Vegan Comfort Food: Spanish Quinoa

I grew up eating a lot of “Spanish Rice” casseroles that always had green beans, diced (canned) tomatoes and other stuff. The recipe rarely changed and nearly always had ground beef in it (yeah, if you were born in the 80’s or before, you probably ate things like this…..). Making it with quinoa though takes it to a new level. One, it adds in a lot of protein and fiber, two it cooks quickly so you can eat in under 30 minutes (unlike brown rice). It is great served with tortilla chips for dipping or tortillas to wrap up into burritos. And noooo canned green beans thankfully.


Spanish Quinoa


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp granulated garlic or 3 cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp dried or fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 cup frozen kernel corn
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes
  • 15 ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 ounce can green chile, preferably roasted variety
  • 1 bunch green onions, trimmed, white and light green only, sliced thinly


Heat a large deep skillet over medium. Add in oil, onion and bell pepper, saute for about 5 minutes. Add in garlic, cilantro and chili powder, stir to combine.

Add corn through green chile, bring to a boil over high. Cover tightly, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes. Turn off stove, stir, cover again and rest for 5 minutes.

Serve with warmed tortillas or tortilla chips, green onions sprinkled on and salsa (salsa verde is nice). For a vegetarian version, sprinkle on cheese and dab on sour cream (or use your favorite vegan versions either way).

Serves 6 easily.



Quinoa Chickpea Dressing

While we didn’t have this with Thanksgiving dinner, I made it this past week with a dinner. It seemed perfect for a very cold evening, especially after Kirk and Walker came back up from the lake with red noses from the crisp air.

And I could see leaving behind my cornbread dressing concoctions for this creation. Vegan, gluten-free, plant-based and full of flavor!

Quinoa Chickpea Dressing


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch green onions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 2 crisp apples, peeled, cored and chopped small
  • 2/3 cup Dried Cherries
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
  • Ground black pepper and salt to taste


Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, shake off. Add it and the broth to a medium saucepan. Bring to boil, turn to medium-low, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°m lightly oil and 8×8″ glass baking dish.

Heat a large skillet over medium, add oil, green onions, celery, apples and thyme, sauté until tender, stir in cherries and chickpeas, heat through. Take off heat, stir in lemon zest and juice and cooked quinoa.

Season to taste, spread in prepared dish, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Serves 8, as a side dish, 4 for a meal.


PS: Baby Alistaire says to everyone “Well!”

Vegan Comfort Food: Peppers & Onions & Tofu with Curry Gravy over Quinoa

I wrote this post up last week – right before my computer’s hard drive crashed. It felt great to see us working on it and knowing I would have it back soon…more to come on that!

OK, that was a long title. A really long one.

This dinner was an odd one, I had seen a recipe that inspired me to go a direction we hadn’t been down before. Being the usual Sarah-thing, by the time it was done, it bore little resemblance to my inspiration recipe and that worked out perfectly in this case. It had been awhile since we had tofu (months, if not longer) and in town I can now get good brands of organic and Non-GMO in stock. Before it wasn’t so easy, which was why we had quit eating it. Will this be a meal that makes everyone happy? Probably not. My taste in food can run to the odd side. I actually served the toddler something else because frankly I didn’t feel like trying to remove yellow curry stains out of his clothing. Bad Mom, I know. But gah, curry stains so easily!

And who wants this cute outfit to get wrecked??

I served it over quinoa, basmati or jasmine rice would also have been nice. There is plenty of gravy for the quinoa or rice to soak up. Add in a cold glass of ice tea and a cozy couch to nosh on…and I am happy on a cold fall evening.

On Sunday Walker and I went shopping at PCC, a local co-op chain of natural foods, and found this lovely yellow/orange head of cauliflower, which was grown in Oregon. Yum. It so didn’t match dinner but yum, it was GOOD. Just steamed a bit and tossed with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.

Sigh…and here it was Sunday evening. And realizing that with Daylight Saving Time having changed I was facing my least favorite part of blogging. The one where I cannot go outside and take photos in natural light. Stuck inside with awful kitchen lighting. I need to get out the lights and learn how to use them properly this winter. And not shoot photos in blue glass casseroles…lol. I did grab one shot of the casserole before I smothered it in gravy. No finished dinner photos, ah well!

Peppers, Onions and Tofu with Curry Gravy


  • 14 to 16 ounce block extra firm tofu, well-drained, preferably organic/non-GMO
  • 16 ounce bag frozen bell pepper strips, thawed
  • 2 small or 1 large sweet onion
  • 2 Tbsp neutral vegetable oil, divided

Curry Gravy –

  • ½ cup white whole wheat flour
  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari sauce
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • ½ tsp dried basil


Prepare grain of choice (for quinoa I used 1 cup well rinsed quinoa and 2 cups water, brought boil, cooked covered on medium-low for 20 minutes).

Preheat oven to 350°, lightly spritz a 9×13″ glass baking dish with vegetable oil.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high, add 1 tablespoon oil, peppers and onions. Saute until golden. Stash in a bowl and keep warm. Slice the tofu in half (like splitting a roll), then cut into 24 total pieces. Heat the remaining oil, turn to medium and add the tofu. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on and sauté until golden, then gently flip over until all sides are golden.

Spread the peppers and onions on the bottom of the dish. Nestle the tofu on top. Spread the curry gravy on top, bake uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve over grain of choice.

Curry Gravy –

Add the flour and water to a small mason jar, seal and shake till mixed. Scrape into a small saucepan, whisk in remaining ingredients  whisking smooth. Heat over medium until simmering and thickened. Let simmer gently over low until ready to use in recipe.

Serves 4.


Vegan Comfort Food: Mushroom Gravy over Quinoa

I’ve said it before, but having grown up in a family where we had weekly dinners that were the same over and over, I find it hard to plan out meals. I like spontaneity, where I have the freedom to make whatever catches my fancy or what I see in the grocery store. I came across a buy on mushrooms and took them home, with no idea what I would make. First I was thinking a mushroom stroganoff, then my mind wandered to a mushroom gravy, served over quinoa. The meal was whole grain, vegan and gluten-free but most of all delicious.

I did find one disturbing thing while making the dish. My soy sauce had preservatives in it (Good ol’ sodium benzoate). Yuck. I had bought it and not read the back. Which for me? That is something I don’t normally do. My laziness came from that I had bought the brand for years and I don’t use it often. A bottle can sit there for a long time. Yuck. Needless to say after using it for the recipe, I tossed said bottle in the recycle bin. Either I’ll go back to making my own or find an organic brand. So…do read labels. Especially of condiments you rarely use.

Mushroom Gravy over Quinoa


  • 3 cups water
  • 1½ cups quinoa
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lb white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small green bell pepper
  • 1 Tbsp garlic
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Quinoa Flour
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp parsley
  • 2 Tbsp lower sodium soy sauce or tamari


Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, shake off. Add to a tall saucepan with water and a pinch of fine sea salt. Bring to boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 15 minutes, turn off heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Fluff gently before serving.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high, add 1 Tablespoon oil and mushrooms. Saute until golden, set aside in a bowl. Add the remaining oil, onion and bell pepper, sauté until tender. Whisk in the garlic, pepper and quinoa flour, cook for a minute. Whisk in the milk till smooth, then stir the mushrooms back in. Season with parsley and soy sauce/tamari. Let heat through till thickened, whisking often.

Serve over quinoa.

Serves 4.

Quinoa Spinach Quiche

Raise your hand if you grew up on Bisquick® Impossible Pies. Or even worse, if you were making them up to say 2 years ago. Is that both of my hands in the air? Sigh. Yes. For as bad as they were, they tasted great and made their own crust – even if the crust was a bit odd. So instead…what if you could have that kind of “pie” but make it with Quinoa?

I saw the basis of my recipe on Whole Foods website and started adapting it. A treat meal, full of eggs and a smattering of cheese, in Quiché form. And the best part? The quinoa cooks and makes its own crust. Easy and tasty!

Quinoa Spinach Quiché


  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, chopped
  • 8 large eggs, preferably local
  • 1¼ cups milk, used unsweetened almond
  • 1 tsp dried rubbed sage
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cups baby spinach, chopped (packed tightly)
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 1 cup shredded medium white cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350°, lightly oil an 8×8″ glass baking dish.

Heat a skillet over medium, add oil and onion, sauté until tender and golden. Add the garlic, turn off heat and let cool.

In a large bowl whisk the eggs, milk and seasonings together. Add in the spinach. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, shake off, add to eggs. Stir in cooled onions.

Pour into prepared dish, cover tightly with foil. Gently shake, lightly rap dish on counter a couple of times to settle the quinoa.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until set in the center. Remove foil, sprinkle cheese on and return to oven. Bake for 15 minutes uncovered, until cheese is golden and bubbling. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes to cool a bit before slicing and serving (it allows the cheese to set up, allowing for less mess.)

Serves 4 to 6.


Late Summer Roses & Italian Tuna Quinoa

I am the worst at following “proper” times for pruning. It usually happens when I am outside and notice how bad a bush or tree is looking. The only ones I am careful with are my blueberries. Those I wait till the berry season is over to cut back deadwood.

Sitting along one side of our backyard fence is a lone rose-bush. It came with the house. In 8 years I have trimmed it maybe three times. Usually all I do is remove the rose hips at the end of summer. This year I knew it needed actual tending. It has gotten taller, it is somewhere between 6 to 7 feet tall and isn’t wide. I cut the cane that was at least 8 feet high. And then suddenly it put on a huge group of buds, as if to reward me. Now the roses bush stands taller, having removed the heavy appendage that was dragging it downwards.

The bush is a pale pink variety, very lightly scented. The petals it produces are very pretty.

It has bees often visiting it. Which has gotten me thinking this summer. I am considering putting in wild rose bushes along that section of fence. It would give a gorgeous splash of color. When I lived on the Island, the bluffs were covered in them. I had a pretty rose-bush at that house that was intertwined into a Lilac bush (bush being used loosely, it was taller than the 1 story house!!). It put on tiny roses that were intensely scented.  More roses and more strawberries…that seems like a workable goal for next year!

Dinner came out of an idea I had. I was thinking mac n’ cheese but then instead went a different route, using quinoa, with a sprinkle of cheese, and not a heavy sauce. As a treat, I added a small can of olive oil packed tuna. Just enough for a rich flavor to the meal. The onions came from the farm, fresh and vibrant. The broccoli also came from there as well.

Italian Tuna Quinoa


  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small onions, peeled and diced
  • 1½ cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 Tbsp homemade broth mix
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cups finely chopped spinach leaves
  • 5 to 6 ounces extra virgin olive oil packed tuna
  • ½ cup white cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 bunch green onions, white and palest green parts, thinly sliced


Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium, add oil and onion. Saute until tender and turning golden.

Stir in the quinoa, water, broth mix, seasonings and spinach, bring to a boil.

Cover tightly, turn down to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes,

Drain the oil from the tuna, flake into the quinoa, stir gently in. Add most of the cheese, stirring to melt in.

Serve topped with the green onions and remaining cheese.

Serves 4.


Book Review: The Complete Idiot’s Guide Quinoa Cookbook

It has been a busy week here for cookbooks on Quinoa!

Released in July, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Quinoa Cookbook, is another addition to the Complete Idiot’s Guide series of cookbooks. as usual it is reader friendly and well laid out. While the book runs the gamut of recipes (from breakfast to dessert), it has a different feel than some of their other books, mostly due to the recipes being on the gourmet end. This being due to a number the recipes coming from chefs. It is an omnivore’s book, featuring a number of meat/fish recipes but also has plenty of vegetarian and bean based dishes to choose from as well. Don’t look for vegan recipes though. Still, it gave me some new ideas!

Being the sucker for new ideas I decided to try the Quinoa Polenta with Parmesan and Sage on page 245, as I had everything on hand, including already cooked quinoa. Win-win. I have had commercially prepared quinoa polenta before and it didn’t impress me very much (polenta in a tube…eek). So I wasn’t sure if we’d like it or not. Lesson learned – don’t base preconceptions on sad processed foods. So I am glad I took the chance. I served the polenta with my handmade red sauce on top (a pint jar was plenty) and oven roasted zucchini spears. And the leftovers? Even better! I had some left that I chilled. It was very firm. I heated up a bit of olive oil and sautéed them until golden on both sides, served with a little cold red sauce on top. Oh wow. Fantastic! The quinoa adds texture and heartiness to the polenta.

Quinoa Polenta with Parmesan and Sage


  • 1½ tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1½ tsp garlic, minced
  • 2¼ cups vegetable broth (see below for an easy recipe!)
  • 2 cups low-fat milk + 2 Tbsp unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1½ cups Organic Corn Grits/Polenta
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa (cold is fine)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter (used cultured organic)
  • ¾ cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


Preheat the oven to 350°, lightly oil a 9×13″ glass baking dish with olive oil.

In a large saucepan over medium-high, add the olive oil, onion and garlic. Cook for a minute or two.

Add the broth, soured milk, sea salt and bring just to a boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta, and continue to whisk until mixture begins to thicken, lowering the heat as needed.

Stir in the quinoa, black pepper, sage leaves, butter and cheese. Continue whisking until very thick.

Spread the mixture into the prepared baking dish, smooth out and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice into squares, an offset thin spatula helps the removal.

Serves 4 (or more).

Vegan Friendly Broth Powder


  • 1 1/3 cups Large Flake Nutritional Yeast
  • 2 Tbsp onion powder (not onion salt!)
  • 1 Tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried rubbed sage
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp dried parsley
  • ½ tsp dried celery flakes


Add the ingredients into a dry mixing container for a high-speed blender –

Process on high until smooth (takes less than 30 seconds). If using a normal blender it will take a bit longer.

Store in an airtight container. Use 1 Tablespoon dry mix per cup of water.

Makes about 12 Tablespoons dry mix.


FTC Disclaimer: We received a review copy for potential review.

A Vegan Kind of Morning: Sausage Patties & Pancakes

I was feeling the other night that we needed a hearty breakfast. Maybe I was having an oatmeal burnout temporarily (since we eat that most mornings). So I set out to make vegan sausage with ingredients that we can eat – rather than the scary list you see in refrigerated and frozen commercially made patties (read them, it is scary). A lot of vegan sausage patties call for rice but why not quinoa? It is rich in protein and it adapts to most flavors. My hunch was right and the patties came out great! They had a nice testure, great taste and very filling! The quinoa was the perfect canvas for all the herbs and spices. And nary any soy found in this patty! And I managed to still cram some oaty goodness in them as well…..

And then I got up and wandered down to the kitchen and saw one of the berry thieves in our yard:

The robin happily munched away on a ripe strawberry, eating about half and then flew off with the rest.

I am OK with that…I feel my garden is as much theirs as it is mine. If I can provide a safe haven for birds my job has been well done.

Vegan Sausage Patties


  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 Tbsp white whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp rubbed sage
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1½ Tbsp lower sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp flaxseed meal + 3 Tbsp water


Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, add to a small saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil, cover and turn to medium-low. Simmer for 15 minutes, set aside for 5 minutes. Fluff up and let cool a bit.

Grind the oats in a food processor, add the quinoa and the remaining ingredients, process until mixed. Divide into 9 balls, using a 3-Tablespoon Disher. Flatten the balls into patties, set on a parchment paper lined plate or cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Take out and let warm up for 30 minutes, then heat a large skillet over medium (use a regular skillet, not non-stick). Spread a liberal amount of oil in the pan, add half of the patties and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, until crispy.

Makes 9 patties.

Vegan Pancakes


  • 1¼ cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp maple sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice blend
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1¼ cups unsweetened almond or coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp sunflower oil plus more for skillet


Preheat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt to a large mixing bowl. Add the milk and oil to the center, whisk until just mixed.

Add a small amount of oil to the skillet, turn down to medium and drop small ladles of the batter (about ¼ cup or so). When the edges are dry and the bottom is golden flip over, cook until browned on the other side. Repeat till done (I cooked 3 at a time to make flipping easier)

Makes about 9 to 10 pancakes.

Breakfast serves 3 hungry adults or 4 smaller appetites – or 2 adults and 2 kids.


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