quinoa love

by Heguiberto on July 25, 2009

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it's always a party with quinoa love!

it's always a party with quinoa love!

This is the best time of the year for locally grown produce: Summer! Last Sunday we went to the farmers market at the UN plaza and found beautiful vegetables on sale for cheap! In fact vegetables are always cheap at this market. Many times they are organically grown or at least grown free of pesticides which is a good thing. This week the organically grown collard greens were on sale: 3 large bunches for only 2 bucks. The dry farmed cherry tomatoes were just a dollar a pound. You really can’t beat that anywhere else in San Francisco. Dry framed tomatoes may not be the cutest but I think that they’re especially flavorful due to the stress the plant goes through receiving only rain water. Don’t be afraid of vegetables that don’t appear classically shaped or colored. In the case of tomatoes, for example, the oddly shaped and colored ones tend to be more packed with flavor that the more conventional round, plump red ones. I almost wonder why they still even produce the flavorless tennis-ball varieties anymore.

fresh collard greens from the farmers market

fresh collard greens from the farmers market

The same day that we went to the farmer’s market we were also invited to our friend, John’s house for dinner, sort of last minute. I was already preparing Quinoa Love, so we offered to bring it over. Amazingly, John was thinking of making the same dish himself that very night! It was kismet, no?

How could we decline having a meal with friends? The food always tastes even better and more company makes the conversation more lively. Plus Clarence, our bulldog, was invited. He really enjoys visiting John’s. So it was a win-win situation all around.

This recipe is simple though it requires several steps to make. It is a complete meal packing everything you need including lots of protein coming from the tofu and quinoa. The meal is ultra healthy and light and tasty. This is not one of those old-fashioned hippie vegetarian recipes with no flavor that makes you run to the loo the whole next day, so don’t worry! It has tons of flavor, interesting textures and is a real crowd pleaser every time. I’ve served this to people who’ve never had quinoa and to regular meat eaters and never had any complaints. Actually they ask for more most of the time.

A note on quinoa, I thought that quinoa was a cereal much like rice or corn, but I was wrong about that. It’s what they call a “pseudo-cereal.” Apparently it’s related to beets and spinach. Even so, you can cook quinoa much the same way you would when making rice. In the taste department I would say it is nutty and smells a bit like oatmeal. Quinoa is another exquisite and nutritious contribution from the Americas to world cuisine.

Quinoa Love

TJ's quinoa

TJ's quinoa

Here’s the recipe:

1 cup of dry quinoa, rinsed
1 bunch of collard greens, rinsed, stems* removed with leaves cut in thin strips 2-3 inches long
1 ½ lbs. cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp sugar
5 ears of fresh sweet corn
½ bunch of Italian parsley chopped
1 block of tofu cut into 5 squares
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp of balsamic vinegar
½ cup pesto American Style
½ jar of sundried tomatoes packed in oil, cut into strips
4 cloves of garlic
Kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
¾ cup pumpkin seeds

*Collard green stems tastes like broccoli, don’t discard them just steam them and add to salads, soup, rice, etc

How to:

Cut tomatoes in halves. Toss with sugar, olive oil, salt and black pepper. Place tomato halves on a cooking pan cut side up and bake it in the oven for about 50 minutes at approximately 380F.

Add quinoa to a pan with 2 cups of water and salt, heat to boiling then turn temperature to low. Simmer covered for 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from heat. Let rest for 5 min.

chopping collard greens

chopping collard greens

Lay tofu squares on a dish, sprinkle salt, black pepper, cayenne and nutritional yeast over it on both sides. Add 2 tbsp olive oil to a pan and sauté tofu squares about 5 min per side. Sprinkle balsamic vinegar over them. Remove from pan and set aside. Using the same pan, add two tbsp of olive oil and 2 crushed garlic cloves. Sauté till fragrant. Add collard greens. Toss to coat with olive oil. Sauté for about 5 minutes until collard greens have wilted to about half of the original volume and the color is bright green. Remove from pan and set aside. Using the same pan, heat 4 tbsp olive oil and the remaining garlic. Sauté till fragrant then add corn, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Cook corn for about 5 minutes while occasionally stirring. Add parsley to corn about half way through cooking. Remove from pan and set aside.

To assemble the dish mix the quinoa, corn, collard greens, pumpkin seeds, sundried tomatoes together in a large bowl. Stir in pesto. Place mix in a large serving dish. Cut tofu squares diagonally into triangles and lay them on top of the quinoa mix. Top with baked tomatoes, along with their juices. This dish makes about ten to twelve servings. It tastes great the next day too.

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Kevin Gibbs July 27, 2009 at 10:52 am

This does look tasty!! Can I be invited for some?!!

Heguiberto July 27, 2009 at 4:57 pm

of course! consider yourself invited for next time.

Jaeny May 27, 2011 at 8:24 pm

The collard greens look absolutely great! wow, I would definitely want to feed my family a lot of those fresh stuff from the farmers market. I’ve also tried quinoa and love it, it was a quinoa black bean salad, almost similar to this recipe from the moosewood low fat favorites cookbook. My family loves it, we’ve been on a wheat free diet for quite sometime.

Heguiberto May 28, 2011 at 10:28 am


Thanks for the thoughtful comment and for visiting our blog. We make quinoa love often and always really enjoy it. Now that we’ve a community garden plot and grow our own collard greens, it is even more thrilling.

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