Mediterranean Quinoa

For work I go to Padova, a nearby city, a couple times a week and so I have to think of easy, portable meals to take with me. There are a few criteria that these meals must meet:

1) Stand up to 1-hour train rides and hot weather

2) Healthy and not leave me weighed down for work. It’s hard to translate while lethargic and stuffed to the brim.

3) Delicious and easy to prepare

This scrumptious quinoa dish meets all of these requirements, and quinoa is really just my favorite grain, but feel free to sub in your favorite ( I think that farro, millet or orzo pasta would work well here.) Roasting the onions and cherry tomatoes imparts a sweet caramelization to them and the sprinkle of olives and shavings of grana adds another dimension to the dish, contrasting nicely with the sweet roasted vegetables.

To note: sorry about the bougie (haha- dafina!) mention of the specific type of olive (taggiasca), but these are really delicious and if you find them in a specialty store or maybe even in the regular supermarket, they are worth a try! They have a sweeter taste than other dark purple olives (such as kalamata) and are very tiny and add great depth to any mediterranean dish.

Mediterranean Quinoa
serves 1- just double or quadruple for more people!

1/3 c. quinoa
1 small zucchini sliced into circles
1 handful or small vine of cherry or grape tomatoes
1 small red onion (or half of a medium one) thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper (freshly ground really gives so much flavor!)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
taggiasche olives (or kalamata or other dark olives, but these are great!)
shaved grana padano cheese (or some good parmesan it’s very similar)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. On one half of a baking sheet lined with foil, mix the cherry tomatoes with the garlic, onions and salt and pepper. Drizzle with half of the tbsp of olive oil.

2. On the other half of the baking sheet, lay out the zucchini circles and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with the other half tbsp of olive oil and flip to coat them well, making sure to not leave the bottom touching the foil without oil, otherwise they will stick!

3. Place the veggies in the oven and set the timer for 20 minutes.

4. Prepare the quinoa by pouring 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water (for a single serving, 2/3 cup water) into a small saucepan and bringing to a boil. Lower the heat and let simmer with the lid on for 10-15 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Turn the heat off and let it steam for 5 minutes.

5. Check the veggies at the 20 minute mark, the tomatoes should be splitting and the onions nicely caramelized and the zucchini slices golden. Remove from the oven, remembering to turn your oven off.

6. Once cooled, layer the vegetables on top of the quinoa on your plate or tupperware in my case, top with the olives and grana shavings.

Buon appetito!

Vegetable Quinoa Salad

This salad is quick, quite inexpensive, healthy and most importantly, delicious! Quinoa is a grain-like seed that cooks up in 10 minutes and is healthy and chock full of protein, vitamins and minerals. I’ve been eating it for a while but more as a plain base for meat or sauces and not really mixed into a whole dish on its own until this past week. I went to Padova to hang out with some girl friends and they had the genius idea to make a quinoa pasta dish of sorts, basically substituting it in a dish where you could usually put pasta. Simple, yet brilliant in my opinion. I highly recommend this and you can substitute the zucchini and bell peppers for any veggies. I think today for lunch I will put brussels sprouts and fava beans to mix it up.

Vegetable Quinoa Salad

serves 3-4 (serves 3 generously)

1 cup dry white quinoa
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, small dice
1 red bell pepper, thin strips
1 small zucchini, thin half moons
1 cup of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup grated parmiggiano (or any hard cheese such as pecorino or grana padano)
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Put the quinoa and 2 cups of water in a pot, cover and bring it to boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat, leave it covered and set a timer (or just watch a clock) for 10 minutes. The water should be mostly evaporated after 10 minutes and you will see little holes in the surface. Turn the heat off and leave it covered for 5-10 minutes.

2. In the meantime, saute the onion in the olive oil in a large skillet (preferably non-stick).

3. When the onions become translucent add the bell peppers and a good pinch of salt.

4. When the red peppers start to soften up, add the zucchini with another pinch of salt and some black pepper. Saute the veggies until the zucchini start to caramelize just a bit.

5. Add the chickpeas and stir to heat through.

6. Add the cooked quinoa and toss to combine. Add salt to taste at this point.

7. Serve and top with grated parmiggiano.

Buon appetito!

Lunch + a vinaigrette

Today I have a recipe! Not a very complicated one…but one that is very useful!

It’s my super simple vinaigrette.

It’s just garlic, minced:

You put it in a jar with salt:

Pour in the balsamic and let the garlic marinate (it removes the strong, bitter taste of the garlic):

Then pour in equal parts olive oil and Voila!

You have a great dressing for salads of any type…which leads me to my lunch:

Salad topped with tuna, hard boiled egg, corona beans, corn and tomatoes. Oh and my special sauce 😉

Today I am cleaning my house because my parents are arriving in TWO DAYS!!!!! I also am starting to prepare our bilingual speech (together with Livio). Does anyone have any tips about speeches from the bride, or in particular how to do them for a group of people who speak two different languages? Is simultaneous translation a good idea? Is it better to pass out cards with the translation?

Weekend Catch-up

Sorry I’ve been MIA all weekend. Let’s recap a bit shall we?

After my Friday afternoon trip to Venice with Lani, my soon-to-be mother-in-law and her sister, Lani returned with me to Crocetta (my town) to keep me company since Livio was gone this weekend! We got a pizza to go and watched a girly wedding movie (The Wedding Date). So cheesy but cute!

Saturday morning we woke up early and we went on a 6.25km/almost 4 mile run! It felt great and was the longest I’ve run in a while.

I didn’t photograph much of my eats this weekend however I did photograph my lunch on saturday:

I pan-seared this chicken breast and had it with a delicious and simple salad of lettuce, tomato, corn and corona beans!

For dinner I had some swordfish and veggies. I roasted the Brussels sprouts and grean beans in the oven with olive oil, s + p on 350F/180C for 25 minutes and marinated the swordfish in lemon juice, wine, parsley and garlic. It was quite good although I prefer tuna to swordfish.

Today I have been a cleaning machine, in preparation of my parents arrival. This afternoon I am working on my speech and going to visit my fried Fabio in Asolo. I’ll be back later with a yummy dinner post for after I pick up Livio!

Cleaning out the fridge

This morning I set my alarm for 7.30 to go on a run and I actually jumped out of bed before it even went off! That rarely happens but it was good for my run this morning. I was awake and ready to go! I had a nice 3 mile out and back run while pondering what to have for breakfast.

In honor of finishing things that we already have in the fridge I ate this greek yogurt with nuts and honey. It was actually delicious!

It looked like this with the honey swirled in! So good! Although I could probably just buy regular greek yogurt and swirl nuts and honey in myself… It was nice to try something new that I otherwise wouldn’t have.

I had a relaxing morning consisting of doing laundry, chores and taking a bath. I then prepared this delicious lunch for Livio and I. Livio comes home every day for his lunch break and today I wanted to use up the last of our eggs and I thought of this nice little bowl to put together.

I like the feeling of using up food that’s already in the fridge so that by the end of the week when we do the grocery shopping I don’t feel bad about buying all new stuff!

This actually turned out really delicious! I just roasted the green beans with olive oil, salt and pepper while steaming the quinoa. I mixed in some pecorino romano and pepper with the quinoa and fried the eggs up. All very simple but delicious and nutritious! I highly recommend trying quinoa to anyone who has never tried it. It’s so simple to make and really good for you, in addition to being very tasty of course.

Tonight will be our last night together before Livio leaves for the weekend with his volleyball team (he plays semi-professional volleyball). We will also have to meet with the rehearsal dinner restaurant to finalize the menu. See you all after dinner!

Stuffed!

This morning was cloudy but not raining!

So I decided to take a little trip around Crocetta in my bike for some pictures for the blog as well as to get a few things for a special lunch for Livio and myself!

My town is at the foothills of the Italian Alps so you can see them in the background!

The main street (and only street) of my town also runs along an irrigation canal, because there are cornfields scattered EVERYWHERE in the Veneto (the region where I live). These canals bring water to them from the Alps.

And here’s the grocery store! It’s in the most picturesque location, with an amazing panoramic view surrounding it.

I got the groceries I needed for lunch + a nectarine for a snack for when I got home! Sooo juicy and sweet!

The lunch I made was the first time making this recipe! Livio loved it and I loved it! He even ate all of the spinach without complaining.

These are chicken and turkey sausage stuffed peppers. Inside the sauce is made out of onions, spinach and tomato sauce and there is parmiggiano reggiano sprinkled on top!

SO delicious!

I didn’t post the recipe but if you guys want I can! let me know in the comments. This evening I am going to try a yoga studio nearby so dinner will be late!