Crock Pot Chickpea, Lentil, and Butternut Squash Stew

Stew3It’s finally beginning to look like autumn in northwest Oregon. After a long, drawn-out summer of sunshine and temperatures in the 80s (not that I’m complaining), the mornings are getting chillier and the weather prediction for this week is rain, rain, rain. I have to admit that I love the crisp autumn weather, but after a day or two of rain I’m ready for sun again. I think I was spoiled with an unusually sunny summer at home in Washington, and I’m dreading all the the bleak, gray days to come.

The clear, cool days are my favorites. My college campus has a huge variety of trees, and this time of year is so beautiful. I love walking to class under a canopy of shocking red trees, or sitting on a bench and having a leaf fall onto my head. On my morning runs I like to look at all houses decked out in spooky Halloween decorations, and our little apartment is covered in pumpkin/ghost/witch/skeleton paraphernalia. Fall also signals the beginning of soup season, and I’ve been loving my little red Crock Pot more than ever!Stew2

This Chickpea, Lentil, and Butternut Squash Stew is the most perfect fall meal. Despite being vegetarian, it’s packed full of hearty protein and fabulous flavor. The recipe makes about 8 servings, and since I’m only one person I got to enjoy it for 8 meals. You’d think I’d get tired of eating the same lunch and dinner for 4 days in a row, but not with this stew! I actually looked forward to eating it again and again and was sad when it was all gone. The combination of chickpeas, lentils, sweet vegetables, spicy jalapeño and warm curry spices is wonderful, and the longer you cook the stew the thicker it gets. It’s comfort in a bowl, I tell you!

Last Thursday my car battery decided to die, and after a long day of racing back and forth between Les Schwab and classes it felt awesome to walk into the door to a fragrant slow-cooker full of hot stew. Sometimes a good meal is all it takes to brighten up a hard day. Add this fantastic crock-pot meal to your dinner repertoire! It’s great any time of the year!Stew

Crock Pot Chickpea, Lentil, and Butternut Squash Stew

Makes 6-8 servings

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

1 large carrot, diced

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon garam masala (or curry powder)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes

1 cup brown lentils

1 28-oz can diced tomatoes

2 15-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

32 ounces vegetable broth

Salt and pepper, to taste

Cilantro, for serving (optional)

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, carrot, and jalapeño for 5-7 minutes or until tender. Add in the garlic and sauté for another minute or so. Stir in the garam masala (and cayenne pepper, if you like spice).

Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker. Add in the butternut squash, lentils, diced tomatoes, chickpeas, and broth. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and top with chopped cilantro if desired.

(Recipe adapted from Eat Live Run)

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Quinoa Salad with Roasted Tomatoes, Chickpeas, and Tahini Vinaigrette

IMG_4035Surprising as it may seem, I do actually make food other than dessert. Behind all the butter and sugar, I happen to follow a fairly healthy diet. Of course I taste everything I make (my motto is everything in moderation), but most of it ends up in the stomachs of my friends and family members. Unless of course it’s something like these healthy Oatmeal-Raisin Energy Balls which I may or may not hoard in secret tupperware containers in the way way back of the fridge. Strange as it is, I actually get more excited about stuff like this quinoa dish than I do about chocolate chip cookies. Who am I?!IMG_4037

Now, before you lose all trust in me as a baker/blogger and toss me to the curb as a pitiful soul who chooses quinoa over cookies, you’ve gotta try this recipe! Then you’ll see what I’m talking about. With quinoa as its base, this salad is loaded with sweet balsamic-roasted cherry tomatoes, crispy roasted chickpeas, creamy avocado chunks, and nutritious baby spinach. Then it’s all tossed in a fabulous lemon-tahini vinaigrette–the recipe makes extra, so you can use it to dress other salads as well! My favorite way to serve it is slightly warm, but it’s also delicious at room temperature or straight out of the fridge. My family loves to eat this salad as a main dish for lunch or dinner, but you can also serve it as a side. Or you can do what I did and eat it straight out of the tupperware as a late-night snack!

If you’re looking for a fast, easy, meatlessgluten-free, and delicious dinner recipe, you have to try this! It’s got so many good things going on that I can’t pick a favorite…the juicy, almost caramelized tomatoes? The hidden pieces of smooth avocado? The slightly-nutty, slightly-sweet lemony dressing? Call me crazy to choose leftover quinoa salad as dessert instead of a cookie, but I just couldn’t get enough! The cookies can wait.IMG_4047

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Tomatoes, Chickpeas, and Tahini Vinaigrette.

Makes 6-8 servings

For the salad:

1 & 1/2 cups quinoa (uncooked)

1 pint (16 oz) cherry tomatoes

1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Salt & pepper

1 avocado, diced

2 cups baby spinach

For the dressing:

1/4 cup tahini

3 tablespoons warm water

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/4 cup lemon juice (from about 1 large lemon)

1 teaspoon honey

2 large garlic cloves, minced

Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook quinoa according to package directions. While the quinoa is cooking, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. When the quinoa is finished, fluff with a fork and allow to cool as you assemble the rest of the ingredients.

Wash and halve the cherry tomatoes and spread onto a lined baking sheet in a single layer. Add the chickpeas to the baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the tomatoes are blistered and the chickpeas are golden and slightly crisp. Cool slightly.

To make the dressing, whisk together all the ingredients in a medium-small bowl. Place the cooked quinoa into a large serving bowl and add in the roasted tomatoes, chickpeas, and baby spinach. Pour on as much dressing as you like (the recipe makes about 1 cup and I like to use about 2/3 cup). Stir gently to coat, then carefully fold in the diced avocado. Serve warm, chilled, or at room temperature.

(Recipe adapted from Tasty Kitchen)

Baked Falafel with Lemon-Tahini Sauce

IMG_6874In the little practically microscopic town of my college, there’s a Middle Eastern restaurant that I like to eat at on special occasions. I’ve been there three times throughout this year, each time getting my fill of fresh hummus and pita, chicken shawarma with red rice, mini falafel balls, and the most amazing almond cake. On my tiny island we have a limited number of restaurants, and unfortunately no Greek/Mediterranean/Middle Eastern cuisines are among them. Which is quite sad for all the stuffed-grape-leaf-and-tabbouli-deprived people here on the island, but it makes eating at this particular restaurant at college all the more exciting for me.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, and I’m hoping you won’t judge. Cause it’s kind of bad, as in it makes me seem like the laziest person ever. Which I’m totally not, if you happen to ignore all the hours I’ve clocked watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix in the past transitionary week between the end of school and the beginning of work. We’re talking zero laziness for this girl. Anyhow, I was gifted a food processor last Christmas (ummm, as in 2012), which I was super excited to get and had every intention of using at my earliest convenience, but…..but. It might possibly have stayed in its tight little plastic cover on the carpet of my closet for the past too-many months. And this might be for no good reason other than that I decided it was too much work to wash and put together and learn how to use with all its little slicing/dicing/careful-or-you’ll-cut-your-hand-off tricks. So it might have just sat there gathering dust and shame. But I’m neither confirming nor denying.

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The important part is that now my little food processor is happily out of the darkness and getting quite the workout. Earlier this week I made some energy bites out of dates, flaxseed, cocoa powder, peanuts, vanilla, and honey (which were an experiment, and aren’t quite worthy of posting on the blog–sorry!) and it played a major role in last night’s dinner. The theme was Greek, and the menu was miniature baked falafel balls wrapped in whole wheat pita bread with a lemon-tahini sauce and Greek salad on the side. These falafel balls are gluten-free, vegetarian, easy, and fairly quick. And most importantly, delicious. Just as good as a meal from my beloved restaurant, but a million times cheaper and substantially healthier since the falafel is baked rather than fried. The lemon-tahini sauce is the perfect accompaniment to the falafel balls, and when stuffed inside warm pita bread with fresh greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and feta, it was a regular feast.

Even though I’m kicking myself for not breaking out my food processor sooner, it’s better late than never! And if you don’t happen to be the proud owner of a food processor (or, you know, there’s one sitting in the floor of your closet because you’re a ridiculous lazy fool like myself), you could most likely make them anyway. Just be sure to mash up the chickpeas really well with a fork or potato masher, and use finely minced garlic, green onions, and cilantro. I can’t promise that the texture will be the same, but it’s worth a try! Because no one should miss out on these delicious little chickpea balls of goodness. No restaurant required!

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Baked Falafel 

Makes about 30 small balls, or 15 larger balls

2 15-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped

4 scallions, roughly chopped

1 large egg

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 1 large lemon)

1/3 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/3 cup oat flour (or any other gluten-free flour)

1 teaspoon baking powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a baking mat and set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, add all ingredients except for the flour and baking powder. Pulse about 40-50 times or until ingredients are well-combined but still coarse. Add in half the flour, and pulse several times to incorporate. Add in the rest of the flour and the baking powder, and pulse until combined. If the mixture is too wet, add in more flour 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is moist but still holds together well.

Scoop the mixture into balls about 1 tablespoon each. (Mine were quite small, so if you want more traditionally-sized falafel use 2-3 tablespoons per ball. You’ll just have to increase the baking time a bit.) Drop onto prepared cookie sheets and flatten slightly. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the outsides are crisp and golden-brown and the insides are soft but cooked through.

Lemon-Tahini Sauce

1/4 cup tahini

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon paprika

Directions:

Whisk all the ingredients together until smooth. Drizzle over warm falafel balls.

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(Falafel recipe adapted from How Sweet Eats; sauce recipe adapted from My Name is Yeh)

Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup with Spinach

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Despite it being mid-May, recent weather around here has been more of a throwback to winter than a peek to the summer months ahead. This weekend has been one of those gray, drizzly, what-can-you-expect-it’s-the-Pacific-Northwest type of weekends, which means digging my windbreaker back out from the depths of my closet where I’d hoped it would stay until fall, having no opportunity to work on my (slightly pathetic) tan, and spending two long days either inside trying to find something to do or outside wishing the sun would make even a brief appearance. The only thing such a bleak weekend seems to be good for is soup-making, of course!

During the chilly fall and winter months, my family eats soup, stew, or chili at least once a week, often more. There’s something so comforting about a large pot simmering on the stove, ready to warm everyone up. Even though it’s spring, I figured I’d take advantage of the ugly weather to justify one last soup day before it gets too hot. Not that I’d mind sacrificing my favorite winter meal for a couple months of nice weather!

This Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup with Spinach is always a good choice. Delicious, filling, healthy, and packed with protein and veggies, it makes for a perfect dinner, especially when paired with a crusty loaf of bread. This meatless dish is full of tender vegetables and garlic; hearty lentils; fragrant thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf; and sweet tomatoes. Note that the recipe makes a LARGE pot of soup, about 10 servings, so plan on lots of tasty leftovers. The soup freezes well, too, and makes for an easy thaw-and-serve dinner.

I guess there is a silver lining to dreary, overcast days. With a bowl of this soup, it’s hard not to be a happy camper!

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Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup with Spinach

Serves 8-10

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium white or yellow onion, diced

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

1 celery stalk, diced

2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 & 1/2 cups brown lentils

60 ounces (4 15-oz cans) vegetable broth

2 cups water

2 15-oz cans diced tomatoes

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried rosemary

2 dried bay leaves

1/4 tsp black pepper (more to taste)

1 tsp sea salt (more to taste)

2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, torn

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add in the onion and garlic and sauté for 3-5 minutes or until onion is tender. Add in the chopped carrot, celery, and sweet potatoes and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, or until vegetables are beginning to soften. Add in the lentils, broth, water, and diced tomatoes; stir well. Stir in the thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, salt, and pepper.

Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce to low and let the soup simmer for 35-40 minutes, or until lentils and sweet potatoes are tender. Turn off the heat and immediately stir in the fresh spinach until wilted. Taste for salt and pepper, remove bay leaves, and serve.

(Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

Roasted Vegetable & Asiago Frittata and Lemon-Roasted Potatoes

IMG_0284I’m not a big magazine or newspaper reader, but my family subscribes to the weekly magazine The Week, which I read religiously every week…if that wasn’t clear enough, I read the weekly magazine The Week every week. Hah. What makes it one of the few magazines I actually like is the fact that it has a nice variety of articles, not just boring news or endless celebrity gossip. I love reading through sections such as People, Film Reviews, Best Properties on the Market, Health and Science, and It Must Be True…I Read it in the Tabloids. One of my favorite sections is a tiny, quarter-page column entitled Only in America. It often features the most ludicrous lawsuits that make one’s faith in humanity fade just a leeetle bit.

Last week’s edition of The Week brought quite a stunner in the Only in America section. Apparently an Ohio prosecutor has filed an indictment against Punxsutawney Phil, who allegedly misled the entire nation by predicting an early spring that has yet to appear. Yes, that’s correct. Phil the Groundhog is facing the death penalty. While seeking punishment for our weather-predicting groundhog seems a bit over the top, to say the least, I have to admit that spring is certainly taking its sweet time to appear. Temperatures are still dropping into the 30s at night where I live, and the past few days have been gray and drizzly. If one more person utters the incredibly annoying phrase “April showers bring May flowers,” I just might lose it. I want spring, and I want it now! (But I’m not mad at you, little Phil.)

To make matters worse, last weekend we had a short-lived bout of beautiful spring weather. I’m talking sunshine, cloudless skies, 60+ degree days, and dandelions bursting up everywhere. I spent as much time outside as possible, running on the beach and sitting on my deck trying to make up for a long, sun-less winter. I should have known it was too good to last, because according to my favorite weather station the next predicted day of sunshine is a week from Tuesday. The weather gods are just plain cruel, tantalizing us this way.

I guess Dr. Seuss would say, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” Easter really was wonderful, from the beautiful weather to spending time with family. I cooked brunch for my family in the morning, which consisted of a Roasted Vegetable & Asiago Frittata, Lemon-Roasted Potatoes, and fruit salad. Everything was delicious, if I do say so myself. By the time everything was out of the oven and on the table we were all too ravenous to wait for me to take pictures, but luckily my brother whipped out his iPhone and took a couple screenshots. Good enough!

This really was the perfect meal for Easter Brunch. The baked frittata was amazingly quick, easy, healthy, and delicious, filled with fresh roasted veggies that can be made ahead to save time. The possible variations for this frittata are endless: you can use different types of veggies, more cheese, less cheese, crumbled bacon, cubed ham or chicken, etc. That said, I have to say that this combination of roasted red pepper, zucchini, red onion, garlic, and asiago cheese hit the spot…by the end of the day my family of four had eaten up every last morsel.

I’d never thought to roast lemon slices along with potatoes, but they ended up caramelizing a bit and bringing a big boost of flavor to the roasted potatoes. To make these extra-special, use Meyer lemons if you can find them!

Well, aside from last weekend’s sunshine it looks like you were wrong, Phil….spring has not sprung. At least not yet. Still, I hardly think the solution is to punish our groundhog. After all, he has to live with this nation-wide ugly weather, too!

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Roasted Vegetable & Asiago Frittata

Serves 8

1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

3 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into fourths

4 unpeeled garlic cloves

1 large zucchini, cut into 3″ x 1/2″ slices

1 small red onion, cut into strips

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

8 large eggs

1/4 cup shredded asiago cheese

Directions:

Arrange oven racks on lower and middle sections of the oven, and preheat to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.

Place the bell peppers and garlic onto one of the sheets and the zucchini and onion onto the other. Drizzle about half a tablespoon of olive oil onto each of the sheets and toss to coat. Roast the zucchini and onion on the lower oven rack and the peppers and garlic on the middle rack for 15 minutes, or until zucchini and onions are tender. Remove the zucchini and onions from the oven and switch the peppers and garlic to the bottom rack. Roast the peppers and garlic for another 10-15 minutes or until peppers are charred.

Let the vegetables cool slightly, then peel the garlic and chop all the vegetables into coarse pieces. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Spray a 9-inch cake pan with baking spray. Whisk together the eggs, salt, and pepper, and pour into the pan. Add in the roasted vegetables. Bake the frittata for 40 minutes, then sprinkle the asiago cheese onto the top and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the center is set. Let the frittata cool in its pan for 5 minutes, then slice into 8 wedges and serve.

(Recipe adapted from Ladies’ Home Journal)

Lemon-Roasted Potatoes

1.5 pounds small yellow potatoes

1 small lemon

1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wash the potatoes and slice into quarters lengthwise. Place the potatoes into a 9″x13″ glass pan and drizzle with olive oil. Toss the potatoes to coat them with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cut the lemon into 8 thin slices, removing any seeds. Place the lemon slices among the potatoes. Roast for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender and browned, stirring halfway through to ensure even roasting. Serve warm.

(Recipe adapted from Simple Bites)

Lemony Chickpea and Kale Saute

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On a cold November night in 8th grade, I went to the first showing of Twilight at our local movie theater. I had heard of the books years before, but despite my friends’ claims that they were amazing, they always sounded too dark and creepy to read. I mean, a 100-year-old vampire who falls in love/simultaneously yearns to suck the blood of a high school girl? No thank you. When the movie came out, however, my best friend (a recent Twilight convert herself) convinced me to come along. Not counting Harry Potter (which is lightyears above and beyond any other story I’ve read or movie I’ve watched in my entire life) it was one of the best movies I’d ever seen. I now cringe to admit this, but it’s true. I don’t know what it is about middle-school girls, an actor with big hair and a bad American accent, and vampires, but it was honestly a swoon-worthy movie for all my friends and me (and probably every other girl in the theater). I may or may not have gone to it three nights in a row!

I then proceeded to read through the four books in the series, loving them all. The following year, I read them all once more and counted down the days until the release of movies New Moon and Eclipse. It wasn’t until my second time reading the last book, Breaking Dawn, that I started to realize how weakly written they actually were. My mom had always had an issue with Edward, wondering what exactly his redeeming qualities were, and while I had unwaveringly vouched for him in the past I began to see that she was on to something. Even Bella started to bug me, with her weirdly deep, dark depression in New Moon to her annoying habit of washing all the dishes and doing way too much laundry. She just didn’t seem realistic, even though the author worked extremely hard to make readers think she was. By the time the two final movies came out, my Twilight-mania had ceased for the most part. I still enjoy the stories and characters, and would go as far as calling myself a Twilight fan, but I don’t love them anymore. This series is strictly in the friend zone. Note: all these opinions are strictly my own. I mean no offense to Twilight lovers, Twilight haters, or those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about. 🙂

Even though I have mixed feelings about the books I could never go as far as missing the final movie, which I saw back in November. Two friends and I went to dinner beforehand at one of my favorite restaurants. I ordered the Chickpea and Kale Sauté, and I may have enjoyed that dish just as much as Breaking Dawn Part II later that night! Crisp chickpeas, tender kale, garlic cloves and olive oil all topped with crispy shallots and tomato coulis made up this fabulous little meal. For some reason it crossed my mind when I was thinking about what to make for dinner the other night, and I immediately knew that I wanted to recreate this healthy and delicious dish. The version I came up with is a little different than the original, but equally as good. It literally took about 20 minutes, start to finish, and was the perfect accompaniment to our roasted chicken. Filled with vitamin- and fiber-rich kale, protein-packed chickpeas, tender shallots, flavorful garlic, and zesty lemon, this dish is a keeper for sure.

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Lemony Chickpea and Kale Saute 

Serves 4

1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium shallots, diced

6 cloves garlic, roughly minced

1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

1 head of kale

Zest from half a large lemon

Juice from half a large lemon

Directions:

Wash and dry the kale. Tear the leaves away from the tough stems and coarsely chop the leaves. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large nonstick pan. Add in the shallots and garlic and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas and salt and sauté until chickpeas are golden and crispy, about 8-10 minutes. Add the kale and pepper flakes (if you like spice) and cook for 2-3 minutes or until kale is wilted. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice. Serve warm.

(Recipe adapted from Live to Eat)

Black Bean & Corn Quinoa Salad

During the school year, my family has a “dinner night” system.  I’m in charge of planning meals for the week, assigning each person to 1-2 dinner nights, and doing some of the grocery shopping.  Some weeks everything goes smoothly, and we eat wholesome, on-time dinners made from ingredients that were already purchased and ready to go.  I would estimate that this happens about 1 out of every 10 weeks.  🙂

The majority of the time, the system is semi-smooth…but life happens.  My brother happens to *forget* that it’s his night for dinner until 7 pm, someone has already used up the ingredients that were meant to go into that night’s meal, one of my parents has to work late, or it’s just one of those exhausting weeknights when the energy required to cook dinner fails to be conjured up and we end up ordering Thai food.  Those nights are the worst!  (insert sarcasm)

When it comes to dinner nights, everyone’s style is a little lot different.  My mom prefers cleaning up to cooking, and though my dad likes to cook, limited time and limited energy lead to fast and easy weeknight dinners.   And as for my 18-year-old brother’s attitude toward actually cooking an actually balanced meal by an actually reasonable time for his family…I’ll just say that if it was between doing that and sticking daggers into his eyes, I’m not sure which he’d prefer.  Which leaves me.  I honestly enjoy making elaborate dinners (and just so we’re clear, a pot of homemade chili is considered elaborate when compared to some of the other meals that have graced our table) and my family looks forward to trying the new recipes I make and enjoying the old favorites.  The funny thing is, no matter what I make, if it involves more than 5 ingredients and about 20 minutes of cooking time they think they’re eating a gourmet meal and assume that I must have labored over dinner all afternoon.  They ooh and aah over almost everything I make.  It’s nice to have such a great support team, but sometimes their exuberance over, say, a meatloaf, makes me laugh.  I can only imagine the awe that would ensue if Julia Child offered to cook for them.  (Just to clarify, I’m talking about awe at her cooking, not awe at the fact that a deceased chef is standing in their kitchen.)

My point is that it’s very, very easy to impress my family when it comes to dinner.  Even if it’s a dish that takes 30 minutes to prepare with only 10 minutes of hands-on cooking, tastes wonderful, goes with almost anything, requires minimalistic ingredients, and can be served at any temperature.  Win, win, win, win win!  This Black Bean & Corn Quinoa Salad is so quick and easy to make, yet my family is always convinced that they’re eating a gourmet side dish.  I’ll admit that this may have something to do with them, but it may have even more to do with this fabulous recipe.  This salad is full of fresh, healthy ingredients that give the quinoa lots of flavor without loading up on heavy fats or salt.  It’s perfect as a side dish to highlight a simple main course, or you could even serve it as a main dish since it’s full of protein from the beans and quinoa.  I bet if you make this for your family, they’ll assume that since it tastes so good, it was a lot more difficult than it really is.  And then they’ll proceed to thank you for dinner about 10,000 times and say, “Is this cilantro?  How fancy!”  Or wait….maybe that’s just my family….

Black Bean & Corn Quinoa Salad

1 Tbs olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup uncooked quinoa

1 1/2 cups (12 oz) chicken or vegetable broth

1 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 cup frozen corn, yellow or white

2 15-oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion and sautee, for 4-5 minutes, or until tender.  Add the garlic and sautee for 1-2 minutes, stirring often, until fragrant.

Add the quinoa and broth.  Stir in the cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and let the mixture simmer for about 20 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is cooked.

Stir in the frozen corn and black beans.  Cover the pot and allow it to sit off the heat for about 5 minutes to heat the corn and beans.  Stir in the cilantro.  Serve warm or chilled, your choice.

(Recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)