Friday, November 16, 2012

Recipe: Warm Kale and Quinoa Salad

Kale and Quinoa Salad, is one of my go to and easier recipes that we enjoy.  I will say up front that I'm no professional food blogger so don't expect this. :) Which happens to be one of my favorite vegan recipe blogs.

If you're not familiar with quinoa, it's a seed that is cooked just like white rice. It has a nuttier taste than rice, and can be seasoned savory or sweet once cooked.  It can be used just like rice, in casseroles, in soups, etc.  Not only is it a whole grain like brown rice, it provides lots of nutrients and is found to have all essential amino acids which is super helpful to non-meat eaters. 

Warm Kale and Quinoa Salad
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cup water or stock
1 bunch of Kale, stems removed and chopped (about 4+ cups chopped)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup of stock
3/4 can of beans (I usually use black beans but white would be great too.)
1 medium/large tomato or 1 to 1 1/2 cups of cherry tomatoes, diced
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
cumin, to taste
chili powder, to taste

*I never really measure anything so all these measurements are estimates. Sometimes I add more or less of particular items.

First, I sauté the chopped onions and garlic in a large sauté pan with sides and a lid. Once soft (about 5 minutes) I throw in all the kale along with about 1/2 cup of vegetable stock, stir, cover and let sit for about 25-30 minutes. Until the kale is soft.  I stir often adding some salt and peper half way through.  

Once kale is simmering, I add the quinoa and 1 1/2 cups of vegetable stock into a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Quinoa sort of "pops" open while cooking. the seeds become translucent and there are "rings" from the seeds that break off. It's very difficult to describe, but if you've made it or while you're making it, you will understand. 

Once kale is soft, I add the beans and chopped tomatoes to the skillet, stir, and add the spices.  I probably end up using a minimum of 1 Tbsp for both the cumin and chili powder. I add more later once we are about it eat if I desire.

I then add the quinoa when it is finished cooking in its separate pot. Once all ingredients are in the large skillet, I stir well, let all the ingredients warm up together, and add more spices to my taste preference.

The night I made this dish, I paired it with an oven baked sweet potato topped with margarine and cinnamon sugar. 

This is a recipe I made up and proud of how tasty it was. Next time I want to saute some mushrooms with the onions to add even more veggies and flavors. Yum! 

Cooking vegan makes me have to think a lot more about how I create balanced meals. I have to think most about protein. Are we getting enough? What is the source? Etc. We don't want to be "junk food vegans" eating lots of carbs and processed frozen vegetarian meals.  So for each recipe I post, I'll break down for you where we are getting specific nutrients that usually are lacking in those who do not eat animal products. 

Recipe breakdown:
Protein- beans, quinoa
Starch/Carb- sweet potato, quinoa
Veggies- kale, onion, garlic, tomatoes, sweet potato
Fiber- beans, quinoa, all the veggies
Calcium- kale, beans
Iron- kale, beans

For all my meat eating friends, this would be a great dish to have on the side of chicken or fish.  I make a lot when I cook it.  It's great reheated as left overs or stuffing into acorn squashes or peppers. Give it a try! :)

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