Recipes For Your Busy Week: Squash, Quinoa, and Brussels Sprouts

quinoa-cakesThe Joy of Quinoa

Quinoa Cakes with Broccoli & Tomatoes

If quinoa gets any more popular, I think Iowa will scrap its Corn Belt for a Quinoa Belt. (Although winters might be tricky for a South American crop.) Seems like every grocery store stocks quinoa; every magazine features it in recipes. But quinoa really does deserve the hype: it’s a whole grain, it cooks in ten minutes, it’s a complete protein – a rarity in the plant world – and it looks incredibly cute when you simmer it and the outer bran starts to curl away from the center each grain. I think of quinoa as “the curlicue grain.” And quinoa even grows in three different colors: black, red, and a creamy tan. You just can’t ask a grain to be any more festive or convenient. (It’s worth noting here that quinoa is actually an edible seed, not a grain. Since it’s prepared the way grains are typically prepared, though, it falls into the grain category in mainstream cuisine. Kind of like tomatoes are commonly considered to be vegetables even though they’re biologically fruit.)

These crispy cakes are easy to make, easy to reheat, and make a great snack or a base for a meal. The critical part is letting them cook undisturbed for a full 10 minutes (or perhaps eight if you have a scorchingly hot stove) so that the egg and cheese can set into place and stick the quinoa together. Feel free to use two egg whites rather than one to give yourself more stick-together power. (The majority of the protein in an egg is in the white, and protein is what solidifies and sets. Yolks have protein, too, but not nearly as much – that’s why the yolk in a sunny-side-up egg is still runny even though the white is firmly set.)

Quinoa Cakes with Broccoli & Tomatoes

Makes about 12 cakes.

About 2/3 cup raw quinoa (quinoa roughly triples in volume when cooked)

1 heaping cup almond flour, either store-bought or homemade (whirr sliced almonds in a small food processor for a few seconds)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or more if you like)

1 egg, preferably from pastured hens

1/2 tsp. sea salt


Cherry tomatoes, halved

Balsamic vinegar

Extra-virgin olive oil

Bring 1 1/3 cups water to a boil in a medium pot. Stir in quinoa and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until quinoa has absorbed all of the water and you see those cute little tails. Remove from heat and stir in almond flour, Parmesan, egg, and salt.

Heat a dab of ghee or butter in a large skillet over medium heat until ghee is melted. (Ghee is clarified butter; not only does it handle heat beautifully, it makes for a gorgeous golden-brown sauté and has a very rich flavor.) With a heat-proof measuring cup – I used a metal one – scoop out 1/4 cup of the quinoa mixture and gently press it into the cup, adding more if necessary to fill the cup. Tap the quinoa out of the cup and onto the skillet, being very careful not to mar the skillet with the edge of the cup. If you’re stuck with a plastic cup, do NOT touch the skillet with the cup at all. Use the bottom of the cup to gently flatten the quinoa, pressing it into a round patty.

You can cook as many cakes at a time as you like, but leave them some breathing room since you’ll need to flip them over. (I have a square griddle pan that easily accommodates 4 cakes.) Let cakes cook undisturbed for at least 8 minutes before you gently lever one of them up to peer underneath. When the cakes are golden brown, flip them over and cook another 5 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack or serve immediately.

To embellish my cakes, I simmered some broccoli florets in water for about 3 minutes while the cakes were cooking, then topped the cakes with the drained broccoli, halved tomatoes, and a drizzle of vinegar and oil.

Leftover cakes can be refrigerated for up to a week. They reheat quite nicely in a toaster oven.


Courtesy of The Cultured Cook.

scrambled-eggs-with-squashAn End-of-Summer Squash Fest!

Scrambled Eggs with Chives, Tomatoes & Roasted Squash

‘Tis the season for squash: zucchini, crookneck squash, butternut squash, squashes of every shape and color. You might be feeling overwhelmed by it all. (Even if you don’t have a garden, a well-intentioned neighbor may have given you some of her rampantly growing squash.) But don’t worry – squash is delectable when roasted. And as an added bonus, the roasting process shrinks the squash quite a bit, so the overwhelming mound of squash becomes welcoming platefuls of squash. Just be sure to remove the seeds before roasting. (You can rinse them well and roast the seeds separately for a 2-in-1 deal.) I used crookneck squash a gardening friend had given me for this dish, but feel free to use whatever squash you have on hand.

Scrambled Eggs with Chives, Tomatoes & Roasted Squash

Serves 2 for a hearty breakfast, plus you’ll probably have leftover squash to use in plenty of other dishes.

Squash of your choice, ends and seeds removed, flesh sliced into thin rounds

Unrefined peanut oil OR coconut oil OR melted ghee OR melted butter (no, your final dish won’t taste like peanuts; although unrefined peanut oil is incredibly fragrant, it’s quite mellow once it’s been baked or sautéed)

4 eggs, preferably from pastured hens

2 medium tomatoes, each tomato cut into about 16 wedges (quarter it, quarter each quarter, and then cut each quarter in half)

Chives, snipped into short pieces

Preheat oven to 375F and cover at least 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. (Or just 1 sheet if you’re only roasting one medium-sized zucchini. I say “medium-sized” because I recently saw a gargantuan zucchini that was bigger than my forearm. Seriously. When my friend told me how big it was, I didn’t believe him – I had to witness it in person.)

In a large bowl, toss the sliced squash with a drizzle of oil, a few shakes of sea salt, and some grinds of fresh peppercorns. Spread out on sheet(s), making sure to leave a little bit of room between each slice. Bake for 25 minutes or until the slices are turning golden brown. (For very thin slices, start checking them at 20 minutes.) Slide the squash off of the baking sheet – but still on the parchment – onto wire racks to cool it quickly.

While the squash cools, whisk the eggs in the large bowl. Stir in tomatoes, chives, and about 15 slices of cooled squash.

Heat a dab of ghee or butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When ghee is melted, add eggs. Cook, occasionally turning over the eggs, for 3 to 5 minutes or until eggs are softly cooked through. Serve immediately, topped with grated cheese if you like.

Leftover squash can be refrigerated for up to a week and used in everything from pasta dishes (try using it in place of the pasta!) to stir-frys to puréed dips. Or freeze the squash for even later use – since it’s supposed to be soft and not crunchy, freezing and then thawing it won’t damage its texture.


Courtesy of The Cultured Cook.

brussels-sproutsHashed Brussels Sprouts


Brussels sprouts are, for many, an especially difficult vegetable to love. That’s largely because most people have had only steamed-into-mush versions. If that’s been your experience, try this recipe, which preserves the sprouts’ toothsome texture, and complements their subtle sweet flavor with savory and spicy notes. Sprouts dry out quickly after harvest; make an effort to get the freshest ones you can find for this dish.

Food as Medicine

Brussels sprouts are a rich source of glucosinolates, nutrients that provide building blocks from which the body constructs a variety of cancer-protective compounds. They also provide abundant antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin A (as beta-carotene).

Serves 2

Nutrients Per Serving:

Calories 182

Fat 6 g

Saturated fat 3.5 g (27.9% of calories from fat)

Protein 15.5 g

Carbohydrate 21 g

Cholesterol 14.5 mg

Fiber 8.5 g


1 lb Brussels sprouts

2 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 tsp hot red pepper flakes or to taste

1/4 tsp nutmeg or to taste, preferably freshly grated

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional

salt to taste


Trim ends off Brussels sprouts and remove any discolored outer leaves.

Cut or chop the sprouts roughly (1/4 inch pieces). You should have about 4 cups.

Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt, and sauté, stirring frequently, until onion is golden.

Add the chopped sprouts, and sauté, stirring frequently, until sprouts are bright green and crunchy tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the nutmeg and mix well.

Turn off heat, add the optional grated cheese, and mix well.

Serve at once.

Courtesy of Dr. Andrew Weil.

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