Tag Archives: quick dinner

Quinoa Salad with Spinach, Raisins, and Walnuts

Are you still following through on that New Year’s resolution? You know the one you made, promising yourself that you’ll eat healthier (More fiber? More veggies? Less meat?) in 2010? If it has been a bit of a struggle, or even if you’re still on board, but you’re sick and tired of the lettuce-based salads, smoothies, and the like, check out quinoa.

Quinoa is a tiny seed that acts like a grain. But it’s more than just another grain. Quinoa is packed with healthy fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals. It’s nutty in flavor, and will fill you up, leaving you satisfied. It’s gluten-free, so for those of us that have to stay away from gluten, this seed makes a perfect stand-in for recipes that call for bulgur or couscous. I personally love it – it cooks up in 15 minutes, and absorbs flavors and dressings without getting mushy, making it perfect for a salad such as this.

What’s wonderful about this salad? You can throw in pretty much anything you want. Really. I stood in my kitchen last night, deciding what easy-to-make, easy-on-the-tummy meal I wanted to throw together. This salad literally originated from leftovers and pantry staples. Substitutions are simple – I can imagine dried cranberries in place of the currants and raisins, almonds or pine nuts in place of the walnuts, or fresh spinach, kale, or chard in place of the frozen spinach used here. Really, it’s all about you, and choosing a mixture of ingredients that will satisfy, and keep you on that road to eating healthier.

Quinoa Salad with Spinach, Raisins, and Walnuts

1 T olive oil

2 T minced red onion

1 garlic clove, minced

1 c quinoa, rinsed (rinsing is to remove the bitterness from the seeds)

1 ½ T golden raisins

1 ½ T dried currants

1 2/3 c water

1 c frozen chopped spinach, thawed

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

¼ c toasted chopped walnuts

2 T chopped parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

1-2 T good quality extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

3 oz feta or goat cheese

 In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil to medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until soft. Add the quinoa and continue to sauté for another minute or so. Add the raisins, currants and water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook until water is nearly absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in spinach and cover again and let cook another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, walnuts, and parsley. Season generously to taste. Drizzle olive oil over and stir in. Serve chilled or at room temperature, topped with a bit of feta.

 Serves 4.

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Filed under Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy, Salads, Vegetarian

White Bean, Kale, and Tomato Stew

Apparently I cannot get enough soups and stews this season. But what’s wrong with that? They’re filling, comforting, and many times, can be healthy. Take this stew, for example. It’s vegetarian. (Vegan, even, if you omit the Parmesan.) It’s gluten-free. It’s packed with fiber and nutrition. But that’s not even the best part. It’s cheap to make, and it’s fast and easy! If your December has been as busy as mine has, this will be a blessing! I made this the other night for dinner, which left me with plenty of time to wrap presents. It was delicious and so guilt-free that I even had seconds.

I’m a bit ahead of schedule for New Year’s resolutions, but I’ve already decided on one resolution – to incorporate more vegetarian and vegan meals into our diet. The reasons are plentiful – swapping more plant-based foods for the meats means our grocery bill will be lighter. Meals can be healthier. And our carbon footprint will be smaller. While I am not aspiring to become a vegetarian full-time, I do acknowledge and appreciate the benefits that healthy vegetarian meals can provide. (Healthy being the key word here – while french fries, ice cream, and candy can be vegetarian, I am not opting to pick up a steady diet of such things.) This will be a bit of a change of mindset for me. I am accustomed to making a grocery list and planning meals according to what proteins (aka meat) is on sale that week, or what meat I have in our freezer. I will have to make a concerted effort to plan for at least one meatless dinner every week. I’m excited about it. I hope to share with you some meatless, gluten-free meal options very soon!

For now, I hope you’ll enjoy this quick stew.

White Bean, Kale, and Tomato Stew, adapted from Serious Eats

1 ½ lbs kale, larger stems removed, and leaves chopped (can substitute swiss chard or other leafy greens)

¼ c olive oil

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

¼ t crushed red pepper

1 14-oz can of diced tomatoes

1 15-oz can of white beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups vegetable broth

Salt and pepper

Grated Parmesan

Fill a large stockpot halfway with water. Bring to a boil and then toss in the kale leaves. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 6-8 minutes or until leaves are tender (not mushy). Drain leaves in a colander.

Wipe out any excess water from the pot. Place back on burner and turn to medium heat. Add olive oil, garlic, and red pepper, and sauté for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.

Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the beans and broth, and bring to a boil again. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.

Reduce heat to a simmer and add the kale. Cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with Parmesan.

Serves 2-3.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy, Soups, Vegetables, Vegetarian