Friday, June 29, 2012

Quinoa Two More Ways

A while ago I posted two recipes for quinoa: pesto quinoa with spinach and grape tomatoes and Indian-spiced quinoa with tofu and dried cherries -

Needless to say, I really love quinoa. Here are two more ways to serve this great protein:

Orange-scented Quinoa Topped with Seared Sea Scallops

1) Cook 1 cup quinoa and sear sea scallops in a pan with olive oil and butter (or preferred vegan substitute.) Season scallops with granted pink fleur de sel to develop a nice golden-brown crust on them.
2) Mix cooked quinoa with a dressing of the fresh orange juice and zest of two oranges, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir in a handful of garbanzo beans and chopped fresh parsley. Let the warm quinoa absorb the dressing.
3) Top the warm quinoa with the sea scallops and serve!

Ginger-Lime Quinoa with Grilled Shrimp

1) While 1 cup quinoa cooks, grill at least a dozen shrimp seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper, and minced fresh ginger. (Add red pepper flakes for heat if desired.)
2) Mix into cooked quinoa the juice and zest of two limes with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and a pinch of yellow curry, stirring to coat the quinoa evenly.
3) Pour grilled shrimp, along with the juices and ginger, into the quinoa, tossing to disperse. Scrape any pan drippings into the quinoa - that's all the best flavor. Chop about half a cucumber or so into small dice and mix cucumbers into the quinoa and shrimp dish. Serve warm.
*Note: the quinoa is also good at room temperature or even cold, so it makes for great leftovers.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Salmon with "Peasto"

For a welcome home dinner I made roasted salmon with "peasto" - a pesto-pea sauce, skillet potatoes and balsamic spinach.

To make "peasto":
Simmer peas seasoned with salt and pepper, just barely covered with water, with the rind of good Italian parmesan in the pot to add a nutty, salty flavor to the broth as it melts (I keep the rinds in the freezer after using up the cheese, to use in soups); add parsley if fresh.

While the peas simmer, make fresh pesto: blend basil leaves with good olive oil, parmesan, salt and pepper, and walnuts (I chose this nut because I had a lot on hand, but pine nuts work as well), and fresh lemon juice to brighten the flavor. Let the peas cool down before adding them to the blender, mixing with the pesto until a creamy sauce texture. I reserved about a fourth of the peas and stirred them in for varying textures in the sauce, chilling the peasto to let the flavors meld. This is a great make-ahead sauce and freezes well, so you can reserve some for future meals. In addition to pairing it with salmon, as I did, it would of course work with pasta or on crostini as a spread, or even as a dipping sauce for fresh vegetables. Peasto is a healthy veggie creation that's packed with flavor!

To prepare the dinner, I let the peasto come to room temperature before topping the salmon with it to marinate before roasting in the oven. While the salmon baked, I sauteed new potatoes with caramelized diced onion and yellow peppers, seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper and fresh grassy parsley. I served up baby spinach with a light tossing of balsamic and olive oil on the side, to compliment the savory peasto salmon. I realize it might sound odd and resembles baby food, but as my best friend likes to say, "some of the weirdest-looking foods are the most delicious." Try it!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Girl's Night Dinner

For a recent "girl's night" I made a lovely vegetarian pasta dinner:

Fresh sundried tomato and goat cheese ravioli in a light cream sauce with mushrooms and spinach.

1) Slice half a dozen or so mushrooms (I like crimini for this) and saute in olive oil with minced garlic clove; season with salt and pepper to taste.
2) Deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine and wilt in fresh baby spinach, at least half a cup. Add light cream and simmer, allowing sauce to reduce. Add a pinch of nutmeg and turn down the heat.
3) Cook ravioli to al dente; drain.
4) Stir in cheese - crumbled grana padano gives a nice saltiness - until melted into the sauce, and add the ravioli to the pan, tossing with veggies and sauce to coat. Turn off heat and garnish with fresh parsley, shredded parmesan and freshly ground pepper. Serve to the girls with lots of white wine of course!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Orange Blossom Cake

For the latest birthday celebration I made my "orange blossom" cake - it's super light, moist, and healthy. Just use a basic cake recipe or yellow box mix and replace the oil with applesauce, the water or milk with fresh orange juice, and a tablespoon of Greek yogurt for silky protein. I added an orange's worth of fresh zest, a dash of vanilla and a pinch each of salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom (the secret "what's that?" ingredient to this cake) and slightly underbake the batter, allowing it to sit in the turned-off oven for one more minute before removing. The frosting is made from low fat cream cheese, about a 1/4 cup of confectioner's sugar, the zest of another orange and a dash of orange juice for natural sweetness - no butter or extra sugar here! - beat on low until creamy. Top with candied oranges for decoration. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Spinach and Mushrooms

Spinach and mushrooms sauteed in a light cream and gorgonzola sauce