Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alex Runs, Joh Cooks, pt.3!!!

Posted: November 1, 2009 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Alex Runs Joh Cooks, cheap, Johanna, vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Just when you thought it was safe….. here comes another awesome and delicious vegetarian recipe, designed to help Alex run better, help her eat better, and help us fight cancer better. Please remember that for every comment with at least a name (that’s right, you can leave me the word “yum” and I’ll take it), I will donate to Alex’s cause. Her Half Marathon is coming up VERY SOON so we’re going to have a small blitz of recipes to keep her full and focused, and try to raise the donation total.

Vegetable Quinoa Salad I get really, really fired up about grains. I love them, and I love when they surprise me. Sometimes you read things about brown rice that surprise you. Sometimes, I order Barilla Plus multigrain pasta and it turns out to be the most delicious thing ever.

And then….. there’s quinoa.

Quinoa is basically a superduper grain. It’s high in fiber, it’s high in protein, it’s gluten-free, and it’s basically remarkable. The only thing you really need to know about it is that in order to get the most out of it, you need to soak it for a few hours in some water before you cook it. Otherwise, it’s easier and quicker to cook than rice, better for you than couscous (which is really just tiny pasta crumbs), more balanced than polenta, and delicious! Plus, it has a very interesting texture, and it’s super versatile.

To wit: I made Vegetable Quinoa salad. This isn’t really a hard-and-fast recipe, because you can change this up to fit what’s in season, what looks good, what you want to put in your vinaigrette, etc. Play around with it.

1 cup quinoa, soaked in cold water, and rinsed thoroughy
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 butternut squash, cut into cubes, sprinkled with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted at 375 until soft
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup kalamata olives (or other salty black olives) pitted and chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
Olive Oil
Balsamic vinegar (I used some lovely blackcurrant balsamic that I spent a fortune on but any type is fine)

Bring the quinoa and stock to a boil (covered). Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

Combine olive oil and vinegar in the bottom of a large bowl, season to taste, until you have a vinaigrette. You’re going to need to make a lot, because Quinoa will absorb a TON of dressing. Add in the squash, tomatoes, olives, and golden raisins. Season with salt and pepper.
When the quinoa has finished cooking, let it cool a little, and then toss it with a fork like you would couscous. Add the quinoa to the bowl with the veggies and vinaigrette, and stir to combine. Eat. Enjoy.

This is great with the quinoa still warm and the veggies all cool. It’s great with everything cold. It’s good to add to, because if you realize you need to use up your slivered almonds before they go bad, they’ll taste great in here. Have some steamed or sauteed kale or chard left over?? Toss it in, and enjoy. Like tofu or want some extra protein? Throw it in!

This makes a TON, and you can eat it for several days by fixing things. Plus,it feels light, so if you’re tapering you’re not going to feel guilty because you have a lead weight in your stomach.
The things I do for you…..
Comments = Dollars for Cancer Research!!! Hit it up!

11 Comments on “Alex Runs, Joh Cooks, pt.3!!!”

  1. 1 Mom said at 8:50 pm on November 1, 2009:

    this sounds yummy!!!!

  2. 2 Adi said at 9:50 am on November 2, 2009:

    Sounds like something that just gets better in the fridge. Those? ALWAYS GOOD. Have you seen extra-large quinoa? I was at a catered party and there was a dish with Indian flavors and quinoa the size of my HEAD. Okay, so really it was just baby pea-sized, but it was HUGE compared to the others I’ve seen, and I haven’t been able to find it. I really enjoyed the texture on that as opposed to the smaller one. At this point I’m wondering if it wasn’t quinoa but something similar, but huger. Ideas, my grain guru??

  3. 3 Johanna said at 12:56 pm on November 2, 2009:

    Hey Adi -
    I would guess one of the following:
    1. Israeli Couscous – these are close to the size you mention, and they have a chewier texture, because it’s baked wheat, instead of semolina pasta bits like regular couscous. Amazing and I love it. Could possibly be mistaken for mutant quinoa.
    2. Bulgur – bulgur is pretty much quinoa’s turkish, NON-G-Free cousin. Again, the grains are bigger and have a slightly different texture to quinoa, but are similar enough to be confused for mutant quinoa.

    Hope this helps!!

  4. 4 David said at 8:24 pm on November 2, 2009:

    This looks tasty! I’ve only made quinoa once or twice, haven’t come up w something I’m wild about but this looks worth trying. Have you tried faro? That’s 1 of my favorite grains of late, though it’s pricey so I only make it once and awhile.

  5. 5 Johanna said at 12:49 pm on November 3, 2009:

    David –
    I haven’t tried faro – what are your favorite things to do with it?

  6. 6 Erin said at 2:44 pm on November 4, 2009:

    Loved this recipe! I made it Monday and still enjoyed it for lunch today. I’d just have never thought to mix butternut squash and olives, but they are quite tasty together!

  7. 7 johanna said at 5:17 pm on November 4, 2009:

    Thanks, Erin! I feel like the squash gets really sweet when you roast it, and the olives are so salty, and the tomatoes bring the acidic pop and…. yum.
    Also – everybody should congratulate Erin – she ran the NYC Marathon on Sunday 11/1!!!

  8. 8 Jesse said at 1:31 pm on November 5, 2009:

    This was deeeeeeeeelightful. You’re really turning me around on chinois.

  9. 9 Jesse said at 1:31 pm on November 5, 2009:


  10. 10 leah said at 5:02 pm on November 5, 2009:

    looks yum. i always make WAY too much quinoa. need to remind myself i need about half of what i think. those suckers expand!

  11. 11 Bakezilla said at 8:18 pm on November 8, 2009:

    Quinoa is from Peru. The Incas ate it. And so should we.

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Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.