There is a growing trend out there to eat less meat and i see more and more references to ‘meat free mondays’ popping up all the time. Supporters claim that downing the steak knife and upping the lentil patties has not only health benefits for the nation but also environmental benefits as meat production is high on the old ‘carbon footprint’
I will admit that the initial move in this house to adopt meat free nights selfishly came down to our own cost of living instead of the cost on the environment. Once we hit a single income household, the daily protein haul of red meat and chicken was just so expensive and i found that by upping the meat free recipes into the weekly menu meant less strain on the food budget. Initially it took a lot more effort to think of meat free nutritious meals (which seems silly now – it is easy). I was not used to cooking this way and had to learn new ways of cooking that utilised legumes, pulses and vegetables. Now, I love the butchers out there dearly but i have to say we have never looked back and as time has gone on have found some absolute ‘meat-free’ favourites that MUST appear on the dinner table time and time again. Even the ‘Stand in Chef’ who loves his meat also loves his meat free nights.
When it comes to the kids though i am always conscious of their little bellies and the importance of giving them plenty of protein to grow and thrive. My success with getting them to eat lentils, eggs and tofu (i admit, have not even tried this one on the kids yet) is limited. However a great little star-food i have found it Quinoa. Over the years as i have become more confident with using it, i have found it to be very versatile and easy way to get some nutrient rich protein in their mouths. It is packed with protien, fibre, calcium, folate, magnesium and zinc. So for picky eaters – every mouthful packs a punch.
This recipe it probably the most successful ‘Quinoa’ meal we have in this house in terms of the empty plate, happy faces scale. But there is one key thing to remember with the quinoa that will make or break any quinoa dish –
Rinse, rinse, rinse and rinse it well
Quinoa has a natural residue on it call saponin. Whilst the seeds are often washed and rinsed of this before packaging there is often some left on it. If it is not removed it gives a slightly bitter or furry taste to it. It took me some time before i really got this message through my head – and for some time i liked but did not love quinoa. Learn from my mistake and follow this rule. Don’t just give it a quick rinse under water, give it the full TLC day spa treatment. I cover it in water, give it a good swish around with my hands then drain through a fine strainer. Keep repeating this until the water is clear (usually takes 3 – 4 rinses)
Anyway, enough babble – dinner time!
So after rinsing (please read above again!) i cooked 1 cup quinoa with a pinch of salt in 2 cups of water. Bring the water and quinoa to the boil then simmer with the lid on for about 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa seed is tender but not mushy. Fluff up with a fork and set aside to cool.
Then it is time to get your other fillings ready. You can use what ever ingredients you like or you know will get eaten BUT it is a good idea to add avocado and cheese to help keep the quinoa in place.
The options are endlesss…..corn kernels, spinach, grated carrot, capsicum……what ever your heart desires.
Then i used some rye tortillas (or make your own…watch this blog space for more information) and simply sandwich the ingredients between two tortillas
Once golden and brown, remove from the pan and slice up into wedges. We had ours with some corn. A winner meal and I will let the pictures do the talking on this one