June Foodie Pen Pal Reveal

My foodie pen pal this month was Sloane from Florida! It was so fun to come home from an eight day trip and find a package of goodies waiting for me 🙂 I loved the Mango Coconut Water which I slurped down the second these pictures were taken… And the delicious Almond & Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate bar was gone by the end of the night 🙂 (The almonds and sea salt were perfect together!) I have yet to use the Quinoa, Pesto or Risotto but I’m scheming up some delectable dishes for each. Thank you Sloane!

Want to know more about the Foodie Pen Pal program? Want to join? I highly recommend it! Check out the details and sign up here: The Lean Green Bean.

Dinner with the girls…

My family has scattered to the four corners of the earth. Well – more like the 2.5 corners of the earth. My brother got on a plane to Korea last week and most of my family moved to the middle of Washington on Sunday. It has been a tiring and emotional couple of weeks. I hate saying goodbye, however temporarily or short term. Thankfully two of my sisters are staying on this side of the state, and my best friend Ayla is sticking around for a little while.

One of our goals for the summer is to make dinner together once a week. It will be a challenge because we all have pretty different schedules – but we’ve already succeeded once! Last night we had the welcome addition of the youngest member of Hannah’s host family join us…

For dinner I made fresh gluten-free, corn-free pasta! Ayla actually did all of the hard work, she rolled it all out while I worked on the sauces. Gluten-free dough is much more delicate then regular dough but as long as you pay attention and work a little slower – there shouldn’t be any problems. The nice thing about it is even if it does fall apart you can just squish it back together and start over!

The recipe I used for this pasta is an adaptation of a recipe from the Gluten-Free Girl – Shauna Ahern.

Note: When working with gluten-free flours and adjusting recipes, it is important to use weight instead of volume to measure them. That is why I have the weight of each flour in this recipe. I also used only guar gum instead of a combination of guar and xanthan gum because xanthan gum is a byproduct of corn.

Homemade Gluten Free Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1.25oz amaranth flour
  • 1.25oz millet flour
  • 2.125oz potato starch
  • 2.5oz quinoa flour
  • 3 tsp guar gum
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks

Directions

  1. Whisk the eggs and egg yolk together in a small bowl.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, make a well in center and pour in the whisked eggs and egg yolks.
  3. Stir all ingredients together with a fork until mostly combined.
  4. Using your hands, knead remaining dry ingredients into the dough until it is completely incorporated. (You will know the dough is complete when it feels kind of like play-dough.)
  5. After making the dough – tear the dough into golf ball sized pieces, flatten with your hands and dust with a little millet or quinoa flour to limit the stickiness.
  6. Use either a pasta maker or a rolling pin to roll the dough into thin sheets. Roll each piece as thin as you can before it starts to tear.
  7. After rolling the dough out, use either a knife (or a pizza cutter) or the fettuccine setting on the pasta machine to cut each piece into ribbons of pasta.
  8. Toss the cut pasta with a little flour so that it won’t stick together when you are ready to cook it. Always cook pasta in a large pot with plenty of salted boiling water. You want the pasta to be able to roll around freely and not stick to itself. Salt the water until it tastes like sea water. That gives your pasta extra flavor! This pasta is done cooking very quickly so you want to check it after it’s been cooking for just a few minutes. You don’t want it to be over cooked because it will just turn to mush. When done, drain it and add a little olive oil to prevent it from sticking.

To top the pasta I made two different sauces. The red sauce was made with canned grape tomatoes, tomato paste, sauteed garlic and onions, white wine, spinach, diced zucchini and sea salt. Delish 🙂 I also made a seafood sauce that used two cans each of Trader Joes crab and shrimp (including the juices), lots of butter with sauteed garlic, onions, leeks and mushrooms, as well as white wine and sea salt. At the very end I added half a pint of heavy cream and kept it on the heat just long enough to get hot.

Even Hannah liked this sauce and she doesn’t like seafood! We also sauteed some asparagus in butter and salt and ate that on the side.

All in all it was a great evening, especially because we were able to Skype with the family and get a tour of the new house!

I wonder what we’re having for dinner next week?

Quinoa – what is it?

Quinoa is making a comeback as a popular alternative to other more widely recognized grains. Here is some of what Wikipedia has to say about this tasty… seed??

Quinoa (pronounced /ˈkiːnwɑː/ or /kɨˈnoʊ.ə/, Spanish: quinua, from Quechua: kinwa), a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium), is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a member of the grass family. As a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds. Its leaves are also eaten as a leaf vegetable, much like amaranth, but the commercial availability of quinoa greens is currently limited.

The Incas, who held the crop to be sacred, referred to quinoa as chisaya mama or ‘mother of all grains’, and it was the Inca emperor who would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season using ‘golden implements’. During the European conquest of South America quinoa was scorned by the Spanish colonists as ‘food for Indians’, and even actively suppressed its cultivation, due to its status within indigenous non-Christian ceremonies. In fact, the conquistadors forbade quinoa cultivation for a time and the Incas were forced to grow wheat instead.

Quinoa was of great nutritional importance in pre-Columbian Andean civilizations, being secondary only to the potato, and was followed in importance by maize. In contemporary times, this crop has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), and like oats, quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source among plant foods. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest.

Preperation
Quinoa has a light, fluffy texture when cooked, and its mild, slightly nutty flavor makes it an alternative to white rice or couscous.

A common cooking method is to treat quinoa much like rice, bringing two cups of water to a boil with one cup of grain, covering at a low simmer and cooking for 14–18 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed. The cooked germ looks like a tiny curl and should have a slight bite to it (like al dente pasta). As an alternative, one can use a rice cooker to prepare quinoa, treating it just like white rice (for both cooking cycle and water amounts).

Vegetables and seasonings can also be added to make a wide range of dishes. Chicken or vegetable stock can be substituted for water during cooking, adding flavor. It is also suited to vegetable pilafs, complementing bitter greens like kale.

Quinoa can serve as a high-protein breakfast food mixed with honey, almonds, or berries; it is also sold as a dry product, much like corn flakes. Quinoa flour can be used in wheat-based and gluten-free baking.

Quinoa may be germinated in its raw form to boost its nutritional value. Germination activates its natural enzymes and multiplies its vitamin content.[15] In fact, quinoa has a notably short germination period: Only 2–4 hours resting in a glass of clean water is enough to make it sprout and release gases, as opposed to, e.g., 12 hours with wheat.[citation needed] This process, besides its nutritional enhancements, softens the grains, making them suitable to be added to salads and other cold foods.

I for one, love this interesting grain 🙂

Southwest Quinoa

Here’s another of my favorite salad recipes! This is a great way to get some healthy protein without eating meat. This salad tastes fresh and bright and happy. If you haven’t found a way to enjoy quinoa, try this. Trust me!

Southwest Quinoa Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print
Ingredients

Dressing:

  • 1 heaping T grated lime zest
  • ¼ c. fresh lime juice
  • 6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T maple syrup or 1 tsp granulated sweetener
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground pepper

Salad:

  • 2 c quinoa – rinsed well (soak for a few minutes, drain in a fine strainer)
  • 4 c water
  • 2 cans black beans – rinsed well (or about 3 c. cooked black beans, rinsed well)
  • 4 medium tomatoes – diced
  • 1 bunch green onions – finely chopped (including most of the green part)
  • 1 c fresh cilantro – coarsely chopped

Instructions

  1. Simmer quinoa in water, uncovered, about 10 minutes.
  2. Turn off heat, cover, and let stand 10 minutes. Strain any excess water. (Quinoa seems to cook up about the same way rice does – so you should be safe using using your favorite “rice cooking” method.)
  3. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a bowl or blend together in a food processor to emulsify.
  4. Combine dressing and quinoa in a large bowl and stir to coat evenly.
  5. Add remaining ingredients. Stir to combine.
  6. Taste and add a little salt or lime juice if needed to bring out the flavor.

This can be served hot or as a cold salad – it’s delicious either way!