Quinoa with Dried Cranberries, Apricots, Sunflower Seeds, Feta and Coriander in Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette
When I moved here in California, I already have a preconception of the eating lifestyle of people here. I knew that kale, quinoa, chia seeds, goji berries, green juice, vegan, organic, farmers market, farm-to-table, sustainable food, wine country, artisanal, avocado and bacon are a few of the stellar ingredients and terms and phrases Californians are accustomed to in their everyday lives.
One of the first places my husband took me to was Whole Foods Market where I was blown away with the natural, organic, wholesome and fresh selection and wide variety of gorgeous ingredients which most I haven’t seen in real life (I just knew and saw ingredients like kale, quinoa, black truffles, etc. on television, but never met them in person <insert eyes rolling>) before. So I can honestly say that when I stepped inside Whole Foods Market I was culinary culture shocked.
I’ve been living here in Northern California for 3 years now and I have adjusted quite well in every aspect of life abroad and most specially in terms of gastronomy. I season my eggs and hash browns with black truffle salt, an avocado, an over-easy egg and buttered toast are my favorite breakfast choice, my kale, cannellini beans, tarragon and Spanish chorizo soup is the soup of my dreams. I am obsessed with micro greens, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs with white truffle oil is a go-to offering whenever I want to make my husband feel more loved in the morning, bacon is a staple in our fridge and we rarely run out of it, and Italian black rice and yes, (finally) Quinoa which I am very enthusiastic about to sort of replace white rice in my diet, now this is a big deal for me because I don’t know any Asian person (who grew up eating white rice 3 meals a day) who is willing to give up their rice for a fancy grain such as quinoa. Well, I certainly can’t completely eliminate white rice in my life but it is nice to have a more wholesome alternative.
This quinoa dish is wonderful as an entrée, a mid-afternoon snack or a nice filling meal on its own. This dish keeps for 3 days in the fridge and what I did was I portioned it and placed each portion in decent size microwavable containers for easy warming up to pacify sudden hunger for whatever time of the day or night.
1 cup uncooked organic quinoa
2 cups warm chicken stock (or vegetable stock to make this vegetarian/vegan)
Juice of 1 whole medium-size lemon
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup chopped dried apricots (about 8-10whole apricots)
1/3 cup shelled sunflower seeds (or pine nuts would be delicious too)
Crumbled feta cheese (optional, or vegan cheese) to sprinkle on top
Handful of coriander (chopped) to sprinkle on top
¼ cup lemon juice
2 Tablespoons honey
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Place quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse thoroughly under running cold water from a tap. Put quinoa in a medium casserole pot or 3-qt. Dutch oven and add chicken or vegetable stock and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, once the liquid starts boiling, immediately turn down heat to low, put the lid on the pot and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the grains are tender. Fluff gently with a fork and transfer to a mixing bowl.
Add all the dried fruits and nut to the cooked quinoa and dress with the vinaigrette. Season with salt and cracked black pepper. Sprinkle with crumbled feta and chopped or torn coriander.
•Set oven to 375°
•Slice pocket in chicken
•Stuff chicken with feta, spinach, onion, & pepper.
•Season (all seaoning I used are in a pic above)
•Bake for 45 min or until cooked
•Slice up all your zucchini & squash after rinsing them
•Place in pot with olive oil on a medium heat
•Add onion and diced tomatoes
•Sautee until soft/ to your liking, adding pepper & a seasoning of your choice
•When finished, top your dish off with parmesan or mozzarella cheese
Juice from ½ lemon
A bit of olive oil (1 tbsp or so)
A bit of cider vinegar or white wine vinegar (1 tbsp or so)
Salt and pepper to taste
Cayenne to taste
Add to spinach and mix it all together!
Guaranteed to keep you healthy and happy.
The Frisky Farmer
This nearly effortless recipe is a great one for picky eaters! It has tons of cheesy goodness and you can pick your favorite tomato sauce (I used Classico Roasted Garlic then added dried rosemary, oregano, & red chili flakes). You can really use whatever veggies you & your picky eaters like, I always have frozen broccoli on hand so I threw that in but spinach, cauliflower, or fresh zucchini would all be excellent too! Another great thing about baked ziti? It tastes great hot or cold so go ahead and pack a “muffin” some fruit, & a veggie side for an easy, healthy, satisfying lunch!
ps- I used jumbo sized muffins so they each hold one very tightly packed cup of yum. If you don’t have jumbo tins just use regular ones and recalculate the nutrition for the number of muffins you’re able to make. :)