Easy Seasonal Meals
I love fall--especially when sunny days fade from summer and pave the way. My favorite time is when crisp celery and the first squash of fall appear. ( BTW--The celery I got from Nash's farm last week was outstanding! ) But with summer fading, who doesn't want to get the best of the season before the season shifts? The last melons, eggplants, and red peppers--every year, I can't bear to see them go.
Peppers are high on my must-have list. I've heard that you can freeze the fire-roasted peppers from River Farm to make them last longer. Sadly, my food budget doesn't extend to preserving all my favorite in-season fruits and vegetables. And my freezer is already filled with berries, peaches and cherries, so I feel compelled to load up now with fire-roasted peppers.
Tom makes Chile Rellenos with the peppers. He's made them every fall for years too, and sure they're good, but I'm not a big cheese fan and I wanted a meat- and dairy-free healthy one-dish quinoa dinner. Plus it's World Farm Animals Day and what better way to celebrate than with an animal-free dish?
One dish dinners are my specialty. I'm good at them and I have a sneaking feeling it's because I'm a lazy cook. It's okay to be lazy. Really--my Cooking Assistant lives by that philosophy.
People tend to look at lazy as a negative trait, but living with hound dogs who are always referred to as lazy, I see the positive side of this word. Why not take short cuts and favor easy, recipes for lower budgets rather than the fussy, high-end, chef recipes? And I'm always wondering what would happen if I skipped this step or left that step out.
Sometimes my experiments don't quite turn out. And that's where lemon, kalamata olives or good balsamic vinegar comes in. Tweak till the end, if you have to.
This month, I put together some of my quick meal tips for Marlene's Sound Outlook. Check it out, if you want to hurry dinner along and get to the fun stuff in life. When I'm in a hurry I use as few dishes as possible. That's where the one pot meal comes in.
One dish --well actually two since I sauteed the shallot and garlic, but if you still want to cut time . . .
This week, I announced that we will eat light dinners from now on. I'll just say the concept didn't go over well with everyone in the house.
My Cooking Assistant may be going on strike sometime soon.
How a dish is born
I was at Whole Foods looking for quinoa and a store worker showed me this rainbow quinoa. It looks like a good product, but I've got to say I'm a sucker for this type of thing, I couldn't resist buying it. That's one reason I rarely go to Whole Foods. But the good news is plain quinoa will do. Rainbow quinoa would probably be better suited in a salad where you can see the different colors. The colors got lost in this dish and with so much flavor in it, I couldn't tell if it really tasted any different than regular quinoa.
You could also use any kind of beans, except black beans since they turn everything black. I keep some canned organic beans on hand just for times like this.
I had shallots and garlic from the market I found a sweet potato in my pantry. You could use a regular potato and carrots if you want.
Here's the recipe:
Roasted Red Pepper Quinoa with Sweet Potatoes and Kidney Beans
(Serves 4 to 6)
1 small sweet potato, diced
3/4 cup water
15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
3 or 4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, peeled and diced
15-ounce can kidney beans, drained
2 to 4 tablespoons salsa
1 large roasted red pepper, seeded and cut into small pieces
1. Place sweet potato, water, and tomato sauce in a medium saucepan Bring to a boil, then add quinoa. With a garlic press, press one clove garlic into the water, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
2. While quinoa cooks, slice remaining garlic. Heat a small skillet. Add oil, garlic and shallot. Stir and cook until caramelized.
3. When quinoa has absorbed all the liquid, add shallots and garlic, kidney beans and salsa. Stir. Top each serving with roasted red peppers.
Enjoy this meal with a green salad.
And don't forget who gets to do the "prewash."