Thursday, May 23, 2013

Adventures in Vegetarian Cooking: Quinoa Salad

Eating meat has been a subject that I have long sought to reconcile with myself.  I've gone through periods of not eating meat, eating no animal products whatsoever (that was short lived), only eating pastured animals.  I will admit for the majority of the time I've eaten the most convenient/cheapest: factory farmed meat.   I won't go into the ethics of factory farmed meat, everyone knows it and everyone makes their own choices.  I'll just say for me, it is a choice that creates conflict within myself: for cruelty reasons, for health reasons, and for environmental reasons.

I'm also married to someone who thinks a meal isn't complete without meat.  So in an ideal world Kevin and I would only eat pastured animals -- the ones who spend their lives on actual farms living the way they did 150 years ago.  Animals that have had a good life and a quick death (which is my personal goal as well).  However, eating pastured animals is a lot more expensive and we're thrifty.  I want to invest in a big freezer so we can buy pastured meat in bulk.  I just got off the phone with a farmer who has pastured pigs and he charges $2/pd hanging weight if you buy half a pig.  $2/pd seems cheap to me!  You have to buy 100-150 pds at a time and pay the butcher separately which I guess is the rub.  I also plan to make a lot more vegetarian meals and see if we can cut down significantly.  It is better for our health and our budget.

I've been reading this blog by a vegan/vegetarian chef who is very inspiring.  We've cooked with quinoa a couple of times before so I knew that we liked it.  Seemed like a safe place to start.

Quinoa is a complete protein by itself (the only grain that is I believe) but I decided to add black beans and corn too (corn or rice makes black beans a complete protein).

I buy black beans dry in bulk. It is cheaper and we don't have to worry about BPA.  It cuts down a bit on the convenience factor, since I have to remember to slow cook them in our superpot for 8 hours.  But if I plan ahead, it adds about 5 minutes.

I always make extra and freeze them too, so next time I'll have the convenience of canned beans.

So for the salad I used black beans,

and quinoa (at this point I realized I needed a bigger bowl).

For the dressing I initially did lime, salt, pepper and olive oil but it was a bit boring.  I added some garam marsala spice that I got for Indian food which spiced it up really nicely.

I put avocado and cheddar cheese on top and served it alongside a baked sweet potato.

Between the quinoa, the beans and corn, and the cheese, this was packed with protein.  As well as lots of other good stuff.  It was really filling too.  And since we got dinner and several lunches each out of it, pretty cost effective.  What did the meat lover in our family think?

Thumbs up!  I am looking forward to making this again when the tomatoes and corn are in season and local.

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