Saturday, May 28, 2011

1992 Apple Quinoa Salad

What makes a salad a salad?  Is it the dressing? the greens?  I realize this a very deep philosophical question that will require many hours of pondering.  There are those who think salad is a bed of slightly browned iceburg lettuce topped with cubed ham, a mayo-based dressing, and cheese (don't forget the croutons!).  Still others think salad must actually be green and some even allow for salads of the fruit variety or those served on bars.  Obscure music fans think Salad is a pop group formed in London in 1992.

So while this dish doesn't necessarily have greens, it does have fruit and it does have olive oil.  It's a mixture of food stuff most easily eaten out of a bowl.  Some people would call it a grain salad and others (like myself) would go so far as to call it nutrient dense.  It's chock full of Superfoods:  Walnuts contain omega-3s (good for you fats) and help raise HDLs (good for you cholesterol).  We all know an apple a day keeps the doctor away and so do the immune boosting powers of ginger!  Much like that piece of chicken you may have on your plate, the grain in this salad is a complete protein.  Quinoa (KEEN-wah) contains a balanced set of amino acids, has high iron content, and is gluten free.  It comes in different colors and was also the name of a 1992 album by Tangerine Dream.  Because so much music trivia from the year 1992 can be associated with this dish, I decided to call it:

1992 Apple Quinoa Salad
You can eat this dish warm or make it more 'salad-like' by serving it cold on a bed of arugula.

1/2 cup walnuts
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup onion, diced
Quarter-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled & grated (use your cheese grater!)
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 large apple (Fuji, Gala, or Pink Lady work well)
A bit of lemon juice
1 cup frozen peas
Salt & pepper to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread walnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, until slightly browned and fragrant.
2.  In a medium sauce pan, saute onion in oil until translucent. Add ginger and water.
3.  Turn heat up to high and bring water to a boil.  Add quinoa, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer for 25-20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed and quinoa 'uncurls.'
4.  In a large bowl combine the cooked quinoa and the frozen peas.  Add salt & pepper.  Cover with a towel and set aside.
5.  Coarsely chop the walnuts.
6.  Core and dice the apple.  Pour a little lemon juice into the palm of your hand, and toss with the apple to prevent browning (be careful if there are cuts on your hand, it will sting!).
7.  Combine the walnuts and apple with the quinoa and peas (which should be the thawed by now).

Get cooking!  While your quinoa is simmering, let me know your definition of a salad.  Also, what else happened in 1992?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Herbed Tofu Pasta

Ever since my husband got a new job, our pantry has grown to hold an abundance of free, recently expired foods.  Fortunately, he doesn't work at just any ole grocery store, so the food he brings home tends to be local, natural, and organic (yipee!).  Earlier in the week, Travis brought home some recently expired Italian Herbed Tofu, which has inspired today's lunch.  After googling how much longer we had with the tofu before it went rancid for real, we stuck it in the freezer.  This tofu had already been pressed (the liquid had been removed) and marinated and came to us in a vacuum seal.  I'm guessing this was why I couldn't tell a change in the texture after thawing.  We were also blessed with some organic whole wheat pasta AND my basil is finally blooming out there on the patio.  What's a girl to do with herbed tofu, pasta, and a teensy bit of fresh basil? 

Herbed Tofu Pasta
10 oz grape or cherry tomatoes
2 tsp olive oil, divided
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 8oz package of Italian Herbed Tofu*
16 oz bag of frozen broccoli florets
8 oz whole wheat pasta of your choice (short & curly works great)
Crumbled feta cheese
Fresh basil to garnish (optional)
Salt and pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Toss tomatoes with 1 tsp of olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Spread evenly onto non-stick baking sheet.  Roast for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.
2.  In a medium saucepan, combine mushrooms, 1 tsp olive oil, 3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar.  Cover and cook on medium low heat until most of the vinegar is absorbed, about 15-20 min.
3.  Cook pasta according to package directions.
4.  Cube herbed tofu.  Place in non-stick skillet and cook on medium low heat until tofu starts to turn golden brown, about 15-20 min. Stir frequently.
5.  Cook broccoli according to package directions.  Coarsely chop into bite-size pieces.
6.  Add the roasted tomatoes to the mushrooms.  Using the back of a spoon, taking care to aim properly, burst the tomatoes.  Add the tofu to the mixture and continue to cook on low until all liquid is absorbed (just a few minutes more).
7.  In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, chopped broccoli, and tomato/mushroom/tofu mixture.  Salt & pepper to taste.  Serve with a dash of crumbled feta cheese and garnish with fresh basil leaves.

*Can't find herbed tofu?  No problem, you can make your own!  Tofu comes in many forms and is usually either water packed or vacuum sealed.  If all you can find is water packed tofu, you'll have to take a few extra steps (best if done in advance).  Drain the tofu and cut into 1/2 inch slices.  Cook in a non-stick skillet on low heat, draining off liquid as it bubbles out.  Once the tofu is sufficiently dry, marinate in good olive oil and dried Italian seasoning mix (you could also add some balsamic vinegar).  If you're able to find plain vacuum sealed tofu, just slice it up and marinate least over night.

In honor of our testy Knoxville climate, this dish can be served hot or cold.  You could even use it to top off salad greens.  One more tip:  when you go to savor your leftovers, drizzle with more olive oil (if eating cold) or sprinkle with a little water (if reheating in the microwave).  The tofu is very absorbent and otherwise your pasta may be a little on the dry side.

While your cooking, give a listen to this episode of On Being where Krista Tippett talks about flavor with chef Dan Barber.  Just some food for thought...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Here goes...

Hello there and welcome to Om Om Good, the food/yoga/life blog where I'll share recipes, meditations, yoga poses, frugal tips, food-sights (that's like an insight with food) and whatever else tickles my fancy.  Despite sitting at a desk all day at work and then teaching yoga at night, I'm always studying and learning and trying out new things.  I’m a teacher at heart, or at least a ‘passer on-er’ so I’ll be passing on my successes as well as my failures (i.e. there’s no getting around parchment paper; if a recipe calls for it, use it or you may lose half of your meringue cookie to a supposedly nonstick pan). 
I’m a vegetarian, so you won’t find any meat as you're scrolling around here.  If you’re not a vegetarian I hope you’ll stick around; maybe you’ll find some inspiration for your Meatless Monday menu or for help dealing with your pesky vegetarian relatives.

Make sure you check out the calendar over there to see when I'll be teaching yoga and for other yoga-type events; like this Saturday, Sangita Devi is playing at the Glowing Body at 7pm and it's going to be awesome!  Maybe I'll see you there.