Thursday, May 26, 2011

Meals of the Quinoa variety

Currently I am a solo dweller in a two bedroom condo amidst a rain-soaked Michigan spring and deep into a month long job search. My eating patterns over the last few months have had more changes than Oprah's had hairdos! In March, still in culinary school, I was enjoying those student lunches as often as possible, sampling bakery treats after class and through two jobs, barely cooking for myself. When I finished the program, I began an attempt to "clean out my cupboards" in preparation for my move, meaning I ate whatever I had stuffed into my space in the kitchen (Karen being the lucky recipient of all that I couldn't get through!). Then there was the road trip of fast food, intertwined with my homemade granola bars and gluten free muffins, a last purchase from the Flying Apron Bakery. To say I was craving consistency in my food-life is an understatement.
Basic Quinoa

As I settled into Michigan and regained use of a kitchen, I began to cook...and cook, and cook. There was someone here, always ready to eat (and bear the grocery bill burden!), give his complements to the cook and help with dishes. We had a good rhythm. Now, as he's off to Japan for a three week work trip, I am alone in a "new" place for the first time in my life. Certainly able to enjoy most of the time while sipping my morning coffee, reading and getting into the interview phase with a few positions. What I didn't knew about myself, was what my cooking style would be when no one was around. The answer is a combination of interesting & simple. I try odd combinations of things and haven't really gotten from anywhere in particular. Basically applying the simplest of methods to the foods I'm most comfortable with. This sort of leads to lots of dishes based around one ingredient, the first of which has been Quinoa!

Quinoa Salad
I made this pot of basic quinoa, cooked in water with some leftover caramelized onions and already prepped carrots and celery. Nothing spectacular, but even at this simple and plain state, it was enjoyable. However, that was not the intended end use. For that first dinner, I added sesame dressing to about a cup of quinoa, stirred in chopped spinach, halved cherry tomatoes and sliced scallions. The next morning for breakfast, the basic quinoa mixed up with more spinach and topped with two farm fresh, poached eggs and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar turned out to be excellent (poached eggs on grains being something I picked up from our girl Lorna!). That evening, tossed with scallions, balsamic and extra virgin olive oil, spinach, roasted beets and a hard boiled egg, I had a filling & healthy salad, made with the couple of local veggies I've been able to find.

In the end, I had 3 meals and some snacking in between, all from 1.5 cups of dry quinoa, as it triples in volume when cooked. Try it out, mix it up anyway you like. Especially if you're alone and no one else has to eat it! After all, what do you have to lose but one fairly inexpensive meal. There is so much to learn & gain when playing with your food. Keep in mind, that most grains work like this, a blank canvas for your interpretation. No longer is white rice your only option. Now, what do I want tonight...


  1. haha, i love this! although, i'm not sure i would be able to stomach the breakfast version. Can you do a sweet style quinoa? like with raisins/milk/honey?

  2. Absolutely do sweet quinoa...cook it in milk and it's equally delicious. If you go a step further and cook it slow and a little longer in some cream, add vanilla and a little sugar, it'll be like dessert. A quinoa version of sweet sticky rice pudding. Yum!

  3. oh yes! one quinoa pudding that I do is to half cook the quinoa on the stove, then add coconut milk, cinnamon, and honey or agave. Cook for a bit until it's thick. Sooo yummy! :)

    Also-you can store plain cooked quinoa in the fridge for a few days and in the morning warm it up and prepare how you would oatmeal (brown sugar, butter, etc) or just add a couple of scoops to your oatmeal!