I don’t like eating meat, oh no I don’t, I don’t like eating things with feet. I do not it on a boat, I will not eat it with a goat. I don’t like it here or there, I do not like it anywhere!
Thanks for the help there, Dr. Seuss. For real though, I’ve always been a picky eater not in that I don’t like variety, but in that I don’t particularly care for meat. And when I do eat meat, be prepared for a dissection of epic proportions. I have said in the past that my favorite meat is chicken breast – no gross bloody spots appear during cooking like chicken thighs, very little fat and really very little to be offended by. When it cooks, it just changes color and texture with no unpleasant surprises. Basically, it cooks like a vegetable, and I appreciate that.
The past several months I’ve been exploring simple ways I can satisfy my enthusiastic carnivore husband while eating the bare minimum of meat myself – without spending all day cooking or dirtying every pot and pan in the house. One of my tricks is to make a side dish that he can eat, that is substantial enough that it can serve as the bulk of a vegetarian meal. I’m going to share two of my favorites, and it just so happens that they both rhyme.
First up is quinoa and beanoa. If you’re not in the know, pronounce quinoa “keen-wa”…then just add “wa” onto the end of the word bean to make it rhyme. Because why not?
Like most of my recipes, this is more of a guideline. It’s so simple though, that’s all you need. First you take a pot, and you cook 1 cup of quinoa following the instructions on the box. Next, in a nice size pan or saucepan, sautee some onions and garlic in olive oil. Then throw in your favorite veggies, be it spinach, strips of kale, diced zucchini, sweet corn, stir and leave it for a minute while you dice up a tomato. Throw that in and let cook, seasoning as you like. Salt and pepper, parsley, a pinch of basil…or go in another direction and add cilantro. Open up a can of red kidney or cannelini beans (I prefer kidney beans with white quinoa and cannelini beans with red quinoa just for aesthetics) and toss them in. Stir until the beans are hot and the veggies are cooked. Quinoa cooks quick, only about 20 minutes, so when that’s ready, toss it in with your veggies and give it a stir.
And there you have it. I don’t have a photo, so you’ll have to use your imagination. Quinoa is packed with protein, as are beans. This is one of my favorites to serve for dinner, then use the leftovers the next couple of nights so I don’t need to make another vegetarian entree.
Note: Yes, I will use canned beans if I don’t have dried that I have soaked and cooked waiting in my freezer. I try to buy organic when possible, and rinse them well before using to remove all the “can sludge”.
Next up is beets and sweets. I spent much of my life resisting beets. They stain your hands, they taste like dirt…not interested. Less than a year ago I tried again, roasting red beets and sweet potatoes, slicing and layering them drizzled with balsamic vinegar. And it was good. Like, my husband was happy to eat it good, and he is a total beet hater.
Then I discovered golden beets. I buy them at the supermarket, they’re a delightful sunny yellow inside, and handling them doesn’t stain your hands. So, beets and sweets. Grab your golden beets and a couple of sweet potatoes. Wash them and peel them, then dice into nice little chunks. Line a baking pan with parchment paper (or don’t, as you wish), and lay out the chunks, then drizzle or spray some olive oil on them. Bake at 400 degrees fahrenheit until tender enough you’d want to eat them – mine took about 45 minutes to be fork tender. Once they’re done, hit a frying pan or skillet with diced onions and a little garlic until it starts to get tender. For me, I would skip this next step (and you easily can to keep it vegetarian), but I was making this for a crowd this last time, so I chopped up a slice of thick bacon to throw in to add a little extra richness and a salty tang. Stir that around then throw in the beets and sweets. I seasoned with pink sea salt, black pepper, parsley and a touch of rosemary and thyme for a warm, earthy taste.
The only reason sage wasn’t sprinkled in was that I couldn’t find it. Sorry Simon and Garfunkel, I tried to go all the way with it for you.
And then that’s it. It came beautiful! The colors popped, the flavors were fantastic, with the contrasting sweetness of the beets and sweet potatoes playing off each other.
I like to cook, I like to cook, and I rarely do it from a book. I make up recipes you see, I create them, I make them be! I shared two vegetarian sides so how about you, what kind of side dishes do you do?