I at least get to know everyone in my group on a more personal basis.

Typical of crops that grow well in the late spring, is the Swiss Chard- which made it’s first appearance the first week of the CSA. It contains a lot of fiber, and a host of antioxidant vitamins. It is a tall leafy green vegetable with a thick, crunchy stalk that comes in a fuchsia stem with wide fan-like green leaves. Chard belongs to the same family as beets and spinach and shares a similar taste profile: it has the bitterness of beet greens and the slightly salty flavor of spinach leaves. Both the leaves and stalk of chard are edible. I decided to cook it with quinoa, which is a complete protein and makes a fulfilling and satisfying dish that could last for a couple of meals. Cremini mushrooms are added, also known as the “younger” portobello mushroom, for a hearty and meaty chew against the nutty quinoa.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 pound Swiss Chard, stems and leaves cut into 1/2 inch pieces, rinsed well
Coarse  Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, minced
12 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced thin
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/2 ounce Parmesan cheese, shaved

Directions

  1. Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Meanwhile heat 1 teaspoon oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook Swiss Chard, stirring until wilted and tender, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and season with pepper. Add pepper flakes and toss. Transfer to a platter.
  2. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil and the garlic to skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring until garlic is slightly golden, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms, and cook stirring occassionally, until they release their juices, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook until mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in cooked quinoa; cook to heat, about 1 minute and add thyme. Serve the mushroom-quinoa mixture over the Swiss chard, topped with parmesan.

Quinoa and Broccoli with Japanese Carrot-Ginger Dressing

I was in an epicurean culture shock when I first arrived in Tokyo at the age of nine to visit my grandfather, who had lived there for some twenty years as a rare pearl dealer. My parents wanted to expose me to Japanese culture, which included sushi, but I was not a fan of raw fish wrapped in lettuce of the ocean. I still remember looking down the street at rows and rows of restaurants in the Roppongi neighborhood, the epicenter of Tokyo nightlife, and spying not one Western eatery. Finally I succumbed to a Japanese restaurant and we ordered a carrot ginger salad. That was my first introduction to this delightful Japanese condiment. Years later, I discovered from Good Housekeeping magazine that this dressing, typically served on lettuce greens, fuses well with the South America grain, quinoa.

To save on time and pots, you can steam the broccoli in a steamer basket on top of the bubbling quinoa in a rice cooker. While you wait for those two to cook, a food processor or blender makes quick work for the warm orange colored dressing that clings so well to the quinoa. The sharp flavor of the ginger is rounded out by the toasted nutty sesame oil and soy sauce, and mellowed by the sweet ground carrot. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups quinoa
3 cups water
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 large head broccoli, cut into florets

Dressing
2 carrots, chopped
2inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
3-tablespoons vegetable oil
3-tablespoons rice vinegar
4-teaspoons gluten-free or regular soy sauce
3-teaspoons sesame oil
Directions
      1      Pour the quinoa into a sieve and rinse it under cold running water. In a saucepan, combine the quinoa, 3 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce the heat to low; cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl.
     2     Meanwhile, fill a medium-sized saucepan with enough water to come 2 inches from the bottom and set over medium-high heat.  Place the broccoli in a steamer basket, and when the water boils, set the steamer on top of the saucepan. Alternatively, place the broccoli directly into the nearly boiling water. Cook, covered, until the broccoli turns bright green and is crisp-tender. Add the broccoli to the quinoa.
      3      In a food processor, combine the carrot, ginger, oil, vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil and process until puréed. Add to the quinoa and broccoli and toss to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Cook’s Note – Another alternative is to combine the quinoa with water and salt in a rice cooker and use the steam basket that comes with the rice cooker for the broccoli.

Syrian Chickpea & Quinoa Casserole (Cascasoon)

Memorial Day marks the start of summer and thank goodness warmer weather seems to have arrived. Yesterday in Great Neck Estates, we celebrated our Centennial with a big bash. The typical barbecue fare that most people have associated with Memorial Day weekend as the griddle sizzles with smoke.

I was manning the table for the Environmental Commission educating our 1000 families on Recycling, CSA’s and Green Living. You can always drop me a line if you would like the comprehensive pamphlet that I created and I will be happy to email it to you.

In any event, Vegetarians seem to miss out on the barbecues and we are always in search of alternatives. It’s like we are missing part of the fun. Memorial Day has always been associated with outdoor activities and barbecues while gathering with family and friends. So this year, I made a big dish suitable for a large crowd and almost anyone, especially the little ones will love it.

This Syrian dish known as Cascasoon is traditionally made with couscous, coming from the Arabic etymology, “minced into small pieces.” I have substituted couscous for quinoa, which does not compromise flavor whatsoever. For those of you that like melted gooey stringy cheese, you can bake the Cascasoon with cheese, which makes it more of a family meal that the kids will enjoy. I have used Muenster cheese, because I like that “Muenster” is a derivative of the Latin word “monasterium.” Monks lived quiet simple lives in harmony with nature.

Memorial Day is the time to spend with your family- outdoors in nature, a meal that will bring harmony as you eat and chat together. This recipe has been adapted from Poopa Dwek’s Aroma’s of Allepo.

Serves 6 to 8

 

INGREDIENTS


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (16 ounce) package of Quinoa (2 cups)
2 cups cooked Garbanzo beans ** (One 15 ounce can, washed and drained)
1 ½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 ½ cups water
¼ cup olive oil
¼ pound sliced Meunster cheese (optional)*

Directions

1 Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic for 6 to 8 minutes, or until translucent.
2 Add the Quinoa and continue sautéing until the grain turns brown, 4 to 5 minutes.
3 Add the chickpeas (if not using canned, otherwise add it in step 4) salt, pepper and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat simmer covered until all the water is soaked up, about 25 minutes.
4 Pour in the olive oil and toss gently. If using canned chickpeas, add it in this step.
5 Optional: Spoon the Cascasoon into a baking casserole dish and top with the cheese. Bake uncovered at 350°F for 10 minutes, or until the cheese melts.

Cooks Note:
* Vegan option if not using cheese in step 5.
** To Prepare: ¾ cup beans, soaked overnight or boil them for an hour. Remove outer layer; drain and rinse.

Thai Quinoa (Vegan, Gluten Free)

My parents used to live in Bangkok and when I would visit them, it was always a special treat to dine at the Thai restaurant in the Shangri La Hotel by the Chao Phraya River, also known as “The Brown River.” No too imaginative with the name, the river was literally and still is brown.

My first boat tour down the Brown River, just minutes from the fancy Shangri La Hotel, and you were faced with rows and rows of shacks built on flimsy stilts in the water. Adults would launder their clothing in this brown water and children would happily swim in this mud water. It was so bizarre to me and a real eye opener at the tender age of 9 yeas old at the destitution many people in Thailand lived in.

I really appreciated the simple creature comforts of a fluffy bed, nice clothes, food and a warm shower.

I do miss Thailand sometimes, as it’s also known as “The Smiling Country.” Thai people speak very softly and always greet respectfully. This dish transports me back to Thailand with the delicate combination of lime and basil topped off with the heat from the jalapeño pepper. This recipe is from Susie Fishbein’s cookbook Passover by Design: Picture Perfect Kosher by Design Recipes for the Holiday.

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS


1 1/2 cups dry quinoa
3 cups water
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
12 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 small red onion, minced
1 firm mango (not too ripe) peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/8-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lime

Directions
1 Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in a strainer. Do not skip this step or a bitter, soap-like natural coating will remain.
2 Once the quinoa is drained, place it into a medium saucepot with the water over medium high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer covered until the water is absorbed, about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the grains turn translucent and the outer layer pops off.
3 Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the minced jalapeno, basil, cilantro, red onion, and mango. Drizzle in the oil, salt, and lime juice. Stir to combine.
4 Add the quinoa and toss to combine.
5 Serve warm or at room temperature.

Spiced Dried Fruit Quinoa (Vegan, Gluten Free)

It has been quite some time since I got a chance to sit down and write a post. Passover has taken a good chunk of my time, between cooking and cleaning. 
For many Jews around the world, Passover is a tough holiday because it’s eight days with out eating any leavened bread, and for Ashkenazi Jews this has extended to almost anything leavened- like beans and rice also known as kitniyot. The custom is for Jews to follow their culinary heritage and traditions. So for the Ashkenazi Jews, kitniyot were not part of the culinary practice in Eastern Europe. I, on the other hand am a Sephardi Jew who eats rice and beans during Passover, because this were staple ingredients along most of the Silk Road. Now, where it gets a bit sticky is with my husband who is of Eastern European descent and was not accustomed to rice and beans on Passover. As a fair compromise to him, I made this Spiced Dried Fruit Quinoa, since it is one of the permissible foods to eat during Passover.
It was very important for me to celebrate my heritage as a Sephardi Jew, but also respect my husbands’ traditions. Along the Silk Road, dried fruits are regularly used to catapult an ordinary dish to a festive dish. Since Passover is a holiday commemorating the Jews release from slavery, it calls for a celebratory dish. This quinoa dish was a fair compromise for us both. The quinoa is adorned with dried apricots and dates enhancing the aromatic flavors of the cinnamon, cardamom and ginger. The result is a warm and slightly sweet flavor almost sweet enough for a dessert, but I suggest it served with a curried vegetable dish. With this dish you are transported with flavors from around the world into your home. This recipe has been adapted from Martha Stewarts, Cinnamon Scented Couscous.


INGREDIENTS
1/3 cup almonds, slivered

3 cups water

2/3 cup dates, diced

1/3 cup  dried apricots, chopped

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

Salt to taste

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 ½ cups quinoa

Serves 6

Directions
      1      Preheat over to 350°F
      2      Toast almonds in baking sheet for 10 minutes, stirring once.
      3      Combine water, dates, apricots, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, salt, oil  and quinoa in a medium saucepan under a medium high flame.
      4      Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until all water is absorbed.
      5      Stir in almonds and serve.

Spiced Dried Fruit Quinoa (Vegan, Gluten Free)


Interestingly quinoa is in the family of beets and spinach and originated in South America. It was a staple dish in the Andes, secondary to potatoes. Quinoa is a wonderful grain for vegetarians since it is high in protein and essential amino acids, unlike rice. A common cooking method is to treat quinoa much like rice, bringing two cups of water to a boil with one cup of grain, covering at a low simmer and cooking for 14–18 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed. The cooked germ looks like a tiny curl and should have a slight bite to it.

This dish is a Middle Eastern delight with dried apricots and dates enhanced with the aromatic flavors of cinnamon, cardamom and ginger giving this quinoa a rich warm and slightly sweet flavor. In fact it is sweet enough for a dessert, but I suggest it served with a curried vegetable dish. With this dish you are transported with flavors from around the world into your home. This recipe has been adapted from Martha Stewarts, Cinnamon Scented Couscous. I find that most dishes that ask for couscous can be easily adapted for quinoa, a gluten free grain.
Serves 6

INGREDIENTS
1/3 cup almonds, slivered

3 cups water

2/3 cup dates, diced

1/3 cup  dried apricots, chopped

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

Salt to taste

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 ½ cups quinoa



Directions
                      1      Preheat over to 350°F
                      2      Toast almonds in baking sheet for 10 minutes, stirring once.
                      3      Combine water, dates, apricots, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, salt, oil  and quinoa in a medium  saucepan under a medium high flame.
                      4      Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until all water is absorbed.
                     5      Stir in almonds and serve.