Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Quinoa and Grilled Zucchini: The right way to feed an addiction

I’m not sure how it happened. For years I’d been happily noshing on brown rice, sweet potatoes and whole wheat spaghetti/orzo for my nightly dose of carbs at the casa de Diana Takes a Bite. It wasn’t particularly exciting, but those starches suited me (and my thighs) just fine. Then a couple years ago, I decided to channel my inner LA health nut and gave quinoa a turn on my stove top. I began enjoying it as an occasional visitor in my dinner line-up, but ultimately didn’t crave it like I craved a dish revolving around pasta (or steak).

Recently, however, a startling change has come over me. In an attempt to counterbalance my more frequent indulgences at restaurants and gelato shops across town, I’ve started cooking with the nutritional powerhouse more often. Not just as a substitute for brown rice in my stir-fries or as a side dish for baked chicken (that’s all kid’s stuff, really), but as the central focus of my meal.

First quinoa black bean salad, then quinoa with roasted veggies and eggs, then quinoa risotto...

I could go on, but I won’t. It’s painful enough already. My roommates are starting to show concern, my dad is upset that I’m becoming a quinoa-pusher, and my countertops are perpetually littered with the tiny kernels -- a physical manifestation of my affliction.

It’s hard for me to admit this, but I know it’s time. My name is Diana Takes a Bite, and I’m addicted to quinoa.

The realization hit me this Saturday afternoon. I’d just finished eating a big plate of my take on 101 Cookbooks' Quinoa and Grilled Zucchini recipe and was feeling rather blissful. Almost like I’d just eaten a big fatty piece of chocolate rather than a healthy lunch. I couldn’t stop thinking about how good it was, and how I wanted to make it again – though next time with black beans instead of the hardboiled egg, and with fresh corn instead of the frozen I’d added to the salad.

As I snuggled up on my bed to upload the pictures on my laptop, I started to do a mental count of how many times I’d eaten quinoa that week. I came up with five different times. In six days. Yes, different preparations, but still! Five times in six days?!

I immediately confessed my sins to the Twitterverse and felt a bit better after receiving affirmation that there are worse things to be addicted to (crack, porn, "The Hills"). I then proceeded to make quinoa for dinner last night and Sunday night. Because if the Twitterverse says it’s okay, then it must be okay. And while I'm on the subject, this dish, my friends, is more than okay.

Quinoa and Grilled Zucchini
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
Serves 1

¼ ripe avocado
1 tablespoon cilantro
½ garlic clove, finely minced
1 tablespoon plain Greek nonfat yogurt (I used Fage)
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons water
Sea salt to taste

1 hard boiled egg (or substitute ¼ - ½ cup black beans)
1 zucchini, cut into ½ inch thick strips
¼ cup quinoa
½ cup chicken broth (to cook quinoa)
¼ cup frozen or fresh corn
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds (101 Cookbooks’ recipe calls for pine nuts)
1 tablespoon goat cheese, crumbled
Handful of arugula (optional)
Cilantro to garnish

Combine avocado, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, yogurt, water and salt. Using either an immersion blender or blender, mix together until creamy and smooth. Set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare quinoa according to package instructions. When all the chicken broth or water has been absorbed, uncover and add in the corn. Stir together until corn has heated through, and then set aside.

Grill the zucchini using either a grill pan or a bbq. When just tender, remove from the grill and cut into chunks. Toss with quinoa, and then add the black beans or egg (depending on what you are using). Combine quinoa mixture with dressing to taste (there will be extra) and then place salad over optional bed of arugula on serving plate. Top with goat cheese, sunflower seeds and extra cilantro.


e*star said...

MMM...Okay I think I will just have to give this recipe a crack at it!

Jenn said...

I'm kicking myself right now for not having tried quinoa yet. I know, I know. I'm totally missing out. Grr... I really must get crackin' on it. Maybe this will be the first recipe I make with it.

Heather said...

yum! it sounds like the texture balance with zucchini would be delicious! i'll definitely have to try it!

Glad to hear you're getting your Berger cookie supply. seriously. i think they're essential for living. like air and water ;)

Elra said...

The dressing sounds so good Diana, of corse this salad will be delicious and creamy.

Diana said...

Esther - Do it! It's required of all members of the Quinoa Qlub. ;)

Jenn - You have to try it! I think this recipe would be a great introduction -- the dressing is amazing!

Heather - I am down to my last Berger cookie now - so sad! But my friend has assured me that she can always send me a box when I need a fix! Yay! I blame you for my obsession. :)

Elra - The dressing really makes this. I'm going to have to try it with other salads now too!

Cinnamon Girl aka Reeni♥ said...

I'm so embarrassed! I've never eaten quinoa! Your love of it makes me feel like I have to eat some. Right now. It's going on my shopping list!

The Duo Dishes said...

The dressing sounds awesome. That's the kicker!

Diana said...

Reeni - Oh my goodness! You must go out and get some immediately! Be sure to rinse it before you cook it though - key step in quinoa preparation!

Chrystal & Amir - I could eat the dressing by itself -- so good!

Food, she thought. said...

While I am more attracted to your quinoa risotto, I admit to a quinoa obsession myself. they offer quinoa on the whole foods salad bar, and whenever I have an office day, it is green salad with lots of veggies, a healthy dose of quinoa and miso dressing. nom!