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Posts tagged ‘purple basil’

Creamy Quinoa

I have found that when it comes to my dietary restrictions, one of the issues I have is that I miss certain textures. I miss crunchy, for example. It’s a hard thing to come by when you can’t eat grains and starchy veggies.

I also miss  rich & creamy. Pasta in alfredo sauce. Mashed potatoes. Risotto.

Risotto is actually what led me to the following recipe. My doctor recently cleared me to eat quinoa so I have new options! I am so excited. Quinoa is often referred to as a grain, but is, in fact, more of a seed. Furthermore, it is closely related to leafy greens, which is pretty awesome. Never had quinoa? Check this out:


I had some red quinoa on hand, and when my CSA box arrived, I was inspired by the smell of purple basil. What I really wanted was an amazing creamy risotto…or a basil cream sauce over pasta.

What I came up with was creamy quinoa.

I gathered my ingredients, All of my veggies/herbs were in my CSA box this week. Perfection. This could very easily be made into a vegan dish by skipping the cheese and subbing the butter. 🙂

1 pint of baby roma tomatoes

1 small white onion

3-4  cloves garlic

1 handful basil, finely chopped. (mine was purple…italian is good too.)

1/4 cup parm cheese (I think mozzarella would be yummy too!)

4 TBSP butter, divided

For the quinoa:

1 cup dry quinoa

2 tsp raw apple cider vinegar

1.5 cups water or bone broth

It was a very simple process and came together quickly. Just know that quinoa requires some soaking in order to remove the bitter coating on it. I always thought I hated quinoa until I learned to soak, and not just rinse it!

At least a few hours before preparing, soak your 1 cup of quinoa in about 1 cup of water. Add two tsp of raw apple cider vinegar (I always use bragg’s.) When you are ready to prepare it, rinse it really, really well, and add to your saucepan. Add the 1.5 cups of liquid (broth really makes a difference!) and bring to a boil. Once boiling, Put a lid on, drop the heat to low, and let it cook for about 15 minutes. You will know it is done with the liquid is gone, and all of your quinoa looks like it sprouted little white strings.

Set the quinoa aside.

In a blender or food processor, puree your onion.

Sautee the puree in 2 TBSP of butter.

While these are cooking, puree the tomatoes and garlic. ( I don’t rinse the processor out.)

Once the onion is translucent, add the tomato/garlic puree.

Cook until the liquid dissolves and it starts to thicken. (This took about 5-7 minutes)

Now, add the remaining butter, the parm cheese, and the quinoa. Toss until the cheese is melted and it starts to become creamy.

Top with basil at the very end, and toss to coat.

Serve  hot…or room temp…or cold. It’s good no matter what.

I topped mine with chicken breast…so yummy. I took a picture of it, but frankly, it doesn’t look appetizing. Terrible picture in bad lighting. Made it look like cafeteria food. 😉

It wasn’t risotto. Wasn’t pasta w/cream sauce, but it certainly was a tasty change from my usual protein + meat combination. Tasty, healthy, frugal and satisfying. Give it a try!

Herbs and Eggplant and Tomatoes, Oh My!

Alternatively titled: “How to cram a ton of veggies onto your plate making you feel less guilty for eating fried chicken.”







So in my CSA box this week, I went heavy on the herbs. Herbs are not only so good for you in so many ways, but they are very inspiring in the kitchen.

Here’s what came in this week’s box from “The Farmer’s Daughter CSA.” 

2 bundles of lemon balm

4 bundles of purple basil

2 bundles of lavender

2 vidalia onions

2 lbs of heirloom tomatoes

4 medium sized eggplant

Lemon balm is my new favorite obsession. The stuff smells like lemon drop candy, you guys. It is AMAZING. I made some mint/lemon-balm tea this weekend and it was fab. If I was eating sugar right now, it would have made some amazing mint/lemon-balm lemon-aid. Also, it is good for you, in so many ways. As someone who struggles with anxiety, I was very happy to see this from http://www.naturalsociety.com:

lemonbalm infographic

Here is how a ton of it ended up on our dinner plates last night:

1.) Lemon balm pesto. Yes, even with all that basil, I still chose an unconventional pesto approach.


Start with this:

2 cups Lemon balm leaves

3-4 heirloom tomatoes or 1 jar stewed tomatoes

1 vidalia onion

4 cloves garlic

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp. sea salt, pepper to taste


*Take the leaves from two bundles of lemon balm (about two cups), put them in a food processor

*Add four heirloom tomatoes, quartered and seeded.

*Toss in one vidalia onion, quartered.

*Add four garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp sea salt, pinch of pepper



Once all ingredients are smooth and combined, add 1/2 cup olive oil through your food processor cap. This can be done in a blender too. 🙂


You can eat it raw, (with crusty bread, or over fresh mozzarella cheese maybe?) or cook it down to reduce and make a pasta sauce out of it.  (30 minutes at a simmer until some of the liquid evaporates.) I reduced it, added about 1/2 tsp of arrowroot to thicken it, and threw it in the fridge until dinner time. Of course, we are not eating pasta right now, so we put ours over some awesome roasted eggplant and tomatoes. 🙂 No lie though, I pretended it was pasta.

“Roasted eggplant and tomatoes?  Who needs pasta?”,  you say?

Exactly! By now you have probably caught on that I am pretty determined to figure out eggplant.

Here’s how I made another step towards mastering the art of eggplant preparation:

Gather ingredients.

Heirloom tomatoes (you decide how many, I used one large tomato)

Eggplant (I used two small/medium ones)

1/4 cup basil leaves (I used purple)

A couple of sliced garlic cloves

Pinch of sea salt and pepper

2 TBSP (or so) of olive oil.


The rest is very easy.

*Slice eggplant in 1/4 in disks. Put into mixing bowl.

*Slice tomato the same. Add to bowl.

*Pull basil leaves off stem. Yep, add those too.

*Slice garlic, and throw it in…

*Sprinkle w/sea salt and pepper

*Drizzle with olive oil.


Lay everything out over a parchment paper line cookie sheet.


Bake at 425* for 35-40 minutes.

We ate ours with reheated lemon balm pesto and *ahem* gluten free fried chicken. I will post that recipe separately so as not to taint all of this veggie goodness with our decadence.


Next time you go to Farmer’s Market or order your CSA box, try a new herb! It’s amazing how much your kitchen creativity expands when you stretch yourself. 🙂

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