Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cooking Scenarios

Scenario 1:  You are hosting a dinner at your house, and your guest is a vegetarian.  What will you serve for dinner?

Scenario 2: Now suppose your guest is vegan.  What will you serve for dinner? 

You get bonus points if your menu is also gluten-free.  You get points taken off if you say, “go to a restaurant.” Scenario 1 is more likely to occur than Scenario 2.  

(When we were first married and moved to New York City, my mother told me that I had some cousins living there and I should invite them over to dinner.  I planned an elaborate and delicious meal, with meat, milk, eggs all featured.  When the cousins arrived for dinner, that’s when they told me they were vegan.  Communication is key, and timing is everything.  I never contacted those cousins ever again.)

Part of this is my effort to have more meatless meals here in the Common Household.  But I also want to become competent at cooking some nice vegetarian dishes that I can serve to guests without embarrassment.  

Here is one of my recent vegetarian cooking successes: Asian-Flavored Quinoa Salad.  Four out of five in the Common Household liked it.  The Son wouldn’t touch it.  Older Daughter said it was the best quimby salad ever. To understand why our family calls it quimby, read this blog post.

The original recipe is from Weight Watchers.  Of course, I changed it, because that’s what I always do.  I hate orange marmalade, didn’t have rice wine vinegar or sugar snap peas.  Also, my husband is always complaining that I never make peas (the regular kind), which is not true, and this proves it.

The first time I made this, I grated the carrot and cabbage, which took forever and made a big mess.  I urge you to julienne your carrots, and to buy the coleslaw mix or slice your own cabbage, rather than hauling out your grater or other slicey-dicey / timey-wimey tools.  A knife is just so straight-forward.
Quinoa salad, before garnishing

After garnishing with green onions and cilantro.  Sesame seeds on the side.

The second time I made it, I skipped the sesame seeds, and put mandarin oranges decoratively on top.  I also used multi-colored quinoa because I didn’t have the regular kind.  I am pretty sure this recipe is gluten-free, although I did not check the contents of the canned/jarred ingredients for gluten. 

Second try with multi-colored quinoa and mandarin oranges
Both times I used pre-rinsed quinoa.  I have found that this brand tastes better than the grocery store brand.  Maybe that’s because the grocery store kind wasn’t pre-rinsed and I didn’t know any better.

Quimby! High in protein and gluten free!

Asian-Flavored Quinoa Salad

Serves 4.
(I listed the original WW ingredient in italics). 

1 1/2 cup(s) canned vegetable broth, or water (or chicken broth)
3/4 cup(s) uncooked quinoa, *
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar (or rice wine vinegar)
2 Tbsp apricot preserves (or orange marmalade)
2 tsp dark sesame oil
1 Tbsp ginger root, fresh, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup frozen peas (uncooked sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved)
1 cup julienned or shredded carrot
1 cup premixed coleslaw mix or shredded vegetables or slice your own red cabbage
1 small sweet red pepper, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp cilantro, fresh, chopped
2 Tbsp uncooked scallion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

In a small saucepan, combine broth and quinoa; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, marmalade, oil, ginger and salt; set aside.

After quinoa has cooked for 10 minutes, toss in snap peas to partially steam them; cover and simmer until most of liquid has been absorbed, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and stir in carrots, cabbage, peppers and dressing; mix to thoroughly combine.

Garnish with cilantro, scallions and sesame seeds. Serve warm, room temperature or chilled. Yields about 1 heaping cup per serving.  6 PointsPlus per serving.

*Check the box of quinoa you bought to see if it has been "prerinsed". If not, rinse the quinoa in a colander before cooking to remove its bitter outer coating.

Use prepackaged coleslaw mix or shredded vegetables to speed the preparation of this dish.


Cassi Renee said...

Sounds like an excellent salad. Before I got married, most of my meals were vegetarian. Never vegan, though --I just refuse to go there. Just go eat some grass :-)

The Moosewood series of cookbooks were always in use --Sundays at Moosewood was one of my favorites.

Suburban Correspondent said...

I was going to suggest Moosewood, also! And you can check out The Vegetarian Kitchen (among other books) by Lorna Sass - she does vegan.

smalltownme said...

Before I read further than the first few lines of this post, I thought of QUINOA!

Tacos are always fantastic, delicious with or without meat/cheese, and gluten free with corn tortillas.

Angie said...

Sounds delicious!

Jay said...

I keep meaning to try cooking with quinoa but haven't yet. I love a mushroom and chickpea curry with rice, not sure it it's gluten free as well though!

The Crislers said...

That's some pretty food! I have several friends who eat gluten-free, and man. It's a pain to have them over. I usually make a big frittata with diced sausage, cheese, and veggies in it when they're coming for supper. Vegetarian... a potato or corn chowder with crusty bread. Vegan... no clue whatsoever.