Welcome To My Gluten Free Website!

Welcome To My Website!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Parmesan Quinoa 
With Tender Vegetables

This sweet little platter was a birthday gift from my niece Rachel and her sweet hubby Jared. This photo is of this recipe, but I cut it in half for two for lunch. As you can see it's still a substantial amount. We had no problem eating it all!
Quinoa is one of my very favorite things to eat. I almost love it as much as chocolate. Almost. Anyway,  
many years ago (that makes me sound so old! but I'm not) I was blithely shopping in our town's health food store and ran across this wonderful book called "Gourmet Grains" copyright 1993, by Candia Lea Cole.
I love this little book which is jam-packed with so many different grains
(and seeds), that I hadn't even heard of. I had heard of millet and even knew how to blend carrots, onions, potatoes, millet and seasonings to make a mock cheese sauce that was really, really good! So I picked up this book and leafed through it enough to be very intrigued by it, and bought it. It has turned out to be a tremendous value. I've probably cooked just about every recipe. Today I offer an inspiration of one of my favorites, with a slight twist of course.

When I learned to make the mock cheese sauce I was in a position of having to change what I ate, again. I was pregnant with my last baby-Chelsea and she apparently did not like meat. I became violently ill if I ate any which wasn't a good choice at that time. Just going about errands through town was a vile torture due to the smell from all of the fast food places (I just can't make myself call them "restaurants"), and real restaurants. I would have to take a washcloth or small towel to cover my mouth and nose (so I could breath through it and tamp the smells down a bit) . It worked pretty well. The quick resolve here was that I had to eat vegetarian. I couldn't eat meat nor could I stand the thought of buying any! Fish and chips was my go to choice if we were going out.

Our local Health food store started offering various types of classes, including vegetarian. So I signed up and went weekly to a really great experience. We learned all kinds of fascinating facts. Such as the reason to NOT eat margarine because it's only one molecule away from plastic. I had used Blue Bonnet up to this point, and after that night's class, used only butter. Butter, cheese, and small amounts of yogurt didn't seem to upset my ridiculous system, but I used them in very small quantities. And no I didn't drink milk. I've hated the taste and smell since I was a kid!

I had to eat a regular size meals while expecting my daughter Chelsea, five (5) times a day with something in between as well! You're probably saying to your self right now that I must have gained a ton of weight. Nope. Only 4 1/4 lbs. Period. Yes I did say four and a quarter pounds. Yes I had to take the gestational diabetes test, which came out negative. I always shoot in the opposite direction and am hypoglycemic instead. I wound up eating vegetarian for about 10 years with an occasional fore-ray of a tiny piece of meat, and I mean tiny. When I was at this point, I had progressed in being able to drive around town without a washcloth.

Not everyone was thrilled with eating vegetarian. Candice my oldest daughter thought she was going to die. So to be fair and counteract some of her feeling of loathing towards all things vegetarian, I let her eat meat at our families homes, if we went out to dinner, 2 hot meal choices of school lunch per week....just not at home for a long, long time. Poor baby. She good naturally ate many things that probably made her gag, but stoically swallowed it none the less. She waited usually to tell me after the meal how impossibly gross it was, but she lived!

Eating vegetarian was very easy for me. This reminds me of a funny little story that happened while I was in junior high school. When we got home from school we could eat basically anything we wanted, as long as we called my Mom and let her know what we ate in case she was planning on using that for dinner. So I had made my choice, prepared it and was in the process of cooking it. I dialed my Mom's work number and got a secretary who informed me that my Mom was out of the office. I asked her to leave  my Mom a note that I ate the zucchini. This poor woman nearly choked to death on her laughter. I stood there feeling totally confused. She said right, right, I'll give your Mom a note, but please tell me what "zucchini" is a code name for. I said, zucchini. She continued to laugh I'm sure even when we finished our lovely conversation.

So my ramblings have brought us to eating this vegetarian treasure, which for me is very easy. I do really like meat, but I can very easily make great protein substitutes into fabulous meat-less meals.

Quinoa is a near perfect meat substitute and is chock full of essential vitamins. One cup of  quinoa equates to:
                              Uncooked                             Cooked
Calories                       626                                      222
Total Fat                       10g                                     3.5g
Sat Fat                             1g                                       0g
Trans Fat                        0g                                       0g
Cholesterol                     0g                                       0g
Sodium                            8mg                                  13mg
Total Carbs                 109g                                    40g
Dietary Fiber                12g                                      5g
Protein                           24g                                      8g

(I've lined this ridiculous little chart up for an hour or better, but it won't! So it is as it is!)

The sodium amount went up in the cooked column most likely due to having salted the water which to me is a necessity. All in all the rewards for eating something so simple and easy is extremely understated.

I've cooked quinoa both in a saucepan on the stovetop, or in a rice steamer. Either way it comes out great. You will measure it like you do rice, 1 part quinoa to two parts water, or if you want the seeds to be easily separated try 1 part quinoa to 1 3/4 parts water.

You will need to rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer with cold water. Quinoa has a natural deterrent for birds and other animals to keep them from gobbling up all of the grains (it's really a seed). This deterrent is a bitter coating, which simply dissolves with rinsing in cold water. There are of course many companies who are rinsing them for you, although this step of most likely has been added to the cost. I just buy the plain variety that needs to be rinsed, and rinse it.

This past week was very physically taxing for my son, and I. Out of 120 hours  over a 4 1/2 day stint roughly, the two of us didn't sleep more than 5-6 hours each. Total. No kidding. He needed to have an ongoing EEG with sleep deprivation, which meant Mama had to be deprived as well. I would have to be awake to prevent the removal of test equipment which meant I had to match him minute by minute to keep watch. (The Lord only gives me what He thinks I can handle. I'm going to have a lot of questions when I go home!) 

So that entails the issue of "Hospital Food", hhmmm. I was dreading it so much that I packed us a "knosh" bag with crackers, fruit, CHOCOLATE, trail mix....which in fact turned out to be a really good idea. The hospital food was not tasty, for the most part. The kitchen staff couldn't answer any questions about what ingredients were in any of it except that the corn tortillas were made out of corn and that the apples were green. There you have it. There wasn't even a gluten free menu! So I wound up choosing the best I could from the menu offered which is the same menu every-single-day. Yum. 
It did offer a "make your own sandwich" kit. I tried to order it minus the bread, and was told that it came ON the bread. You just assembled it as you wanted. What? Never mind, no thank you. I thought I would be safe with scrambled eggs, bacon, and hash browned potatoes. Ha! The "scrambled eggs" were reconstituted from powder - why do they think one couldn't taste that?! Nasty! The bacon was okay so ate that. Then we come to the "hash browned potatoes". The "browned" color I do believe was from the bottle of no-flavor-gravy-colorant, and these beauties were also dehydrated in the beginning. One bite of those caused me to remove the foreign vile tasting pasty textured yuk from my mouth with a napkin and discard it. I just can't hardly wait for the "survey of care" to arrive in my mailbox.
I will give the kitchen staff the benefit on getting one's order delivered in time, they state that it will be delivered within a 45 minute window. Great! Now if we could just eat it...Unfortunately, in their strive to be timely in their delivery, they've shot quality and taste right out the window. 
I think that our future medically trained individuals, (which some go on to be dietary professionals don't forget), should have to eat the horrible glop served to the rest of us as a learning experience. Perhaps if nothing else was learned by that, they would make some dire changes!
What I wound up eating constantly was the "rice medley". I asked what's in it? She said, "rice." I waited a few seconds and asked if it's a medley isn't there something else in it? "Quinoa", she said. Great! I said I'll take two orders. Two orders barely equalled a cups worth. And she was right, the "medley" had only those two ingredients. Basically, 1 piece of rice to every fifty pieces of quinoa!
The rest of the food week for me besides ravaging through our bag of tricks, was to order fresh fruit, rice medley, cups of peaches (in it's own juice), corn tortillas with butter, and peanut butter. One can survive if one is forced.

Today I am giving you a delicious and wonderfully fragrant dish that I hope you will love. Feel free to change the vegetables to the one your family loves best. May I suggest snap pea pods, edamame, different squashes, etc. The changes are endless! You could very easily add chicken, shrimp, or lay beautiful golden browned fish filets over the top to serve.... Oh that makes me hungry!

Parmesan Quinoa With Tender Vegetables                 

Serves 4-6 as main course or 6-8 as a side course

4 cups quinoa, cooked, cooled and fluffed with a fork you can reheat it in the microwave before serving

1/4 cup pine nuts 
1/4 cup almonds, chopped 

3 cloves fresh garlic, smashed then chopped very fine
1 small red onion, chopped very fine
1 lb. fresh green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper cleaned, cut into strips and then into 1 inch pieces
1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
1/2 lb. fresh cherry tomatoes - halved, heirloom variety looks and tastes amazing, but any kind's good
1/3 + cup EVOO
1/3 cup melted butter
3 Tablespoons dried parsley
1 Tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup Parmesan cheese - reserve 1/4 cup for garnishing the top of the dish before serving

1. Have grains cooked ahead of time and all of the vegetables prepped before you start cooking.

2. Gently toast the pine nuts or chopped almonds in a skillet set over medium heat. Stir constantly until they are just barely beginning to turn a light golden color. You will smell them changing before you see it, so remove the pan from the heat immediately and remove the nuts to a cooler dish or they will continue to cook and scorch. Set aside.

The colors of the vegetables are so vibrant when cooked quickly.
3. Use a few paper towels and blot the green beans and bell peppers as dry as possible. In a large skillet over medium, heat 2 Tablespoons EVOO and add the green bean pieces and bell pepper, pan sear them like you were stir frying them in a wok. You want them them to looked golden and blistered. Remove from pan and keep covered.

4. You will want to cook the remaining vegetables just until they are tender. Add oil 1 Tablespoon at a time as needed during the remaining cooking time. Turn the heat to medium-high and add in the rest of the vegetables, herbs and spices, salt and pepper. Cover and turn heat off.
5. Melt the butter in the microwave. Reheat the quinoa for about 45-60 seconds, or until hot.
6. In a very large bowl toss the quinoa, and 3/4 cup parmesan cheese. stir the cheese in to coat all of the seeds. Add in the vegetables and seasonings, melted butter, then fluffing with cooking forks or spoons to keep it light. Pour out onto a large platter and sprinkle the remaining parmesan cheese and toasted nuts over the top.

Serve, and Enjoy!