Friday, January 20, 2012

Lunch Project: Week 6

So I stumbled across this recipe when looking for neato lunch ideas for Jamie. I paused, not because it didn't look delicious, but because of the large amount of fat in this dish. The recipe as is is totally Atkins/South Beach/Lo Carb whatever friendly, however I'm on a low fat, moderate carb diet. I've been thinking more and more about whether or not that MATTERS, but as it is, it has worked. Pesto is one of my guilty pleasures. It's not quite at the level of peanut butter (which could be deemed an obsession), but it's still up there.

I could get around a lot of the oil in the recipe. Pam is great like that. Just use a little for the roasted tomatoes and a little to fry up the shallots and garlic. And the more I stared at the recipe the more I just justified how 1/3 cup of pesto was not going to KILL my diet. If I got six servings out of it it would only be 1/18th of a cup per serving I actually told a friend. So, having fully justified my oil choices, I headed to the supermarket.
There was no pesto! Haha! A sign from the Gods! I was still determined to make the recipe, but to modify it. I feel like it changed enough for me to repost what I did here.

a couple splashes of extra-virgin olive oil - divided
a pinch of fine grain sea salt
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups red quinoa
3 cups water
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
1 bag kale, spinach or other hearty green (or as much as your preference is!)
1 block extra-firm tofu
Paprika (optional)
1/3 cup Romano cheese (plus more for serving)
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted*
Sprinkle of soy sauce (optional)
1 carton cherry tomatoes
Spoonful of brown sugar

The whole thing took me about 45 minutes to whip up! I started with roasting the tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Mix together the sugar and just enough olive oil to coat the tomatoes. Toss the cherries in the mixture and arrange on some parchment paper on a baking tray - cut sides up. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 45 minutes or until they look shrunk and sweet.

I then boiled the water, added the quinoa and cooked it until the water was absorbed - about 15 minutes.

While that cooked, I drained and cut the tofu into bite sized pieces and then tossed it in just enough cornstarch to cover it. I fried it in Pam until it started getting crispy and brown (or however cooked you like your tofu!). I cooked it on two sides for about 5 minutes each side. Cooking time will vary depending on how drained your tofu was. I then sprinkled a little paprika on top. Totally optional but delicious and let the cooked tofu sit on a paper towel.

Then, in a large skillet heat a little bit of olive oil and salt over medium-high heat. Stir in the shallot and garlic and cook for a minute or two. Stir in the spinach until it's more or less reduced and then add corn and cook until heated through.

Stir in the quinoa and corn and cook until hot and sizzling and then the tofu, cooking until tofu is heated through. Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the cheese and pumpkin seeds. Mix well. Turn everything out onto a platter and top with the cherry tomatoes and a sprinkle of Romano cheese.

Serves 4 - 6.

*I put some pumpkin seeds in my toaster oven and cooked them for a short while in some soy sauce. The pumpkin seeds puff a teeny bit and absorb the soy sauce. If you're not into that, just toasting them would be sufficient, I'm sure!

Today, Jamie adapted this recipe pretty severely. I tried to get her to type up her own recipe but she said she followed that recipe except with no tomatoes. To quote: "Basically we're having soup of chickpeas, mushrooms, kale, basil, carrots, onions, and garlic." The mushrooms gave it a real earthy feel.

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