Saturday, October 27, 2012

Warm Quinoa Salad

A lot has been happening around here! DH continues to fight his thyroid cancer; he had to have a radioactive iodine treatment a few days ago. We sent the kids and dogs away for a several days since he is giving off radiation and it would not be safe for them to be here. I'm still at home but I can't be in the same room with him. He's also not allowed to prepare food for anyone but himself, he has to sleep alone, he has to use a separate bathroom, and so on for a week. He also has to follow a low iodine diet which is really restrictive. No iodized or sea salt is the number one priority, which means almost no processed foods. No restaurant food either, since you can never know what kind of salt they use for sure, and no dairy since they clean the equipment that milks the cows with iodine. (Who knew!!) It's turned our kitchen upside down, but we're managing. He has to be on the special diet for about 3 weeks, starting two weeks prior to the treatment and one week after, so he's almost to the end. He says he's going to bring home 3 pizzas from his next appointment, which is when he can go back to eating normally. He's doing well, too; no nasty side effects so far. (And there are a LOT of nasty side effects possible, so whew!!)

As for his diet, we've been making almost everything from scratch. I've made him bread and muffins, we've cooked up a ton of dried beans, and he's made homemade veggie broth. It's made me realize that even though we use far less processed foods than the average American family, we still rely on the convenience of canned beans and store-bought broth way more than we should. It's been a tasty experience- cooking from scratch is usually delicious, but very, very, VERY time consuming and labor intense. I've been cooking everything for our shared meals since his treatment, something I'm not used to for sure! I'm very spoiled that way; I usually only cook two or three meals every week. DH cooks lunch every day, Martha Jr. cooks several dinners per week, sometimes I can get The Eldest to cook a meal, and we'll either go out to eat or bring home take out for the rest.

Today I just didn't feel like cooking beans again and I wanted something quick and tasty, so I turned to quinoa. We usually have quinoa as a base for Mexican, either tortillas or quesadillas, but it can be used for salads and pilaf-style dishes just like rice or pasta. DH can't have the tortillas or tacos so I wanted to come up with a tasty pilaf-y something or other. Here's the recipe for my dish, and it tasted pretty good if I do say so myself! I didn't measure so this is one where you have to taste as you go, especially at the end when you mix everything together. I've read other quinoa recipes and this is probably similar, but it's my particular take on those.

Warm Quinoa Salad

~ Cooked quinoa (I cooked it with DH’s homemade veggie broth; half veggie broth/half water would have been fine)
(To cook the quinoa, place 1 cup uncooked quinoa in a covered microwave safe dish, add a drizzle of olive oil, some salt and pepper, then add 2 cups of liquid; microwave on high for 9 minutes with the cover on then let sit until all liquid is absorbed- thank you Melissa D'Arabian.)(Or you could cook it on the stove following the package directions, which would probably taste a little better. The microwave is a shortcut but the quinoa seems fluffier when cooked on the stove.)

Diced veggies:
~ Onions (I used half of a large Vidalia)
~ Sweet peppers (I used 3 small, one each red, orange, yellow)
~ Carrot (1 good sized; 2 would have been better)
~ Cucumber (I only used a small bit I had left over, but could have used more)
~ Yellow cherry tomatoes (I cut them in half and used a lot since they are so yummy)
~ Medjool dates, pits removed and diced (I used about 5 or 6)

~ Olive oil to taste (just a drizzle at the end since olive oil is added to the quinoa and to the sautéed vegetables as they cook)
~ Balsamic vinegar to taste (a generous drizzle)

~ Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté the carrots, onions, and peppers in olive oil until they are caramelized and delicious; season with salt and pepper to taste as they cook.

Once the quinoa has absorbed all cooking liquid, add the rest of the ingredients and stir well to combine, tasting it for more salt/pepper/oil/vinegar. (Go slow when adding these ingredients, starting with maybe a couple of teaspoons of the olive oil and a tablespoon of vinegar, if I remember my amounts correctly- too much of any one of them can throw the whole thing off. That's why I added the dates at the last second- it tasted kind of off without them, but then I threw them in and they balanced it all out perfectly.)

Serve warm.

DH said it was the best thing I've cooked for him- can't beat that!! :)


kometes said...

Dairy is banned because iodine occurs naturally in milk.

Thanks for the meal, hon, but you'll never make it that good again...

Kim said...

Well, whatever. Some mention of iodine-as-cleaner was made at some point. Could have sworn it was dairy products. ???