Mexican Quinoa

In San Diego there was a fast food restaurant that I sort of fell in love with. The place was called CBW, I’m pretty sure it stands for Crazy Bowls & Wraps, and they serve salads, bowls, and wraps. What I really liked about this place was that they had 3 options for filling. White rice, brown rice, and quinoa(!!). Quinoa is not something that you usually see at a fast food restaurant, but I absolutely love it. It’s a super food because it is a complete protein, high in dietary fiber, magnesium, and iron, and it is a source of calcium. Needless to say, when I saw it on the menu the first time we went there I was pretty excited.

I had 2 favorite menu items that I liked to order and when I saw this Mexican Quinoa on Annie’s Eats last year, it immediately reminded me of one of those items. So I made it for dinner one night and it has quickly become a staple in our meal rotation. It’s quick and easy, filling, and super good for you. Over the year I have made some adaptations and bumped up the veggie content (to more closely match the bowl at CBW). That’s the other great thing about this meal, it’s another one that is versatile. You can adjust the veggies, add extra spices, use different kinds of canned tomatoes. When I photographed this meal I used fire roasted tomatoes and added smoked paprika and a dash of Chipotle chile powder to give it a bit of slow-cooked smokey taste. I love that I can make small adjustments like that so the meal isn’t exactly the same every time I make it (though it has always been delicious!).

 

 

Here are some other delicious, and easy, vegetarian dishes!
Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad
Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole
Squash and Kale Pizza
Grilled Vegetable Panzanella

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad

As I mentioned yesterday, I have been craving tangy dressing a lot lately. I’ve also noticed that I’ve been gravitating towards lighter, springy-er dishes. That could be pregnancy related or could be that I’m just really ready to move on from heavy winter dishes (even if I do live in San Diego). Either way, when a friend on a cooking message board I frequent mentioned a pasta salad including asparagus, I was immediately intrigued. Suddenly vegetable pasta salad combinations were just swirling around in my head and I knew exactly what we were having for dinner.

The plan was for me to make grilled chicken and serve it with a large side of this Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad. The look on Jesse’s face when I told him the plan was kind of comical. He was sure that there should be some other side, or something! Much to his surprise (and my delight!) he loved dinner and he even felt full. It just goes to show that dinner doesn’t have to be heavy to be good. The leftovers also made an awesome lunch!

 

Here are a few more lighter side dish ideas!

Tangy Mustard Coleslaw
Southwest Pasta Salad
Spicy Cold Noodles

Summer Sweet Corn Fettuccine

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, one really great thing about living in China is the accessibility to all sorts of fresh produce. I’m within walking distance to a wet market with probably 20 stands of nothing but fresh fruits and vegetables. A lot like the farmers markets that take place on the weekends in the summer in the US – except that it’s every day all year long.  Even better are the prices. And the freebies – the girl at my favorite stand won’t let me leave without giving me something (usually green onions and cilantro) for free. 🙂 The corn has been especially delicious lately and it’s been made a lot of appearances at our dinner table.

This Summer Sweet Corn Fettuccine seemed like a perfect use for the corn cobs I came home with a few weekends ago. And I really did love it. I did make a few adjustments to the recipe. I initially was going to cut everything in half, but then the sauce didn’t seem like it would be enough for the pasta (even though I was using less pasta) so I added additional milk. So in the end I used less corn than the original recipe, but it honestly seemed like just enough, any more might have been *too* much. As always though, I’ll list the recipe as I made it and link to the original, so it’s your call!