Quinoa Pilaf with Strawberries, Jalapeño and Mint

Quinoa Pilaf with Strawberries, Jalapeño and Mint - The Clean Gourmet Strawberry season ends quickly after it arrives, so when it’s here I try to enjoy strawberries in every way possible- sweet or savory.  This salad is probably my favorite way to enjoy them.  A hint of jalapeño for kick, pistachio for crunch and the tang of lime and mint perfectly round out the strawberries.  I do recommend chilling a bottle of white wine before you get this going… Since quinoa is a complete protein, as well as a source of low glycemic carbohydrates, and the nuts/feta provides fat, this dish qualifies as a complete meal on it’s own or as a satisfying accompaniment to lean proteins or grilled vegetables. I’ve provided detailed instructions on how to get fluffy pilaf-style quinoa.  If you aren’t a perfectionist or are in a hurry, feel free to cook the quinoa as you normally would.

Ingredients: 1 cup quinoa

1 3/4 cups hot water

sea salt

1/2 quart strawberries, small/medium dice (I like to quarter a few for presentation 🙂 )

1 shallot, fine dice/mince

1 jalapeño pepper, fine dice/mince

handful fresh mint, chiffonade

handful fresh parsley, basil or tarragon, finely chopped

zest and juice of 1 lime (a little more than a tablespoon of juice)

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for kale

4 cups baby kale, or cut lacinato kale

fresh lemon juice, for kale

2 ounces goat cheese or feta, crumbled

1/4 cup whole pistachios

What to do: Rinse quinoa to remove the bitter-soapy coating called saponin (unless your quinoa says “pre-washed”).  Drain thoroughly and toast in 1.5 quart saucepan until dry and starting to smell toasty.  Pour in hot water and a pinch of sea salt, stir and cover.  Reduce heat to low and cook about 15 minutes, until a fork scraping the bottom shows no water.  Turn off heat and let steam, covered, for 10 minutes and then uncovered for 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and you’ve got perfect quinoa! Perfect Quinoa for Pilafs - The Clean Gourmet While the quinoa cools begin to prep other ingredients. Add strawberries, shallot, jalapeño, herbs, olive oil, lime zest/juice and a pinch of salt to quinoa and toss gently.  In a medium bowl, toss kale with a little olive oil, lemon and salt.  Top with quinoa mixture and garnish with pistachios and goat cheese.  Here you can either serve it nice and pretty with strawberry quarters and a little mint or just mix it all together. Strawberry, Mint and Jalapeno Quinoa Pilaf - The Clean Gourmet


Herbed Quinoa and Kale Casserole (Casseruola di Quinoa e Cavolo Nero alle Erbe)

This is what I make when I need to whip up something quick during the week.  We always have quinoa, alliums (i.e. onions, garlic, leeks, etc.) and eggs, and the kale can be swapped with another vegetable such as, zucchini, spinach or eggplant.  The one thing you should not swap is the white quinoa for other varieties (trust me, I’ve tried it.  There’s something about the fluffiness of the white quinoa that holds together and tastes much better in this than the red and black varieties), but feel free to play with the seasonings as well!

Herbs and Parmesan lend plenty of savory “umami” to this dish, so it’s a vegetarian (though not vegan) meal that your carnivorous friends will love too.  A dash of cayenne not only tastes great, but warms you up and strengthens those lungs and  blood vessels…perfect for battling nasty winter viruses.

Serves 4-6 

Ingredients:

grapeseed or extra virgin olive oil, for the baking dish

For the vegetables:

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 head Tuscan kale, stems removed and leaves sliced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced

2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

2/3 cup white wine (or broth)

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the quinoa:

1 cup raw WHITE quinoa, rinsed and cooked in 1 cup broth + 1 cup water

1 1/2  teaspoons garlic powder, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp dried ground thyme

1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling

2 large eggs, beaten

cayenne, to serve

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 2 quart baking dish (preferably with grapeseed oil, due to its high flash point).

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a medium-to-large pot and add the onion, garlic, carrot and rosemary.  Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, about five minutes.  Add the bell pepper, cook for about a minute, and add the white wine.  Add the kale, cover, and cook for 3-5 minutes, allowing the leaves to wilt and get relatively tender (do not overcook).  Season to taste with salt and pepper, remove from the heat.

Fold spices, parsley and Parmesan into cooked quinoa.  Add to cooked vegetables.

Fold the eggs into the vegetable and quinoa mixture.  Scrape into the greased baking dish (don’t smooth top if you like browned peaks, which I recommend), sprinkle with parmesan and place in oven.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the top is golden.

Serve while hot with a dash of cayenne!

Herbed Quinoa and Kale Casserole - The Clean Gourmet

Casseruola di Quinoa e Cavolo Nero alle Erbe:

4-6 porzioni

Ingredienti:

olio di vinacciolo o extra vergine d’oliva, per ungere

Per la verdura:

2 cucchiaini d’olio extra vergine d’oliva

1 cipolla gialla, spezzettata

4 spicchi d’aglio, tritati

1 grappolo di cavolo nero, tagliato coi gambi buttati

1 peperone rosso, spezzettato

1 carota media, pelata e affettata

2 cucchiaini di rosmarino fresco tritato

175 ml di vino bianco (o di brodo)

sale e pepe, a piacere

Per la quinoa:

170 grammi di quinoa bianca, sciacquata e cotta in 250 ml di brodo + 250 ml d’acqua

1 1/2  cucchiaini d’aglio in polvere, 1/2 cucchiaino di pepe nero, 1/2 cucchiaino di sale, 1/2 cucchiaino di timo in polvere

piccola manciata di prezzemolo fresco, tritato

manciata di grana, più dell’altro per spargere

2 uova, sbattute

peperoncino di Caienna, per servire

Cosa Fare:

Riscaldate il forno a 200 gradi e ungete una teglia da forno da 2 litri (preferibilmente con olio di vinacciolo, dato il punto di fuoco alto).

Riscaldate una pentola media-grande con l’olio d’oliva e aggiungete la cipolla, l’aglio, la carota ed il rosmarino.  Fateli cuocere, agitando spesso, finché le verdura non sia tenera (circa 5 minuti).  Quindi, uniteci il peperone, fate cuocere circa un minuto, e aggiungete il vino bianco.  Unite il cavolo rosso, coprite e fate cuocere per 3-5 minuti, facendolo avvizzire e tenerizzare (non scuocere però!).  Insaporite con sale e pepe, a piacere.  Spegnete il fuoco.

Incorporate le spezie, il prezzemolo ed il grana con la quinoa cotta.  Unite con la verdura cotta.

Mettete le uova insieme alla miscela di verdura e quinoa e mischiate, ma non troppo.  Versate tutto dentro la teglia da forno (non spianate se vi piacciono dei picchi rosolati, che consiglio fortemente), spargete con dell’altro grana grattugiato ed infornate.  Fate cuocere per 15-20 minuti, finché non sia rosolata.

Servite caldo con un pizzico di peperoncino di Caienna!

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Warm Spinach and Butternut Squash Salad

I took an eye-opening public class at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC a few weeks ago on preparing raw foods.  The class was hosted by the famed Renée Loux and everything was incredible.  Not only was it delicious, but I felt so clean and light, yet satisfied, afterwards.  There must be something to the theory that consuming living enzymes (that is the enzymes found in food not heated beyond 110 degrees Fahrenheit) can be more effective in supplying our bodies with energy and health.  I proceeded , of course, to buy the Renée’s  book, “Living Cuisine”, and have been looking to recreate that happy experience in as many ways as possible here at home.

As much as I loved the raw experience, I think it would be difficult to eat that way all the time (at least at this point in my life), especially in a Northeast winter while also cooking for a guy.  I do however, believe that I can incorporate raw and lightly steamed vegetables into the diet much more than I have considered in the past.  This meal is an example of an integrated approach to raw foods.

Serves 4-6

For the salad:

6 scallions, sliced (white and green parts)

1 yellow or red bell pepper, medium dice

1 cup curly parsley, chopped (not too fine)

4-5 oz baby spinach

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes

1 head collard greens (preferred), Tuscan kale or chard, stems discarded and leaves cut into 1-inch thick slices

1 handful raw pecans, broken into pieces

For the dressing:

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg)

1½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar

juice of 1 lemon (about 2-3 tablespoons)

2 teaspoons grade B maple syrup

What to do:

Whisk dressing ingredients vigorously in a small bowl until somewhat emulsified.

Place the scallions, bell pepper, parsley and spinach in a large bowl (the biggest one you’ve got).

In a medium-sized pot (preferably one that comes with a steamer basket), fill halfway with water and add a pinch of salt.  Bring to a gentle boil and add the squash.

After about 5 minutes, when the squash is about halfway cooked, add the kale or collards to the steamer basket on top of the simmering squash and allow to steam for about 3 minutes*, until the greens are lightly softened.  Remove steamer, check that the squash is done and strain together.

Give the dressing another whisk.  Add warm vegetables, pecans and dressing to the bowl with the raw vegetables.  Gently toss together.  The spinach should soften and the dressing should become fragrant.  Serve immediately while still warm.  (I served it with some leftover garlicky broccoli rabe and it was an awesome complement to this salad!)

(*If you do not have a fitted steamer basket, blanch the kale/collards with the squash when it’s about a minute away from being fork-tender.  Strain together.)

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“Cheesy” Kale Chips

Yes, I know there is a ton of recipes out there for these, but here is one similar to the version that Trader Joe’s produces, except a little less spicy and less “powdery.”  If I leave anyone with this unattended there won’t be any left for me, so it must be good! Right?

This is one of the very few times that I prefer to use a bagged vegetable over the fresh version.  I prefer the pre-torn, pre-washed kale in this case, as it’s key that the leaves are super dry in order to crisp up efficiently.  You could also use a salad spinner if you’re working with fresh kale, but sometimes I’m just lazy or short on time.

Also, I’m sure that if you have a dehydrator, you could use that instead of the oven, but I don’t have one and am pretty satisfied with the results from using the oven.

Ingredients:

1 cup raw cashews, soaked 1-2 hours in cold water (or hot water for 30 mins if you’re in a bind)

1 small red, orange or yellow bell pepper (4.5 wt oz)

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

3/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons Bragg Liquid Amino Acids

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil

2 bunches of kale, torn into large pieces, rinsed and spun in a salad spinner

What to do:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Blend all ingredients except for the kale in a mini food processor or high-speed blender for about a minute, until a purée forms.  The purée should not be completely smooth- visible cashew “crumb” is desirable.

Toss mixture with kale in a large bowl until thoroughly coated.  Spread the kale onto the two baking sheets.

Place in oven and bake about 90 minutes, until dehydrated and slightly crispy.  I like to toss halfway through cooking to promote even crisping.


Last-Minute Kale Salad

Last-Minute Kale Salad - The Clean Gourmet
This is a kale salad dressing I improvised when I came home from the gym starving and just ready to eat.  (Sorry, no picture as I ate it all too quickly.)  Of course, I didn’t want to stuff my face with my boyfriend’s chips and other tempting treats, so I whipped up a quick kale salad and it was actually quite good.

Wash and tear kale from stalks and break into bite-sized pieces.  Thinly slice half a red onion (shallot would work too) and place in a medium-sized bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk with a fork equal parts: flax oil, cider vinegar, Bragg’s liquid amino acids, lime juice, and a half part maple syrup.

Pour some of the dressing over the kale, add some salt and pepper and begin to massage.  If after about a minute some of the kale is still dry, add some more dressing.  (Any leftover dressing can be saved for future kale or non-kale salads- just be sure to consume within a few days as it contains fresh lime juice.)  Be careful not to overdo it and cause the kale to become soggy.  I massaged mine for about 4 minutes and felt that that was sufficient for me.

Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and feel free to add some halved cherry tomatoes and/or cubed avocado.  Serve!

Last-Minute Kale Salad - The Clean Gourmet