Friday, November 13, 2015

Broccoli and Cauliflower Herbed Quinoa

I don't know about you, but one of the reasons that I love going to Costco is because of their food samples.  On a good day (go Saturday, around noon, especially before the holidays), you can walk around, get some exercise, look at all the interesting new gadgets, and basically have a full course meal from sampling all of the delicious tasters lining the aisles.  Okay, so this might sound pathetic, but I actually really do enjoy this venture.  Not only can you find new foods for purchasing that you are otherwise too apprehensive to buy without knowing how it tastes, but you can also use these samples for your own cooking inspiration.

Prepackaged meals are typically a hit-or-miss both taste-wise and health-wise. There are definitely some delicious, rather natural packaged foods out there, but if you read the ingredient labels on a lot of them, you'll see a whole list of ingredients and gibberish that reads more complicated than a science journal.  Once in awhile, eating one of these science experiments won't necessarily harm you for the rest of your life, but it is definitely healthier to stick to pure, whole foods. 

This is where sampling comes in.  When you try a food that you absolutely love, check out the nutrition label to learn what seasonings and ingredients are used to make the dish.  Snapshot the label on your phone or write the ingredients on a notepad, then purchase similar ingredients and recreate the dish at home!  Depending on what ingredients you use, your recreated dish may be healthier and even more catered to your liking since you can spruce it up with your own touch.

On a recent trip to Costco, this kind of inspirational food discovery happened when I sampled a quinoa dish.  It seemed incredibly simple, but it was absolutely delicious.  I checked out the ingredient label, felt confident that I could make my own take on this dish, and successfully whipped together a healthier copycat version of the packaged food without the added unknown extras.

If you have a Costco or any other food stores near you that offer samples, take a visit, have some lunch, and gather some new cooking ideas!  In the mean time, try out my recipe for Broccoli and Cauliflower Herbed Quinoa.  With the use of fresh herbs, this dish is not only satisfying, but it is also light and refreshing!

What You'll Need (Recipe Serves 4):
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 2 cups cauliflower, chopped
  • 3 cups spinach, shredded
  • 3 stalks of green onion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp. basil, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped/pressed
  • 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • Pepper to taste
  • Large (emphasis on the large) pan with lid
  • Mixing spoon and measuring cups

What You'll Do:
  1. Spread the quinoa evenly around the bottom of the pan and pour in 2 cups of water.  Cover the pan with a lid and cook the quinoa according to directions.  My quinoa package said to bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat and cook for 15 minutes. 
  2. At around 10 minutes, toss in the chopped broccoli and cauliflower right on top of the quinoa.  Also, throw in both pieces of the halved garlic.  Once again, cover the pan with a lid to steam the vegetables and finish cooking the quinoa. 
  3. Once the quinoa is thoroughly cooked and the vegetables are tender, uncover the pan and add all of your herbs and seasonings including the parsley, basil, pressed garlic, and green onion.  Mix all of the ingredients together and place the spinach on top.  Put on the lid and let it simmer on low heat for about 1 minute or until the spinach wilts. 
  4. Then, sprinkle on some lemon juice, olive oil, and salt, and add a touch of pepper to taste.  Toss all of the ingredients together until everything is thoroughly combined.  Feel free to adjust any of these seasonings to your preference.  Let the flavors blend together by cooking the quinoa mixture for 3-5 extra minutes uncovered.  
  5. Once the flavors have set, remove the quinoa and serve it warm.  Since quinoa is a protein source, you can enjoy this dish on its own.  Otherwise, I grilled some basic garlic- and onion powder-seasoned chicken breasts and tossed it in with the quinoa for a complete filling meal!

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