Greek Quinoa Salad

Greek Quinoa Salad
Serves 3 to 4
Can be Doubled| Can be Halved| Makes Great Leftovers

Sometime in early June, Mahir was beginning to tire of the usual lunches he took to work. He liked the poached chicken salad and leftovers I packed but was asking for something new. Inspired by summer and the mood to cook a meatless main dish that was light but satisfying, I came up with this recipe. Mahir loves Greek salad so I used that as my inspiration. Instead of leaves, I used quinoa, and I added chickpeas for some satisfying protein and fiber. I’ve had had trouble getting him to eat quinoa in the past, but he came home with an empty lunch box, and I’ve made it several times since.     ~Shivani

Ingredients:

1 cup of uncooked quinoa
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 medium cucumber, finely chopped
1 large bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup feta, crumbled
salt and pepper, to taste
fresh lemon juice, to taste

Instructions:

Cook quinoa as per package instructions.

Mix with all the other ingredients and season with lots of lemon juice and salt and pepper until the salad is to your liking.

Serving Suggestions:

You get in your protein, carbs and veggies with this dish so there’s really no need to add in anything else. You can substitute grilled chicken bits for the chickpeas for some variety.

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Chickpeas & Red Quinoa

Red Quinoa & Chickpea Pilaf

Chickpeas & Red Quinoa
Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side dish
Can be doubled | Can be halved | Makes great leftovers

This colorful dish can be whipped up in a snap, especially if you have chickpeas already cooked. I like to use dry beans which I’ve soaked overnight and cooked to my liking, but in a pinch I’d certainly reach for a can of chickpeas to use in this recipe. I’ve kept the seasonings pretty simple, since I originally made it for a client to serve alongside the moroccan chicken stew from last week’s post, but you could get creative and add all sorts of herb and spice combinations if you’re serving it as a main course (try adding a generous pinch of savory herbs like thyme and sage, for instance, or spice it up with cumin and a dash of garam masala). This is a great dish to take on a picnic, it’s just as delicious at room temperature as it is hot out of the pot.    ~ Susan

Ingredients:

1/2 cup red quinoa – cooked in 1 cup water till all water is absorbed
2 cups cooked chickpeas
3 large scallions – sliced
1 large garlic clove – minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
a pinch of hot chile flakes
1 teaspoon turmeric
sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped parsley

Instructions:

Heat a non stick skillet (or well seasoned cast iron skillet) over medium heat.

Add the oil and let it heat just until it begins to shimmer. Add the scallions and sauté one minute. Add the garlic and chile flakes and let it all sauté one minute more, making sure the garlic doesn’t actually brown by lowering the heat as necessary.

Add the turmeric and stir until well combined.

Add the quinoa, chickpeas parsley and about 1/4 cup of water. Season to taste with salt & pepper and stir it all together. Let it cook for a minute, if needed, to help the water evaporate, and serve!

Serving Suggestions:

As a main dish I’d love it over a bed of spinach salad simply dressed with lemon and olive oil.

As a side dish it’s great with grilled or stewed chicken, or even some simply grilled halibut rubbed with tandoori spices.

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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

roasted red pepper low fat hummus recipe

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Serves 2
Can be doubled | Can be halved | Makes great leftovers

We love hummus! I make all kinds of varieties with different flavors blended in, but this one is a great “go-to” for parties or guests. It has a gorgeous color ~ very appetizing when served on a plate surrounded by whole grain pita wedges. Most store bought hummus is made with crappy oils and a lot of them! It’s easy to make your own healthy hummus at home and it tastes so much better than the kind in the plastic tubs. The addition of the roasted red peppers not only adds a beautiful hue but also helps create a smooth, satisfying texture without having to add a lot of oil or tahini. You can double or triple this recipe and have enough to make multiple meals from it.    ~ Susan

Ingredients:

1 cup soft cooked chickpeas (I use dried, soaked overnight, cooked very tender)
1/2 tablespoon sesame tahini
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup roasted red pepper, chopped (the jarred kind is great)
2-3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (start small and add more till it’s right)
1 clove garlic – minced (or about 1/2 teaspoon dried granulated garlic)
pinch of sugar or a few drops of agave nectar
sea salt to taste
water as needed

optional – add a dash of hot red chile flakes, hot sauce or cayenne if you like a hot, spicy hummus

Instructions:

Make sure your chickpeas are cooked very soft, then cooled to room temperature – this creates a nice, creamy texture for the hummus.

Put everything except water in a food processor fitted with the double blade and puree, scraping down the sides to incorporate everything evenly

Add water in small amounts and continue blending until you get the consistency you like.

Taste and add more salt, lemon, garlic to your liking.

The sugar/agave might sound like a weird touch, but sometimes the little element of sweet really brings the whole flavor together. It doesn’t make the hummus taste sweet at all, just rounds out the whole flavor.

Serving Suggestions:

Serve as an appetizer or snack with whole grain pita wedges. Garnish the hummus with a dash of paprika and a parsley sprig for a nice presentation.

Make it a meal for two by serving 2 equal portions of hummus on 2 entree plates, surrounded by sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, red or yellow bell peppers, pita wedges, olives, maybe a sprinkle of feta, and a wedge of lemon.

Use as a sandwich filling!

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Channa Masala (spiced chickpeas)

low fat channa masala recipe

Channa Masala (spiced chickpeas)
Serves 3-4
Can be doubled | Can be halved | Makes great leftovers | Freezes well

I’ve recently begun cooking for a new client who was born and raised in India. We met when he and his wife came to our weekend dinner bistro and he tried my yellow lentil dal as an appetizer. He commented that it was “very authentic without being too rich or oily”. It was a slow evening in the cafe so we got to talking about my training in Indian cooking. Next thing you know, we’re all exchanging contact information and three days later I made my first batch of foods for them. I prepared six different Indian dishes – one of which was this channa masala – they all got rave reviews! When I cook Indian foods, I keep the traditional techniques in mind, but always go lighter in fat than what a traditional version would contain. This is my all-time favorite channa masala, I’ve made so many variations over the years, and now I’m done experimenting. This is my keeper! This recipe uses canned chickpeas for a quick prep time, but it’s equally good made with with 1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, drained, cooked until tender and then added to the recipe.  ~ Susan

Ingredients:

2 cans chickpeas – rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or ghee (Indian clarified butter)
1/4 teaspoon hing (also called asafoetida, at Asian/Indian markets)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons besan (also called gram flour*, it’s actually chickpea flour)
4 large roma tomatoes – pureed in food processor or blender
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger (I use a microplane)
1 medium jalapeno pepper – seeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne – more or less to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon sea salt – more or less to taste
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
fresh tomatoes, red onion and cilantro for garnish

* Not to be confused with ‘graham’ flour – they’re 2 different things. You can make your own besan by putting a handful of dried chickpeas in a clean coffee grinder and grinding them into a fine powder. Strain powder through a fine mesh strainer to sort out the bigger pieces and use the fine powder in your recipe.

Instructions:

Heat the oil in a little pool in a large skillet or soup pot.

Add the hing and cumin seeds to the pool of oil and let them sizzle for a few seconds, then sprinkle the besan (chickpea flour) into the pool of oil and let it cook just until lightly toasted (a few more seconds is all you’ll need).

Add the pureed tomato, ginger, jalapeno, turmeric, cayenne and coriander, stir together and cook over medium high heat until the mixture reduces by half.

Add the chickpeas, sea salt and the water, stir, reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Uncover, turn off heat, sprinkle in the garam masala and stir well to combine all the flavors.

Use a potato masher or the back of a large wooden spoon to mash about a third of the chickpeas.

Serve garnished with the fresh tomatoes, chopped red onion and cilantro.

Serving Suggestions:

Make an easy meal of channa masala by serving with brown rice or a traditional Indian flatbread such as roti, naan, or chapati, along with some tasty chutney (there are so many great all-natural jarred varieties, pick up a few varieties and keep them in the pantry until you need them, they last forever in the fridge) and a chopped cucumber salad dressed with yogurt and a pinch of salt.

If you’re avoiding grains, serve a simple mash of potatoes and cauliflower in place of the brown rice/bread. I frequently do this for us at home and we love it!

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