Tag Archives: tomatoes

The Bonk-Preventer: Quinoa Tabbouleh

John and I have been mountain biking a ton lately, so I’ve been on the hunt for “power foods” to keep us from bonking on the trails. I’ve experimented with a bunch of different ingredients and the one I keep coming back to again and again is the magical, mighty quinoa. Packed with protein – the most of any grain on the planet – I find that it digests easily and provides us with plenty of energy to sustain us through long, grinding climbs through the spectacular redwood forests near our home.

Quinoa is out of this world, and it sort of looks like it, too. When cooked, each grain has a little ring around it and resembles a tiny Saturn. So cute! But since John thinks quinoa is only eaten by stoned, dreadlocked white guys named “OneLove YogiMoonglow,” I have to disguise the cosmic grain to get him to eat it. Lucky for me, the ever-versatile quinoa has no problem being a caped crusader.

One of my new favorite ways of preparing it is in a yummy tabbouleh. The focal point of this tabbouleh isn’t the quinoa, it’s the crunch of cucumbers, the zesty tasty of tomatoes, the cool breath of fresh mint and the tang of lemon juice. In this recipe, the quinoa easily takes the place of bulgar (which is what Middle Easterners traditionally use as the base of tabbouleh) and provides a slightly crunchy platform for the rest of the ingredients to take center stage and shine. John eats this all the time, but he has yet to discover that he’s eating quinoa. When our friends joke with him about Operation Carnivore Conversion and tease him about becoming “a quinoa-eater,” he bursts out laughing and emphatically declares: “I don’t eat it! That stuff is gross!” That always makes me snicker inside…or maybe it’s more like a devious Vincent Price-like evil laugh…but I digress…

Talk about versatile – we can eat this dish for breakfast, lunch, as a side-dish and as a snack. When we’re preparing for a long day on the trails, I break out the big spoons and we shovel down our quinoa tabbouleh. I’m happy to report that it prevents the dreaded bonk while we’re on long rides!  If you don’t know what bonking is, here is a visual representation for your amusement (John would die if he knew I was posting this, so this is our little secret. 🙂

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do!

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Serves: 6 as a side dish, or 2-3 for a main meal
From fridge to table: 15 minutes

1 ¾ cup water
1 cup quinoa
¼ tsp salt (plus some for finishing)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 -1/2 cup olive oil (preferably meyer lemon infused olive oil for a divine flavor – I get mine from http://www.11Olives.com and it is delicious!)
1 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Two Persian cucumbers or pickling cucumbers, skin on, diced
4 scallions/green onions, chopped
1/2-3/4 cup fresh flat parsley, finely chopped (really depends on your taste)
1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
salt, to taste

In a medium sauce pan, bring the quinoa, water and ¼ tsp salt to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook until water is fully absorbed by quinoa, about 10 minutes. Let stand for a few minutes then fluff with a fork.

While quinoa is cooking, chop all the other ingredients and squeeze the lemon juice. Once quinoa is done, transfer to a big bowl and toss with all the other ingredients. Start with 1/4 cup olive oil and add more to taste. Finish with a little bit of salt. Then go out and burn some energy!

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World Famous Bruschetta

Oh thank God, summer-fresh tomatoes are ripe on the vine on my tomato plants, and they’re all over the farmer’s market! There’s no better way to celebrate the flavor of fresh tomatoes than with this delicious bruschetta, which is the perfect marriage of flavors. It’s bright, slightly sweet, a little savory, earthy, tangy and delicious. Plus it’s got the fabulous crunch of crostini with the sink-your-teeth-into-it texture of fresh tomatoes. Yum! This is one of my secret weapons to help convert my carnivore husband into a vegan. It’s all about creating ultra flavorful, incredibly delicious dishes and this is definitely one of them. And it doesn’t hurt that this helps me put my tomatoes to good use. Since I planted 18 heirloom tomatoes this year (does anyone need that many tomatoes?!), I have realized two things: 1. it’s time that I face the fact that I have a tomato plant addiction, and 2. I’d better find a lot of awesome uses for tomatoes.

The only reason why I call this my “world famous” bruschetta is because wherever John and I travel in the world, I always make this appetizer for the new friends we make along the way. And it always inspires moans of joy…in every accent! Most bruschetta recipes call for you to make the crostini and put the tomato mixture on top, but since people pretty much inhale it, I’ve taken to serving the topping in a separate bowl to force people to make their own (which slows them down a tiny bit). Yes, there have been nights when this is all that John and I eat – we start with every intention to eat a complete dinner but we just can’t stop ourselves since it’s so tasty. The best part is that when I make this, it satisfies my carnivore husband so much that he stops fantasizing about having meat for the night. That’s an impressive feat for a dish! Hmm, I think I should rename this “Magic Bruschetta.”

Cimeron’s Magic Bruschetta

Serves: 6-8

From fridge to table: a little over an hour

2 cups chopped cherry tomatoes, tossed in a strainer to drain off extra juice

4 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2/3 – 3/4 cup yellow onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1 tsp dried oregano

freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 baguette, sliced into thin coins

Heat oven to 350. Arrange baguette slices in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with a little bit of garlic powder, or rub each one down with a half-sliced clove of garlic. Bake the bread coins until they’re golden and crispy, which can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on your oven. Then voila – you have crostini! Celebrate your awesomeness, then remove crostini from oven and put it in a serving bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the bruschetta ingredients well and refrigerate for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so if you can. Do not cheat and skip the refrigeration step – the flavors only come alive and set after an hour of refrigeration. Trust me on this one!

Serve the crostini in a bowl and the bruschetta in a separate bowl, then watch your friends and family vacuum it up! Or screw your friends and save it all for yourself… because it’s THAT good. 🙂

Fiesta Bowl: Veg Football Food for Meat-Lovers

The playoffs are today, which means that my meatitarian is looking forward to watching the games while eating “football food.” In the 16 years that we’ve been together, I’ve been unable to definitively specify what exactly qualifies as “football food,” but at least I’ve successfully discovered some key attributes. According to John’s taste buds, appropriate game-time snacks and meals are:

–       Hot
–       Saucy and/or gooey
–       Chip-friendly, preferably using chips as edible spoons
–       Super flavorful
–       Filling enough to be labeled a “gut brick”
–       Perfectly accompanied by beer
–       Accented by meat

When brainstorming a perfect vegan football food that would meet all of John’s game-time food requirements and for which he wouldn’t miss the meat (and which would only take me 15 minutes or less to make), a key gridiron strategy came to mind: run it up the middle. Translated, that means that if a particular play is working, like sending a running back through the middle of the line, keep doing it. It dawned on me that the same holds true for Operation Carnivore Conversion. And thus the “Fiesta Bowl” was born: a Mexican-style sauté of all of John’s favorite ingredients, which he can eat with tortilla chips used like spoons. And bonus: it only takes 10-15 minutes to make, it’s packed with fiber and protein and I love it as much as John does. It’s so good that it’s going to make it in my line-up of go-to meals, even after football season.

With the Fiesta Bowl’s fragrant scent of cumin, coriander and salsa filling up the house, now John is really looking forward to watching the games, as am I since I get to eat this flavorful food while enjoying “football foot.” (Whenever I watch a game with him, I get a foot massage. Life and marriage is all about compromise!)

Fiesta Bowl

Serves: 4

From fridge to table: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

1 very large yellow onion, finely chopped

5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp ground cumin

½ tbsp ground coriander

2 cans black beans, drained (Trader Joe’s Cuban black beans are awesome in this dish)

Handful of freshly chopped tomatoes (optional)

½ cup white corn kernels (optional)

1 16 oz jar of a fruit-based salsa (like pineapple-peach, mango-lime or raspberry-chipotle)

½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Cooked rice

In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, sauté the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent and turning golden. Add the cumin and coriander and stir for 1 minute to release the fragrance of the spices. Add the tomato and corn (if using) and sauté for 1 minute. Add the black beans and salsa. Bring to a boil and stir well for 3 minutes to blend flavors. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro. Serve in a bowl adopt hot rice and serve with tortilla chips. Enjoy!