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!

Update on post wedding life

Sorry I’ve been gone for a while!!! I hope I’m apologizing to people who will still read this. As most people can imagine, a wedding is a hectic time and so after it takes some adjusting to get back to your normal routine. It was truly an amazing day and experience and I couldn’t be happier. I feel so lucky to have had so many of my closest friends and family there to share such a beautiful day with me. I can honestly say that it was the best and happiest day of my life. Here is a link to the professional pictures:

http://www.italyweddingphoto.com/blog/italian-wedding-photography/wedding-in-asolo/

I will very shortly do a wedding summary post. In the meantime here are some post married life updates!
I’ve really been enjoying fall for the delicious pumpkins Italy has to offer. They have many more varieties here and I use them to make all sorts of baked goods and even chili! I will have to update with a delicious wheat free pumpkin scone recipe that I have. I also love these ornamental pumpkins I found at our local supermarket.

Livio and I have been working on finally finishing our apartment with all of the non-essential details such as light fixtures (before there were just hanging bulbs) and curtains. We will probably continue decorating slowly in the next few months but this is our living room so far. We thought these Tiffany-blue curtains gave just the right touch of color to a white and grey palette.

I have gotten tired of salads and have started experimenting with some new recipes. This one is thanks to a fun day in Padova that I spent with my friends Rachel and Becca. We bought some fresh veggies and made a delicious quinoa and chickpea salad. I will post the recipe shortly- It is delicious and gluten free!

So far married life has been almost completely the same as pre-married life, a part from having a lot less wedding planning to do. The principle difference I would say is in the mindset you have for the future. You start to think more long term and obviously have a more specific vision of what you want your future to be like. It has also brought a sense of calm and tranquility into my life and despite having still tons of paperwork to trudge through, I know that I will be here in Italy and having that firmly set in my mind gives me so much happiness.

I will be back soon (and this time for real) with posts on the wedding, a pumpkin bread recipe, the quinoa salad recipe and just general life updates!

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!