A Simple Lunch

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

   I have a theory about the relativity of time. I think as we get older time goes by faster and faster because the days, weeks, months and years seem smaller and smaller compared to all the days, weeks, months and years we've been on this earth. When I was a child, for instance, a month was a virtual eternity. I distinctly remember entire nights before Christmas that seemed to have their very own spring, summer, fall and winter. Now, years later, a night seems so fleeting. A week is here and gone before I can catch my breath.

   All this to say, I've been quiet on this space for quite some time, but in my defense, it is a very small amount of time compared to how long I've been on this earth. No excuse, but still.

   So much has happened! Steve and I adopted this lovely little girl:

   Her name is Audrey and I love her so much that I don't care she's ripped holes in the bottoms of all my PJ pants as she follows me around the kitchen. Steve loves her so much he doesn't care that she's festooned his favorite pair of leisure shoes with millions of puppy teeth puncture wounds.

   Most exciting of all however is my food news! Steve and I are slowly but surely removing meat from our daily lives. Me! Daughter of a beef farmer, lover of all things meat pie and meat sauced, sidling away from meat. It has been several weeks since this change and I have to say, I feel great.

   This came about after a number of events. For one, we watched an eye opening documentary called Forks Over Knives (I highly recommend a viewing!), for another, our grocery bill is drastically smaller when we avoid the meat and dairy sections. Finally, as a lover of nutrition and food, the earth and preventative medicine, I simply cannot deny the harm our American style meat consumption causes.

   We do still eat meat occasionally (turkey was a must for Christmas dinner), and I don't consider myself a vegetarian or vegan. Steve calls it 'plant based eating' which I think is lovely and fitting. I'm proud to say that in the last several weeks we have eaten meat for only one to two meals per week.

   As a result, expect lots of delicious bean, grain and veggie recipes! I'm excited about this endeavor, I hope you are too, and I hope you squeeze in at least a couple days a week of meat free eating, if not for your heart, then just for fun.

   One of the biggest lessons I'm getting out of this mini revolution is how different my approach to creating a meal has to be. Traditionally, a meal is constructed around some center piece of fish or meat. With the fish and meat removed from the equation I find one can quickly spiral into aimlessness. I've decided to apply the same principle of planning a meat based meal to a plant based one- I simply decide what it is Steve and I are craving, figure out how to highlight that ingredient, and plan the rest of the food around that. What we crave can be anything- a bean, a grain, a noodle, a vegetable, or even spice- it really doesn't matter. So far this approach has worked famously.

   To kick things off, and in honor of the New Year, I would like to share with you a simple and very satisfying dish that I created around my craving for butternut squash. I added lightly caramelized onions for flavor, collard greens for color, and quinoa for protein. Presto! A complete dish. Plus, collards traditionally bring good health and luck when eaten on the New Year. Enjoy and happy New Year!

Butternut Squash Quinoa with Collards

1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 large well washed collard green leaves, cut into 1 inch ribbons
3 cups butternut squash, cut to large dice
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
Salt, to taste

   In a medium sized heavy bottomed sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium low heat. Add the onion and sprinkle with salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and starting to lightly brown. Add the collards, cover again and cook until wilted. If the onions and collards seems dry or stick to the bottom of the pan, add a small amount of water. Once the collards have wilted, add the butternut squash and more water if needed, plus another sprinkle of salt. Cover and cook over medium low heat for ten minutes.
   Add the quinoa and water, bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the quinoa has absorbed most of the water, 15 to 20 minutes. At this point, taste some quinoa and, if tender, remove the lid and cook off and remaining liquid until the desired texture is achieved. If still crunchy, keep cooking with cover on until it is tender. Season to taste with salt.
   Serves 2.



  1. I adore quinoa and can't get enough new recipes utilizing this ancient grain. Putting this on my must-try list!

    1. Quinoa is a perfect addition to nearly any salad to make it meal sized. One of my favorites to do this with is my Pepita and Beet Salad! Instant work lunches. http://pinchofflavor.blogspot.com/2014/04/in-flash.html