Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Vegan Black Bean Quinoa Mango Salad w/ Wilted Kale

My dad is in Scotland now on a serious golf trip. And of course my mom and I miss him, but it's nice to have a little more room for experimentation in cooking. Not that he's not adventurous, he is totally. But he doesn't always feed into the organic, natural, sometimes no meat is ok mindset. He'll try it, but at the end of the day he does enjoy the more traditional fare. So, on Sunday, I decided to try a little something to test on the guy when he gets home...and I think we have a winner...

Yum. Seriously. Yum. We had company for dinner last Wednesday and my mom made an amazing mango chutney by combining a pre-made chutney with some other ingredients - it was fabuliscious. We had a mango that needed to be used ASAP so I thought, why not combine the two? Done.

Then it was simply a matter of pairing. Black beans and mango? Yes please. Quinoa is an awesome substitute for rice because it is PACKED with protein and great for digestion. So there, main dish done. Now how about them greens?

We also had some kale that needed to be used and my mom suggested throwing in the red onion too (because no one likes rotten red onions..)

So here it is, a deliciously light summer meal that I'm pretty sure will be dad approved (might take some convincing for Marco though...)

Black Bean Quinoa Mango Salad
serves 2-4 

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 can whole organic black beans (rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup homemade mango chutney with add-ins (this is the recipe my mom used: Mar-a-Lago Pear Chutney, plus peach jelly) 
  • 1 whole mango, chopped
  • 1 whole avocado chopped
Cook quinoa according to package directions (usually 1 cup water to 1/2 cup quinoa). Set aside to cool when done cooking. While it is cooling do this...

Wilted Kale
serves 2
  • 2 cups baby kale, rinsed
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup virgin organic coconut oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
Heat oil over medium-low heat in large saucepan. Add in chopped garlic and sauté until lightly browned. Throw in onions and kale. Stir gently until everything is coated with oil. Lower heat to low and cover pan. Let simmer on low for about 5-10 minutes until kale is wilted, but not soggy. Remove from heat and set aside.

Before serving, mix black beans, mango, avocado, and chutney into the the quinoa. 

Serve like this..or not. But it's really pretty if you do it like this so you should...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ratatouille: Beyond the Vegetables

No, I'm not referring to the adorable Pixar film. I am talking about the dish itself - that delightfully rich and wonderful combination of eggplant, zucchini, onions, tomatoes, and peppers. Looking at it on a plate, one might think that the process is simple - a little sauté and BAM! there you have it. That's what I thought. Until one day as I was browsing some other food blogs (again, Foodgawker...the ultimate food-lover's distraction) and found a site with Julia Child's ratatouille recipe. Being a lover of 1) Julia Child, 2) all things French (sorry Marco, you'll just have to get used to it...), 3) cooking, 4) vegetables (again'll learn to love them I promise), I of course clicked on over to read the claimed official recipe. Oh la, la, la, la...Julia!!!! It is one of the LONGEST cooking processes I've ever seen in my life. I nearly clicked away, but then paused and suddenly had a seriously ridiculous desire to conquer this recipe. That was that. I would make Julia Child's Ratatouille.

The next morning, I walked to the local Farmer's Market in downtown Modesto and picked up the ingredients I needed - I modified the quantity for one (think nice dinner salad size). My plan was to make it that afternoon, but life happened as always and it would be put off for a few more days. Finally, Ratatouille day came and I began the process around noon - noon:30...and finished around 2:30. Yes, that's right. Two full hours dedicated to the creation of what appears on a plate to be a simple concoction of sautéed vegetables. The whole time I was cooking, with my Pandora playing a delightful compilation, I kept thinking about how I would create this blog post. The idea that kept flashing in my head? Ratatouille and a Lesson in Patience. Because, trust me, you've gotta have the latter if you're going to conquer the former. Before I go any further, here's the recipe source and pictures of my process...

(quantities adjusted)

my interpretation of how to cut the eggplant and zucchini

 green bell peppers and yellow onions sautéing 

tomatoes (peeled, de-seeded, de-juiced) in with onions and peppers

all the veggies cookin' together

final product (plus own addition just because...)

To give you a nice little time frame, I made this about a week and a half ago. I've been wanting to post, thinking about posting, but just hadn't done it yet. Until today. This morning I was reading in Luke 10, and at the end came to verses 41-42...

"'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'" 

To give some context, Martha and Mary were sisters whom Jesus went to visit. Martha was busy with certain necessary preparations, while Mary sat at Jesus' feet and listened to him talk. Simply listened - that's all. She just enjoyed his company and his teachings and his stories. And honestly, I have read this verse a million times over and it has been a consistent reminder to me when I start to allow stress and worry to overshadow everything else going on in my life. But, every time I do read this verse, something different is going on. Some other stress or worry has made its way into things giving me strange dreams, an overeagerness to plan and write everything down, and then the desire to turn and run away when I actually look at the schedule I've just made.

I think Mary had it right though... Which is funny to say considering my last post was about taking action. However, Mary did take action eventually. Her time would come to be proactive. To run to Jesus, to beg and plead for her brother's sake, to tell others of Jesus whereabouts - to be an advocate and witness. But first, she chose to listen. She chose to invest her time into what would be more beneficial and helpful in the long run.

Things are kind of crazy right now - I am back into preparations for the road to Italy again, potentially and hopefully to stay this time, but definitely for the school again in 2013 (to get more info go here - Incarnate - 2013... I'll be sending out my own email newsletter soon). I've started seriously dancing again with rehearsals and workshops now and classes starting soon. September will be full with performances, rehearsals, classes, starting a new job, Marco coming to visit, and continuing the preparations for Italy. Someone get me a bed, seriously strong sleep meds, and wake me up when it's done! Oh but wait, life doesn't happen like that, huh?

Enter Mary.

Girl sat down and listened. She ceased from doing. She invested her time. She enjoyed the process. It's so simple.

But we get impatient because we don't have just the right answer for every single thing in life. So we rush, make stuff up and complicate the whole of it. Sometimes action is what is required. Sometimes we need a Mary...or in my case a Julia.

So take the time. Make the ratatouille. Taste and see that the Lord is Good.