Monday, September 20, 2010

Asian Mushroom Quinoa

I make a lot of recipes that I don’t share with you…either because they aren’t anything special or I figure most people wouldn’t be interested.  For example, I make a lot of grain salads.  Some type of whole grain mixed with a combination of veggies, fruit, herbs, nuts, and protein all tossed together with a vinaigrette.  And of course I eat it over a bed of lettuce…instant salad!  But I’m not sure the average person would care enough to read about these impromptu recipes.

Sometimes I use bulgur as my grain (the grain in tabbouleh).  Or wheatberries.  Or wild rice.  Other times I’ll use a small whole grain pasta (Israli couscous or orzo).  Lately its been quinoa.  I bought a HUGE bag of quinoa at Costco in Houston for SO CHEAP!  And now I’m using it all the time (and I still haven’t even made a dent in the bag).

I didn’t taste quinoa until I switched majors in college from pre-med to nutrition.  In my first cooking course we prepared this strange grain.  I don’t remember what I though about it…but it didn’t turn me into a quinoa eater.  Maybe because back then it wasn’t readily available in the grocery?

Years later living in Houston, I began my transformation into a foodie…I fell in love with Central Market and Whole Foods.  Two places that sold a prepared quinoa salad.  And I was hooked. 

But would I be able to convince others of the deliciousness of this grain?  Maybe if I told you how healthy it is?  And that it’s high in protein?  Or if I found an incredible recipe with flavors and ingredients that would make you eat ANYTHING…


That is the case here.  I think this combination of ingredients…onions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, cilantro, mushrooms, cashews, lime juice…would be good on ANYTHING.  And for all you meat eaters (Adam) you could add chicken or shrimp or even steak.

So if you don’t want to be adventurous and try quinoa, make this recipe anyway and substitute with a small shaped pasta…preferably whole grain.


Asian Mushroom Quinoa
adapted from

1.5 cups quinoa
3 cups water or stock, or a combination of both
1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil (canola, grapeseed)
1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and grated/minced
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
12 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms (shitake, button, cremini)
1 cup sliced green onions, both white and green parts (about 1 small bunch)
1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional, but recommended)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 carrots, shredded (about 1 cup)*
1 bunch of fresh cilantro, leaves minced
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 cup cashews, toasted and chopped

Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer under cool running water, then drain well (the grains are very small and will slip through a coarse strainer).

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add the quinoa.  Toast the quinoa, shaking the pan frequently, just until the grains dry, are just beginning to color and have a nutty aroma, about 4 minutes.
Add water or stock and a good pinch of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook the quinoa until the grains are translucent and tender and the germ has spiraled out from the grain, 12 to 15 minutes (be careful not to overcook). Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, heat a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add oil and heat until it just begins to simmer. Stir in the garlic and ginger and fry, stirring constantly, just until the garlic is golden, about 30 seconds (the garlic can burn quickly).

Add the mushrooms stir-fry until caramelized, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir the green onions in with the mushrooms and continue to stir-fry just until the green onions begin to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the fish sauce (if using), soy sauce, and vinegar to the mixture and stir or toss to combine, then remove from heat.

In a large bowl, gently toss the quinoa and carrots  with the warm shiitake-green onion mixture.  Add the cilantro, lime zest and juice, sesame oil, and cashews. Season to taste with additional salt if desired and serve immediately.  If not serving immediately don’t add the cashews…they get soggy!

Per serving (about 1 cup or 1/8 of the recipe) – 219 calories, 9 g fat (1 g saturated), 28 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 8 g protein  (exchanges: 1.5 starch, 1 vegetable, 2 fat; WW points: 4)

* I actually used leftover pickled carrots the first time I made this

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tomato Goat Cheese Tart

Tomato Goat Cheese Tart
This recipe was sure to be a winner from the start…how can you go wrong at the peak of tomato season (I made this a while back) with a dish that has both tomatoes and goat cheese?  You can’t! 
David Lebovitz, thank you so much for inspiring this meal.  
Now, I could have bought a pie crust from the store or I could have followed his recipe…but I wanted to up the nutrition factor a little with a whole wheat crust.  I’ve had a whole wheat olive oil crust bookmarked for a while now.  And as much as I hate to admit it…I’ve NEVER made a homemade pie crust before…I know!  It’s practically a sin!  So I went with homemade and healthy over convenience…but on a day when I’m in a time crunch I wouldn’t hesitate to use a store bought crust…not very often though…have you seen the ingredient list?  Not so great…
Ingredients: Enriched Flour Bleached (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Partially Hydrogenated Lard With Bha and Bht Added to Protect Flavor, Wheat Starch, Water, Contains 2% Or Less of: Salt, Rice Flour, Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Propionate (Preservatives), Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Yellow 5 and Red 40.
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The crust came together easily in the food processor (here’s a method for doing this…I didn’t follow this recipe though).  I’ll admit, when rolling it out it was a little tricky to work with…as you can see in the pics, the edges kept cracking.  Getting it onto the Silpat/parchment lined baking sheet was difficult too.  And while I liked the flavor, the texture was a little dry.  I’ll have to keep working on the “healthier pie crust” recipe.  Until then, I recommend going with store bought or your own tried and true crust recipe.

I decided on a free form tart.  I don’t have a tart pan…and free form is so easy!
The filling on the other-hand was incredible.  Dijon mustard provided a subtle background tang to the dominate flavors of the tomatoes (which I pressed on tea towels to remove some of the liquid and seeds) and goat cheese.  Freshly picked thyme and oregano added a final pizza like aroma.

Goat cheese (and generally other soft cheeses) are lower in fat.  And because it’s a tart you are only using 1 pie crust.  So the calorie/fat content of 1 serving (1/6 of the recipe) isn’t bad.  Serve it with a healthy side (a mixed green salad with a light dressing) and you are in for a great meal.
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All I can say is you should make this before tomato season becomes only a memory in the past…bland out-of-season supermarket tomatoes will not do this recipe justice!
Tomato Goat Cheese Tart  
Tomato Goat Cheese Tart
adapted from and Chocolate and Zucchini…2 of my favorite blogs

Makes 6 – 8 servings…serve with a green salad to make it a more filling meal
One unbaked tart/pie crust (homemade using your own tried and true recipe or store bought…or you could use the recipes included here…until I revamp the whole wheat olive oil version)
Dijon or whole-grain mustard
2-3 large ripe tomatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds and drained/pressed on paper towels to remove some of the seeds/juice
salt and black pepper
two generous tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, oregano, basil, chives, chervil, or tarragon 
4 ounces goat cheese, sliced into rounds

Preheat the oven to 425ºF*.

Place pie crust on baking sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat.

Spread an even layer of mustard over the bottom of the tart dough, leaving a 2 inch border on all sides.  Allow it to sit a few minutes to dry out.

Arrange tomatoes over the mustard in a single, even layer.

Sprinkle with some of the chopped fresh herbs, then arrange the slices of goat cheese on top. Add the remaining fresh herbs.  Gather the edges and fold them over to envelope the filling.

Bake the tart for 30 minutes* or so, until the dough is cooked, the tomatoes are tender, and the cheese on top is nicely browned. Depending on the heat of your oven, if the cheese doesn’t brown as much as you’d like it, you might want to pass it under the broiler…I did!

* It is recommended that you cook the tart in a very hot oven. You might want to check the tart midway through baking and turn it down a bit in case the top is getting too dark, before the crust and tomatoes appear to be cooked.

Per serving (based on 6 servings per recipe) – 214 calories, 14 g fat (5 g saturated), 16 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 6 g protein (exchanges: 1/2 protein, 1 starch, 1/2 vegetable, 3 fat; WW points: 5)