Christmas Colored Quinoa

It’s been a lot of sweets around here lately and although I love me some sugar, it’s time for something savory.

tomato basil quinoa

This quinoa salad seems a little summery for late December but let’s use red and green to our advantage and say this is a Christmas themed quinoa salad shall we? Even if it’s really just a product of the leftovers from my paninis earlier this week.

This basil has been taunting me, slowly turning brown with each passing day, and yet I didn’t know what to do with it. And these grape tomatoes, although completely out of season, taste surprisingly sweet and shouldn’t be wasted. So I decided to keep with the panini theme in quinoa form. I mixed the grape tomatoes and basil with sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and a big squeeze of lemon for a dish that makes it feel like August in December.

Just a little something healthy in between all the Christmas cookies.

Tomato, Basil Quinoa Salad (vegan, gluten-free)

2 cups dry quinoa

4 cups water

pinch of salt

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, reduced to 1/4 cup

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt to taste

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 cup grape tomatoes

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

1/4 cup basil, cut into ribbons

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Cook quinoa according to these directions.

While quinoa is cooking, heat the balsamic vinegar in a saucepan on medium low. Reduce to about half, approximately 7-8 minutes. The vinegar should still be liquid-y, don’t let it get too thick.

Chop tomatoes into bite size pieces and chiffonade the basil (i.e. French for cut into little ribbons).  grape tomatoes

sundried tomatoes and basil

Place quinoa in a bowl with the tomatoes and basil. Mix in balsamic reduction, olive oil, lemon and salt.

quinoa salad

I mixed the basil in when I took these photos but you can also just top with basil at the very end if you prefer.

tomato basil quinoa

I also only used 1 cup dry quinoa in my recipe and found it a little heavy on the vinegar. Hence the quinoa in my photos will seem a bit darker than yours will, use 2 cups quinoa as the recipe states and I think it will be just right.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Running and Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

How do weekends go by so fast? I feel like it was just Friday night. Sigh.

My weekend was wonderful as always. I subbed on Friday night and taught my regular classes Saturday morning. I am really starting to love my Saturday morning classes. The energy is so positive and happy on the weekends. I can’t believe I get paid to teach! Sorry, I digress, back to the weekend.

Saturday afternoon Michael and I walked down to Newbury Street and did a little shopping. Saturday night I had a holiday party for one of the studios I teach at. I made my Southwestern Quinoa Salad. I didn’t have any limes so I made it with lemons and a little cayenne pepper. It was just as delicious as I remember it, maybe even more so.

Southwestern Quinoa Salad

Sunday I was up early, per usual, and just about finished my Christmas shopping while I waited for Michael to get up. Thank you world wide web. After breakfast we decided to venture into a new neighborhood. There’s a reservoir in Chestnut Hill that gets rave reviews for runners and dogs so we headed out. The reservoir is about 1.75 miles around and right on the edge of BC’s campus. I was feeling really good and with Michael pushing me the first lap around we were going at about a 6:45 minute pace!! I did the second lap on my own and managed to keep it under 7 mins! I’ve never thought of myself as a speedy runner so I was pleasantly thrilled by these numbers. Maybe I’ve spent too many years running the big hills of SF where I all but gave up on timing myself.

Here’s the official time and distance from Map My Run and a picture of us at the reservoir.

Map My Run Us on Chestnut Hill Reservoir

After the run we explored Newton, a cute suburb of Boston and grabbed a coffee. Then headed to Whole Foods. I had tortilla soup on the brain and wanted to pick up the fixings.

I love tortilla soup but it’s almost always made with chicken so I never have it. I figured it couldn’t be too hard to make a veg version since it’s mostly about the toppings anyway. Turns out, vegetarian tortilla soup is really freakin’ good!

Tortilla Soup (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free)

For the soup:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 white onion, chopped

1 large poblano pepper, chopped

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

6 cups vegetable stock

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

Juice of 1/2 lime

Salt to taste

Toppings:

Sliced avocado

Sliced green onion

Cilantro

Tortilla strips or chips

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In a large pot saute onions and peppers until almost soft. About 5 minutes.

Poblano and onion

Add garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.

Add tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, garlic salt and cayenne. These measurements were rough. I added a bit more of each of the spices later on in the cooking process. Taste as you go.

Dump in vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium low heat for 15 minutes.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Add black beans and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Once soup is ready, top with lime, avocado, onion, cilantro, tortilla strips or chips. I was going to make tortilla strips but it started to get late and I was feeling lazy. Next time I will, but the chips were not a bad substitute.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Just a few notes:

When I first tasted the soup, prior to letting it simmer for 20 minutes, it was very bland. Give it a little time for the flavors to merry and I promise it’ll come together.

The poblano and cayenne give a mild heat. If you want it spicier you can include a jalapeno or hot sauce.

You can also add a can of diced tomatoes with the juices if you want some tomato chunks but I didn’t think it needed it.

Lastly, do not skip the lime. I forgot it at first and both Michael and I felt like something was missing, once we added the lime the whole soup came to life.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Enjoy your Monday and go make this soup!