Just for kicks, I googled “vegetarian least favorite day of the year” and the top result was -do I really need to say this?- Thanksgiving really sucks for vegetarians. Yep, it’s the least favorite day of the year, no contest. I think most vegetarians fantasize about having the option of cowering in the closet amid the impending doom and dread of being a social outcast on this most sociable of family centric holidays. Or drink. Heavily.
Me, I’ve become quite fond of mashed potatoes and carrots. I miss green beans but not the bacon that is snuggled in there with them. Or in the case of passive aggressive relatives, it’s smuggled; they think you won’t notice. Really? Sans direct evidence, the tip off is wafting pork flavoring, not subtle that one. Then, invariably over dinner, someone charitably suggests that eating turkey is okay because it’s like chicken, you know, poultry, meaning it’s “not meat” leaving me with the oddest compulsion to stand and deliver a full blown PSA, tapping the lectern as I go through powerpoint slides on the constitution of animal proteins. Like I said, social outcast -even though I do or say no such thing. By default, if you’re a vegetarian, you’re the party pooper -guaranteed. That’s why alcohol can be immensely useful to ingratiate oneself to the hostess except, my family doesn’t drink. They have nothing against it but it’s not a habit so no one thinks to bring any. So I am sure to. I like to bring a variety that always gets a giggle.
In all seriousness my family is good natured about it. They’ve actually enjoyed things I’ve brought, enough to request a repeat performance. Such as my quinoa recipe. Quinoa (keen-wah) is a highly nutritious grain, a so called “super food” with loads of protein. It is also a complete protein with all the amino acids your body needs. It has no gluten either making it ideal for lactose or gluten intolerants alike. It is versatile like rice and similar in texture to couscous. If you need a dietary option for someone at your table, here’s my recipe best as I can recall it:
Quinoa, mexican style.
2 cups Quinoa
1 chopped onion
Garlic and salt
3-4 mediumish sized tomatoes, chopped
Vegetable bullion or broth
However you break up the proportions of bullion and water is up to you but you need 2 cups of liquid to every cup of quinoa. Some say the ratio is 1:3 but then some say it’s 1:1-1/2. So, I use 1:2 and it works for me. I generally use one or sometimes two cubes of the Knorr vegetable bullion. I use the fat softish cubes that come 6 to a box you keep in the fridge, not the dry hard little ones that come in a small bottle.
Put the quinoa in a pot with an inch or two of water to cover it and let it boil for about five or six minutes. The water will become yellow and you’ll notice some bubbles on the top that look like soap. That’s because it is. Saponins coat the grains which protect the plant from insects. I guess soap tastes nasty to them too.
Drain the quinoa in a fine colander and rinse it several times till the water runs clear.
In a skillet, add a little oil to sautee the garlic and chopped onion. When the onion and garlic is nearly done, add the quinoa, stirring it well to coat all the grains.
Add your liquids, throw the tomatoes in (don’t bother stirring them in, they’ll end up on top anyway) and turn the heat up to bring it to a boil. Once it boils, turn the heat down to its lowest setting and cover it. Cook for 20 minutes. In other words, you cook it exactly like steamed rice. Or at least, that’s the way I cook rice. This makes …oh… let’s say 6 servings. In my family, it serves 3 with enough left over I can have it for lunch the next day. Obviously your mileage may vary.
Well, there you go. A recipe, first ever. Food and Fashion go hand in hand. Be safe, be happy and I hope your holiday is grand!