Now, I'll admit it, I'm a by-the-book recipe gal. I'm not a very intuitive cook. It's only after I try a recipe exactly as it's written that I tweak it the next time. For me to decide to make something original means I need to find a little inspiration. I looked to one of my favorite cookbooks, The Wellness Kitchen, and specifically to its rice pilaf creator chart. The charts in this cookbook allow you to pick and choose ingredients, but they still guide you through the steps of making something. (There are charts for soups, poultry in parchment packets, and more.)
I replaced the rice with quinoa, a favorite grain of mine, and using round zucchini from the Farmers' Market, I made the following dish. It turned out pretty damn good!
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon powdered, low-sodium vegetable stock
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 yellow or white onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, grated
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted (walnuts would work, too)
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
salt and black pepper
4 round zucchini squash, about 8-10 ounces each
1-1/2 tablespoons Madras curry
two pinches of turbinado sugar (white or brown sugar will do)
a generous handful of golden raisins
plain, lowfat yogurt (or soy yogurt)
1.) Put the quinoa, water, bay leaf and veggie powder in a pot; cover and bring to a boil. It should take about 15 minutes for the quinoa to cook.
2.) In a separate small pan, cook the onion, red pepper, and carrot in a teaspoon of oil. About halfway through the quinoa cooking time, you can add the mixture of onion, red pepper, and carrot to the quinoa, along with the almonds, the sage and salt and pepper to taste.
3.) Slice the tops off the squash, and scoop out the zucchini meat. (I discard the watery, seedy parts in such a dish; I find they make it too watery. I use just the firm parts.) Put the zucchini with a teaspoon of oil, the curry powder and the sprinkle of sugar in the same small pan you used for the other vegetables. Cover, and cook for about five minutes over medium heat.
4.) Add the zucchini mixture to the quinoa. Add the raisins now, too. Stir, then cover the pot, but take it off the heat.
5.) Rub a little oil on the outside of the zucchini rounds. Fill them with the quinoa mixture. (You will probably have some quinoa left to serve on the side.*) Put their tops back on, and bake in a 350-degree oven -- I like to use a clay pot for this -- for about 30 minutes. The zucchini are done when they are tender but not mushy.
Serve with plain, lowfat yogurt or soy yogurt on the side.
* Don't know what to do with the leftover quinoa filling? See my recipe for quinoa patties.