Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots, Broccoli and Tahini Dressing

5 Jan

Day 3: I’ve been Vegan for 3 days!

Third day and I’m sitting pretty! Ok, not pretty exactly, but I feel good. Haven’t had any cravings which totally surprises me. Energy is still up. And drumroll please… no alcohol since New Year’s. That part wasn’t planned, but I have been eating well and working out so much I haven’t felt like tainting it by drinking. Ha-ha I said “taint”. I even had a double ass-kicking session today comprised of Power Pilates then Bar Method. This was my 2nd Bar Method class this week and literally 5 minutes in, my thighs and legs were shaking uncontrollably. You know what’s worse than fat thighs? SHAKING fat thighs. However, it’s motivating to feel that jiggle and know I’m working the areas that need it. I’m going back tomorrow so hopefully will be a little stronger each time. I digress. Now that I’ve completely grossed you out, onto the food…

I need to go grocery shopping, but until then I had to whip up whatever was on hand. I’m “queen of the whip-up” thanks to a well-stocked pantry. I always keep canned no-salt beans (chickpeas, black, cannelini & red kidney beans from Whole Foods), quinoa (keen-wah), olives, frozen fruit & vegetables, tempeh, tofu and scallions. I’m asian, I require scallions and ginger at all times.

I was perusing 101Cookbooks and saw a Lemon-Scented Quinoa Salad that inspired me so below is an adaptation based on what I had available. I highly recommend the Tahini dressing and made it almost exactly as listed on their site. I will try it on salads, rice, and maybe noodles. Their site is an amazing resource, so definitely check it out when you get a chance. This recipe is a template you can use for an easy lunch or dinner. Simply substitute with any combination of vegetables, red onion or shallot instead of scallions, any beans, or try tempeh or tofu, take your pick. You could also toast pine nuts, sunflower seeds, pecans or walnuts. If you’re not vegan, this would rock with feta or goat cheese. Trust me, I was thinking that when I made it. I also recommend dousing with hot sauce simply because everything is better with hot sauce.

The beauty of this type of cooking is it’s not scientific. Don’t stress about how you’re cutting the vegetables, or the exact temperature of the oven. Just keep a close eye on your food and TASTE, TASTE, TASTE! If you taste along the way, the end result will be great. If you wait until the end, it’s often too late to make any adjustments. Many people always ask me, how long do I cook it for? How much do I put in? I often don’t have an answer because I do everything by taste. I put guidelines here, but if you are feeling ballsy, put your 5 senses to work to judge how things are going. What’s the worst that can happen? Take out? Have fun!

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots and Tahini Sauce

1 cup quinoa

1 1/4 cup water

1 can garbanzo beans (rinse before using), or dried equivalent

1/2 cup parsley, chopped (couple sprigs w/leaves picked off)

1/4 cup mint (8-10 mint leaves)

2 scallions, chopped (use white and greens)

1 head broccoli chopped into bite size florets

4 carrots peeled with ends cut off

salt & pepper to taste

olive oil

Tahini Dressing:

1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped

1/4 cup tahini

Zest of one lemon

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon depending on size and juiciness)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons hot water (just heat a little filtered water up in the microwave)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Set the oven to 375.

Peel the carrots. Cut the thin part horizontally into bite size pieces. I usually split the fatter ends of the carrots in half lengthwise and then cut them in half crosswise to make 1/2  moon shapes. Try to have them all about the same size so they cook evenly. Drizzle olive oil on a baking sheet. Put the cut carrots onto the sheet, sprinkle with salt & pepper then shake them around so they’re evenly covered. Make sure they are not too crowded. Crowding=steaming not browning. Same principle applies in pan cooking like sauteing.

Drizzle about 1 Tablespoon of oil on a separate baking sheet. Spread the broccoli florets on it, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and shake on the pan until all florets are coated. Pop both the carrot and broccoli sheet pans in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they start to brown and are tender. Be sure to check frequently, rotate the pans and flip the vegetables so they get even color. Taste, taste, taste! If it tastes the way you want to eat it…it’s done!

Rinse the quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/4 cups water to a boil. Add 1 cup quinoa. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 12 minutes. Turn off the heat, but keep the quinoa covered for another 5-10 minutes to rest and absorb the remaining steam. Try not to pick up the cover during the cooking process because you’ll let that valuable steam escape.

While the vegetables cook, make the dressing. I put all the ingredients in a blender to really emulsify and make the dressing creamy. You can also use a mini food processor or go old-school and whisk it. You could probably use a full size 7c food processor, but I’d recommend doubling the recipe or you may not have enough quantity to blend.

Consider reserving 1/2c of quinoa for breakfast tomorrow (mix it with dried fruit, nuts & soymilk as an oatmeal replacement). Toss the remaining cooked quinoa, beans, carrots, broccoli, parsley, mint, scallions, and half of the dressing. Add more dressing if you like and season with more salt to TASTE. Either reserve the dressing for a salad tomorrow, or if you feel it needs it, use the whole thing. Serve garnished with a bit of parsley and lemon zest.

Source: Adapted from 101cookbooks.com

Recommended brands: Eden Organic Quinoa Whole Grain available at Whole Foods

Deconstructed Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots, Broccoli & Tahini Dressing

And...constructed!

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