Sunday, April 21, 2013

Garden Fresh Quinoa and the Return of the Optimistic Garden

Garden Fresh Quinoa...
or should we call it
"Optimistic" Quinoa??
It’s that time of year when the Optimistic Gardener in me takes over and starts to plan for our family’s Optimistic Garden – once again.  This year we started even earlier than we have in the past!!  My beautiful daughter (KIH) requested a greenhouse for her birthday gift…in March!  The same daughter that is growing Etrog trees from the seeds of our 2011 Sukkot Etrogs.  Sure enough, we found a greenhouse at our local hardware store for less than $20…and we now have a five foot tall green house in our kitchen!  We transplanted the gorgeous etrog plants (and other citrus plants that she had planted last year) into larger pots and placed them in her brand spankin’ new greenhouse.  While purchasing the greenhouse with my other beautiful daughter (KIH), of course we had to buy some seeds and little greenhouse flats to start them in.  And of course we just had to buy some cute little strawberry plants with sweet little flowers on them and two huge pots to grow them in.  The hardware store people must have thrown a party when we left!  We purchased purple bean, watermelon, cantaloupe, spaghetti squash, yellow pear tomato, sweet cherry tomato, impatient flower, lavender, basil, and parsley seeds.  We added water to the little peat pellets from the greenhouse flats, watched them expand into enough dirt to fill the seed growing containers, and planted our little seeds.  Even the optimists in us didn’t anticipate the incredibly rapid growth of our plants!!!  AHHHHHHH!  Inside of a week we have huge seedlings growing – and it’s still too cold here to transplant them outside.   Sigh.  This is where I guess Optimism becomes Reality!  It’s incredibly rewarding to see our plants growing a lot each day.  When the weather starts to get a little warmer (a little more consistently) we’ll move the greenhouse outside to our patio and wage a silent war with the pesky squirrels that plague our neighborhood.  The squirrels here are amazingly resourceful in their quest to eat every plant that we put in our Optimistic Garden – we’ll just have to out maneuver them with new and creative strategies. 

She even put it together herself!!
In honor of the great excitement generated by our Optimistic Greenhouse I’m sharing with you a recipe for Garden Fresh Quinoa.  Based upon the recipe that I published on for Passover for Walnut Quinoa Burgers, I developed this recipe when adding some additional vegetables to the burgers.  While making them, I tasted the burger mix (before adding the eggs of course) and thought “Hey, this is really good just as it is!”  Using the Walnut Quinoa mix with the vegetables is actually even better because you get all the benefits of super healthy quinoa, sautéd vegetables, and walnuts without the added fat and calories of frying the burgers in oil!  And Garden Fresh Quinoa is great for the GFE (Gluten Free Eater) – bonus!  When I made the Garden Fresh Quinoa as a Shabbat side dish it was a great success…nutty, flavorful, and extremely delicious. Yippee Skippee! Maybe in a few months I’ll even be able to make them using vegetables from our own Optimistic Garden….or is that a little too optimistic?  We’ll see…here’s hoping!

Garden Fresh Quinoa
2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed
4 cups boiling water
1 large onion, finely diced

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed (you can use a frozen cube)
1 large carrot, peeled
1 large zucchini, unpeeled
8-10 ounces mushrooms
12 ounces ground walnuts
½-1 teaspoon fine sea salt (or to taste)
¼- ½  teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)

 In a large saucepan combine the quinoa and boiling water.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low.  Cover and cook for 15 minutes until all the water is absorbed.  Turn off heat and allow the cooked quinoa to sit covered for an additional 5 minutes. Remove cover and allow quinoa to cool.  (This step can be done in advance.)

In a food processor fitted with a medium shredder blade, shred the carrot, zucchini, and mushrooms.  Set aside.

Heat oil in a medium skillet.  Add diced onions and garlic then sauté until the onions are caramelized.  Add the shredded vegetables and sauté until soft.  Fold the cooled quinoa into the sautéd vegetables, then stir in the ground walnuts until completely combined.
 All the ingredients...
 Shred the vegetables in the food processor...
Sauté the onions until caramelized...
 Add the colorful shredded vegetables....
 Add the ground nuts...
 Stir to combine...
 So good it's NUTS!!

 Day 1: April 8th
It begins...we're Optimistic!
 Big potted strawberry plants...
Check out the flowers!
 Don't you wish you could have a 
in your kitchen too?!!!
 April 12th:
Plant the basil and parsley...
 How crazy is this???
They're already growing!!!
 April 18th:
Ok so I made this one...
I couldn't wait for the flowers we
planted so I created my own ;-)
 April 21st:
Little strawberries on the plants!!
Our plants are growing 
 Our greenhouse is really
 Even the basil and parsley are growing!
I guess we're not too optimistic after all!

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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These recipes are for sole, personal use of visitors to Sharon Matten -Edible Experience Kosher Everyday. Edible Experience Kosher Everyday recipes are for your enjoyment but are not to be posted or reprinted without express permission from Sharon Matten. Thank you!!