Saturday, March 3, 2012

I am grateful for....

There's a restaurant near my house called Cafe Gratitude. The food is mostly raw but all vegan. I've eaten there a few times and while it's not really my thing some of the food is good and interesting. I could never get Mike to eat there-too male, too Southern, too tied to other modes of eating. I do love whole grain dishes with farro, quinoa, brown rice and vegetables. I found a recipe in Food and Wine that took its inspiration from Cafe Gratitude in LA and I decided to make it into something Mike would eat. I also tried to use items I had in my pantry or freezer only buying some fresh vegetables. Here's the link to the original by Gail Simmons.

The great thing about this recipe is you can use it as a guide and make endless substitutions in regards to the whole grains (farro, bulgar, wild rice), vegetables (cauliflower, chard, green beans, bell peppers) and different kinds of protein (tofu, chicken or canned tuna). Pick your favorites.

Quinoa and Brown Rice Bowl with Vegetables and Tahini my way

1 box Near East brown rice pilaf
1 cup quinoa
~2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large red onion, finely diced
3 carrots, sliced into rounds
1/2 jar artichoke hearts packed in water, drained and chopped
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
~5 ounces fresh spinach, washed and stems removed
1/4 cup tahini, at room temperature
1/2 cup combination fresh lemon and lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons warm water
crushed red chili flakes to taste
1 ripe avocado, cut into small chunks
Saags Naturals turkey Italian sausages

Cook the rice pilaf according to the instructions on the package. Set aside. Do the same with the quinoa.

If frozen cover the sausages with water, bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until all of the water has evaporated and the sausages brown. Do not use a non-stick pan.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the carrots and cook until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the artichoke hearts, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring a few times until the ingredients are well combined and the artichokes warmed through, about 2 minutes.

Add more oil to the skillet. Add the spinach, cook over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until it begins to wilt. Taste and adjust seasonings.

In a food processor, add the tahini with the lemon juice, garlic, warm water and crushed red pepper. Process until smooth and season with salt.

Mix together the brown rice pilaf and quinoa. Serve in bowls with the cooked vegetables, diced avocado and sausages. Drizzle the tahini sauce on the top.

This was really delicious and healthy. I always read the labels to pick sausages with a low fat %. This usually means I avoid the ones with cheese and pork in them and pick ones made from turkey and chicken with spinach or fruit for moisture and flavor. These Saags turkey sausages are very low in fat and very flavorful. They're also local. I'm a believer in reading labels.

I had the boxes of rice pilaf and quinoa in my pantry, the sausages in my freezer and an open jar of artichoke hearts in my refrigerator. I thought I had broccoli and only bought fresh spinach. The rest of the veggies I had on hand. I liked using up some things I have on hand and it made me get alittle creative with my substitutions.

I have some pilaf - quinoa mixture and tahini sauce left so I am looking forward to using it up. Mike enjoyed this and didn't feel like he was eating some "weird" health food concoction. I'm grateful for healthy recipe inspirations. Enjoy!

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