Sunday, August 19, 2012

"My-Thai" Quinoa

I have very mixed feelings about Ayin Harah – the Evil Eye.  I am completely split – part of me is a firm believer, the other part isn't so sure.  So, last week I wrote about my “good” but crazy week.  This week I spent hours in the emergency room with one of my kids…did I give myself an Ayin Harah by talking about how smoothly things were going for a change?  Or was our unscheduled hospital field trip just a moment of falling off the cliff yelling “noooooooooooooooooooooo”?  Can someone really effect how your life progresses by their evil thoughts directed at you?  I actually went to a Rabbi in Israel a few months ago who is purported to be able to remove the “Evil Eye” from you.  I am truly not sure that it worked, but it was cool anyway.  He melted some lead (really, lead) in a small crucible, held a skillet over my head, then poured the scalding lead into the skillet and said some special prayers.  It was really, really fascinating to watch.  The lead cooled into an intriguing pattern and, according to the Rabbi, the patterns manifested different forms of the Evil Eye.  His prayers (theoretically) removed any “Evil Eye” from me (whew!).  According to the Rabbi, boy had I been in trouble - Evil Eyes all over the place!!  I left his house feeling that a weight had been removed from my shoulders.  The skeptic in me said it was all in my head, but I erred on the side of caution and went with the voice in my head that  believed that all was hunky dorey in Sharon Matten land after all traces of “Evil Eye” were removed from my being.  I guess I’ll never really know the truth.  Good and bad things happened after my official Ayin Harah Removal session.  I will just have to be resigned that this is one of those things that I will never truly understand.

Another thing I do not understand is quinoa!  What the heck is quinoa anyway??  Is it a grain?  Is it rice? Why does it look so weird?  How does it grow? Do I want to eat it, and for heaven’s sake…how did it manage to be considered a “super food”?  What’s up with that?  For a long time, some of my friends that manage to eat healthier foods have extolled the virtues of quinoa.  I was so confounded by it that I went online and did some research.  Here’s the scoop:  Quinoa is actually a seed!  According to Wikipedia, the most reliable source of information on the web, quinoa is closely related to species such as beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds.  Tumbleweeds.  That explains a lot about my confusion.  It’s packed with lots of good for you stuff, like protein, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and much, much more.  In fact, according to the website, The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has officially declared that the year 2013 be recognized as "The International Year of the Quinoa.”  Yes, Quinoa! WOW!  Knock me over with a feather!  No matter how good it was supposed to be for me though, quinoa really scared me.  I’m not sure why, it just did, until I found an amazing recipe for “Thai Quinoa” in Suzie Fishbein’s “Passover by Design” cookbook.  The recipe combines a lot of fresh ingredients that are currently in season, many that can be found in my Optimistic Garden.  It’s a great combination of sweet and spicy (we love spicy!), and if there are any leftovers they make a great quick lunch or light dinner.   I modified the recipe to accommodate the quantities of ingredients I had on hand, but it was great even with the changes of slightly less quinoa and onion, and lots more mango.  And so, the “My-Thai” Quinoa  recipe was born.  There was an additional bonus to the “My-Thai” Quinoa recipe - I got to use my favorite Mango cutter*!  Hooray!

Sweet & spicy quinoa...delicious!  Who knew??
I’m still unsure as to whether I had an Ayin Harah this week.  My home grown basil had a fantastic week, but some animal (probably one with two legs!) stole my single, solitary, super-hot Inferno pepper!  So sad!  I think I’ll stick with my general life philosophy motto regardless – It’s all good!!

*For tips on cubing a mango watch the official Kosher Everyday “Mango Cutting Movie”!

My-Thai Quinoa Inredients (GFE - Great for the Gluten-Free Eater)
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 jalepeno pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/3 cup minced red onion (I used the Hindy Chopper)
  • 1 mango, peeled, pitted and diced*
  • 2 tablespoons canola (or olive) oil
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

Thai Quinoa by Suzie Fishbein
·         1 1/2  cups  dry quinoa
·         3 cups  water
·         1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
·         6 leaves  fresh basil,  finely chopped
·         3 sprigs  fresh cilantro leaves, gently torn (discard stems)
·         1/2  cup  minced red onion  (1/2 small red onion)
·         1/2  mango , peeled, pitted, and cut in to 1/2-inch dice
·         2 tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
·         3/4 teaspoon  sea salt , fine
·         1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon  lime juice

Rinse the quinoa thoroughly either in a strainer or in a pot and drain.  (Do not skip this step or a bitter tasting, natural soap-like coating will remain).  Once the quinoa is drained place it into a medium pot with the water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the water is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes or until the berries turn translucent and the outer layer pops off.  Drain.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the minced jalapeno, basil, cilantro, red onion, and mango.  Drizzle in the oil, salt, and lime juice.  Stir to combine.

Add the drained quinoa and toss to combine.  Season with salt to taste.  Serve warm or at room temperature

Source:   "Passover By Design”  By: Suzie Fishbein,  Page 210"

  1. One Shabbat I realized that I had forgotten to cut my basil leaves off of the basil plant on my windowsill before Shabbat, and I had forgotten to purchase fresh cilantro!  Oops!  Although it wasn’t as fresh tasting, the dried ingredients did work well in a pinch.
  2. One of our Shabbat guests, Reuben V., suggested that this recipe might be really good with some fresh mint.  I have to agree.  You can either substitute some of the basil or cilantro for the mint, or only use the mint, or have fun trying different variations of the recipe – it’s all good!
  3. Strangely enough, I have become a “Quinoa Convert”.  Stay tuned for more recipes…
 All the ingredients...
 Check out the cool mango cutter...
Perfectly cut mango's every time!
 All the fresh ingredients - quinoa included!
 Mix it all together...
 Sweet and Spicy!
It tastes as good as it looks!!

   Some of our Optimistic Garden harvest!
Check out the gorgeous Heirloom Black Krim Tomato
in the back - how cool is that??!!

Kosher Everyday is dedicated to the memory of my father
Dr. Theodore Saltzberg - Tuvia Ben Nachum Z”L
May his memory be for a blessing - Yihi zichro baruch.

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  1. Officially I don't believe in ayin hore but just between us, sometimes I let myself get a bit neurotic thinking about it.

    How is your child doing now?

    As for your recipe, you definite with the buzz, quiona is what everyone is writing about these days.

  2. I don't know how many visitors your blog gets but I just wanted to add that perhaps you need to do some extra publicity for your blog, such as being linked to on popular food blogs etc...

    I've been surfing around food sites (slow work day) and this one is certainly more interesting in terms of details and recipes than many others.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment!! Please feel free to share this blog with your family and friends ;-)