Hearty Quinoa Vegetable Medley Soup

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No apologies this time because I never seem to learn. So, let me just jump to what I am about to share – a simple recipe for an incredibly satisfying soup that I really, REALLY hope you all will try to make at least once – especially as the leaves start to change colors and the air begins to get crisp!

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I was browsing through the web looking for inspirations to use quinoa and potato in a simple, yet satisfying recipe. Yes, it was a weeknight yesterday, but since I was able to get home a little earlier than usual, I had a little extra time to put into prepping dinner. This is not an original recipe of mine. It just altered this a bit, but this is largely a Taste of Home recipe.

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All you need is a combination of your favorite soup vegetables and quinoa (any kind will be fine, but the tri-color blend I used was phenomenal) and voila, you can whip up this soup without much fuzz. Trust me, if you make it once, you are going to want to make it again (how about topped with a bit of crumbled bacon bits next time!).

Here is an amusing aside (or something to make you go what a fool!)!

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Addition of jalapeno was a great idea to add a much appreciated kick to the soup. Of course, this particular jalapeno happened to be a super spicy one. I am the type of person who tinkers around in the garden with bare hands, minces up spicy peppers like they are just little fruits and pulls hot pans out of the oven with just a kitchen towel or paper towel! Yes, I never learn and I have scars to prove Last night was a repeat of the familiar story. Just as I rinsed my hands (yes, no scrubbing under nail) after mincing the jalapeno, I must have promptly rubbed my left eye lid. Initially, I just felt a weird sensation and I wasn’t quite sure what that was. Then, I felt it – the much familiar burn of hot pepper smear! Ouch. Then I remembered the coconut oil in the pantry. Ladies (and gentlemen), if you ever experience a similar thing, just dab a bit of coconut oil (REMEMBER TO WASH YOUR HANDS REALLY WELL BEFORE APPLYING) on the affected area. Grit your teeth and go about your work for 3 ymin or so. It’s like a miracle, how the simple oil just eases away the burn!

Now, jump on to the recipe and enjoy this delightful bowl of soup for your next meal! I am already dreaming about enjoying the leftover for lunch tomorrow!

Hearty Quinoa Vegetable Medley Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 – 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup diced red pepper
1 cup chopped potato (I used russet for creaminess)
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (de-seeded if you prefer the soup mild)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 32-oz vegetable broth
1 cup 1% milk
1/4 cup light cream
1 tablespoon crumbled dried thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preparation
1) Heat a large stock pan over medium heat and dry roast quinoa for 3 – 4 minutes. Remove the quinoa to a bowl and return pan to heat.
2) Add the oil and saute the onion, garlic, carrot, red pepper, jalapeno and potato for 3 minutes.
3) Add the flour and stir in, breaking up any lumps. Continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes.
4) Add the corn kernels and the vegetable broth, cover and cook on medium low heat for 25-30 minutes till vegetables are tender and quinoa is cooked through.
5) Stir in the milk, light cream and thyme. Adjust seasonings with a dash or salt and pepper, as needed.
6) Let simmer uncovered for another 5 minutes.

Serving Suggestion: This soup can be topped with a bit of grated cheddar or a dollop of sour cream. For an extra indulgence, you can also sprinkle a few crushed tortilla chips.

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Quinoa Tabbouleh with Chickpeas

Now that the weather is getting warmer (although I wish it would just stay warm and keep getting warmer!), it is time to lighten up the meals a bit. And so enters quinoa – again!

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One of my earliest post is for a slightly different version of quinoa salad. This recipe inspired by a traditional tabbouleh using bulgar goes to show how versatile these little seeds are! Just have a container of cooked quinoa handy and you can make a salad, quinoa breakfast cereal or southwest quinoa patty in a jiffy.

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Although the veggies listed under ingredients are what I used for this batch, you can go crazy with your favorites. Chickpeas not only amp up the fiber content, but also make this salad more substantial – a plus in my opinion ‘cos that means you don’t have to rummage through the pantry for a snack soon after dinner. Dressing is very light and refreshing with lemon juice, garlic and a bit of ground cumin. So, what are you waiting for? Grab a large bowl and start tossing in your favorite veggies and quinoa!

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Quinoa abbouleh with Chickpeas

  • Servings: 4 entrée portions
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Ingredients
1 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa, cooled
4 cups of cut up fresh salad veggies of your choice
1 15.5 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
Zest from half lemon
Juice from half lemon
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, preferably freshly ground
Optional, Pita halves to serve alongside “tabbouleh”

Preparation
1. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, cut up vegetables, chickpeas, lemon zest and fresh herbs. I used broccoli florets, purple cabbage, cucumber and tomato.
2. In a small bowl, combine lemon rest of the ingredients except pita halves. Whisk to make a dressing.
3. Pour the dressing over the quinoa and other “tabbouleh” ingredients and toss to combine.
4. Serve with a pita half or just by itself. Salad will keep refrigerated for next day’s lunch.

TIP: Feel free to sauté the broccoli florets in a tablespoon of olive oil to develop the flavors.

Pan-Cooked Southwest Quinoa Patty

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Quinoa has come a long way from its humble beginnings! What used to be a trendy food item of the ultra-health conscious folks, has now become a near staple in many a household – thanks to its nutty texture, delectable taste and most importantly its high nutritional value!

I use quinoa in salads, as a replacement for rice for serving with curries, as breakfast cereal and now as quinoa “burger” or patty.

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You can season these patties with your favorite combination of spices, herbs and other add-ins. I prefer the spicy notes imparted by southwest flavors of peppers, cilantro, citrus etc. and so decided to make these patties with those flavors! I used minced red peppers and zucchini to the patty mix. Needless to say, these ingredients add specks of bright colors and also boost the nutritional value. Addition of cheese not only gives a nice taste, but also helps in the holding power of the patty. As you may already know, cooked quinoa is rather fluffy, individual grains. Even with mashed black beans, you will still need the cheese in there for the best texture. I did make a few without cheese. They came out great, but I had to be extra careful not to break them while flipping or removing from pan. Lastly, even with cheese, be careful handling the patties. They are a bit fragile but so worth it when it comes to taste.

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Lastly, you can use any type of quinoa for these patties (red, regular white, a combination etc). Also, you could substitute cannellini beans (or may be even navy beans) for the black beans in this recipe. Since I used regular canned black beans (not unsalted or reduced sodium), I could get away with just 1/2 teaspoon of salt. If you are unsure of the spice amounts, taste the mixture BEFORE adding eggs so you could adjust the seasoning. I did and boy was the mix delicious even at that stage! Would make a yummy dip baked with some cheese on top. Next time!

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The formed patties can be frozen. Just pan “fry” them straight from the freeze under a low temp so the inside gets cooked through without burning the outside.

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Pan-Cooked Southwest Quinoa Patties

Ingredients
2 to 2 1/4 cups cooked and cooled quinoa
2 eggs
1/4 cup finely minced red onions
1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper
1/4 cup diced zucchini
1 jalapeno pepper, minced finely (remove seeds if desired)
1 1/2 cups black beans, drained and rinsed well
3 cloves of garlic, grated fine
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil

Preparation
1. Mix quinoa and all other ingredients EXCEPT oil thoroughly.
2. Divide the mix into 10 equal portions and flatten on parchment lined baking sheet into patties about 4-5″ in diameter and about 1/2″ thick.
3. Place the patties in single layer on a platter and chill for at least 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can just chill the mix and form the patties immediately prior to cooking them. To do this, just take a ball of mix and flatten on palm of your hand and gently and carefully transfer it to the frying pan.
4. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add a tablespoon of oil. Swirl to coat and place patties in the pan.
5. Cook for about 6-8 minutes. Carefully turn the patties on the other side and continue to cook for another 5-7 minutes. Extended cooking results in a golden and crispy exterior while ensuring the inside is cooked thoroughly.
6. Hold in a warm oven or toaster oven till ready to serve.

TIPS:
1. If serving the patties assembled as burgers, proceeds as you would with any meat patty.
2. If serving at a later time, freeze uncooked patties after their initial “chilling” period in the refrigerator (for easier handling). Wrap individual patties in clear plastic wrap and store in a zip top bag or other airtight container. Pan “fry” frozen patties under low heat to help thaw the inside and increase heat to finish cooking and ensure proper internal temperature.

Citrusy Quinoa Salad with Edamame and Spaghetti Squash Strands

Citrusy Quinoa Salad with Edamame and Spaghetti Squash Strands

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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citrusy quinoa salad with edamame and spaghetti squash

Ingredients
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cups cooked spaghetti squash, loosely packed
1/2 cup boiled, shelled edamame
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup sliced green pepper
1/2 cup chopped tomato (or 1/2 cup cherry tomato, halved)
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove of garlic, finely minced/grated
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbls of chopped cilantro leaves (or more if desired)
2 tbls of feta cheese, if desired
Preparation
1. Prepare quinoa according to cooking instructions (usually cooked in twice the amount of water on stovetop or in rice cooker)
2. Combine all vegetables in a medium sized bowl.
3. Combine lemon juice, zest, olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk well to combine.
4. Add to vegetables and toss to coat.
5. Serve and sprinkle with cilantro leaves and feta chees, if desired.