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.
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.
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.
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.