No Croutons Required - The winner for November

The winner of the November challenge which featured quinoa is Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook with this most tempting Vegetarian Avgolemono Soup with Quinoa. Such a unique and inspired dish with eggs, herbs, fresh lemon and carrot and of course quinoa.

Jacqueline will be hosting the December edition of No Croutons Required. Like we have done before in December for the past few years, we are deviating from our usual practice of featuring soups and salads and are asking for festive photos. You can submit a landscape photo, picture of your Christmas baking treats or decorations - basically anything that you feel represents the holiday season.

Spicy Mung Beans with Tomato and Onions

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Though my favorite bean is probably chickpeas, mung beans are a close second. The addition of fresh tomato and un-fried onion and green chilies add a nice crunch to this spicy dish. I have adapted the recipe from 1000 Indian Recipes. This extensive collection of delights was a gift from my dear friend Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook. As I noted before, this cookbook is not strictly vegetarian, but there are lots of vegan and vegetarian ideas for spice blends, condiments, starters and snacks, soups, salads, vegetables dishes, paneer, legumes, curries, breads, desserts and beverages. I particularly enjoy the wide range of recipes from various regions of India.
Spicy Mung Beans with Tomatoes and Onions

1 cup of mung beans, washed and soaked for a few hours
2 cups of water
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon of dried red chilies
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of mango powder (amchoor)
a generous handful of fresh parsley
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 - 2 fresh green chilies, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of olive or sesame oil
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 tablespoon of ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne

Drain the mung beans and rinse. Transfer to a medium size saucepan, along with the water, turmeric, salt and dried red chilies. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed - roughly 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Stir in the mango powder and parsley and transfer to a serving dish. Gently mix in the tomato, onion and green chillies.

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, toss in the cumin seeds and stir and fry until they darken a few shades. Add the coriander and cayenne, stir a few times and pour over the mung beans.

Serves 4 - 6.
Other Mung Bean dishes that you will be sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Mung Bean Paneer
Spicy Mung Bean Soup with Coconut Milk
Indian Sour Mung Bean Soup
Savory Mung Bean Pancakes

On the top of the reading stack: Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey by Najmieh Batmanglij

Audio Accompaniment: Kwark

No Croutons Required - Quinoa

The challenge for November was to come up with a soup or salad featuring the mighty quinoa. Please do cast your vote in the comment section or via email. Please note that my submission is not eligible for voting. Thanks to everyone who submitted an entry this month.
Our first entry comes from Tigerfish of An Escape to Food who submits this tempting Butter and Black Pepper Mushrooms with Quinoa & Brown Rice Salad. Who could possibly resist this combination of quinoa, King/Trumpet Oyster mushrooms, butter, sea salt and black pepper? (California, USA)

Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe is up next with this most healthy and pretty Curried Quinoa, Chickpea and Red Lentil Soup. Onion, carrots, celery, garlic, ginger, curry powder, promite, seeded mustard, chili paste, smoked paprika, lentils, veggie stock, tomatoes, chickpeas, quinoa with a dollop of yogurt are combined for a meal fit for a king and queen. (Melbourne, Australia)

Mango Cheeks of Allotment 2 Kitchen submits this lovely Spiced Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas and Mango Chutney. Quinoa, chili flakes, baby spinach, chickpeas and mango chutney make for one healthy dish indeed that is a complete and balanced meal. (West of Scotland, UK)

Susan of Holly Grove Kitchen enters this month with a mouthwatering Quinoa, Courgette and Dolcelatte Salad. Quinoa, Courgette, red onion, cherry tomatoes, red chili, dolcelatte, red wine vinegar and olive oil are tossed together to create this wonderful salad that could not fail to please lovers of this most delicious grain. (Shropshire, UK)

Janet of Taste Space contributes this gorgeous Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa Salad. Black beans, quinoa, tomatoes, green onions, fresh mint are combined and dressed with lime zest, fresh lime juice, olive oil and maple syrup. This Mexican salad could easily become a favorite in my household. (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

My contribution this month is this Quinoa Spinach Salad with Feta, Pomegranate and Toasted Almonds. Quinoa, toasted almonds, baby spinach, red onion, feta cheese, and pomegranate seeds are drizzled with a dressing of red wine vinegar, olive oil, honey and Dijon mustard. If you want to wow your dinner guests, this is the salad to serve. (London, Ontario, Canada)

Vanessa of Sweet Artichoke submits this most appetizing Quinoa, Chickpea and Fennel Salad. Caramelized fennel with cider vinegar is combined with quinoa, chickpeas, chillies, freshly squeezed lemon juice, fresh coriander, fresh dill, fresh mint, olive oil and cumin. How could I resist trying this dish? (Switzerland)

Valerie of City|Life|Eats enters the fray with this most delicious Chickpea Quinoa Salad (Gluten-Free, Vegan, Nut-Free, Soy-Free). Quinoa, chickpeas, fresh lemon juice, olive oil and parsley are here presented as a complete and healthy meal. Certainly a comforting dish as winter sets in. (Washington, DC, USA)

Our final entry is from Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook. This lovely and unique Vegetarian Avgolemono Soup with Quinoa begins with vegetable broth, which is then transfered to a a mixture of eggs and lemon juice. Quinoa is then added and the soup is garnished with grated carrot and fresh dill. If you want to impress your dinner guests, this is surely an ideal choice to include on the menu. (New York, USA)

Jackie will be hosting the next edition of No Croutons Required. Check back at the beginning of the month for the theme.

Quinoa Spinach Salad with Feta, Pomegranate and Toasted Almonds

Quinoa Spinach Salad with Feta, Pomegranate and Toasted Almonds

It's no secret to my friends or to regular readers of this blog that I consider quinoa to be an absolutely essential staple grain in anyone's kitchen and diet. As simple to cook and as versatile an ingredient as ordinary white rice, quinoa's light and fluffy texture and a delicately sweet and nutty taste make it a treat on any plate even on its own. But it's an almost perfect balance of essential amino acids and proteins — rare in the plant kingdom — that make quinoa such an important food, especially for vegetarians. You just can't lose.

So it was a no-brainer for me to pick up Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming's wonderful new quinoa cookbook, Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfoodthe other day. And it was not a disappointment! Filled with beautiful colour photographs and a wide selection of easy-to-follow recipes for all sorts of dishes and occasions, this book is a perfect introduction to those who have never tried quinoa before, and will provide plenty of inspiration to those who have long enjoyed this amazing grain.

This simple but colorful and delicious salad is adapted from Quinoa 365and can serve as a side salad or as a light lunch or supper on its own. An appetizing and healthy light lunch for me today, I'm also posting this as a friendly reminder that I'm taking quinoa recipes until November 20th for this month's No Croutons Required food blogging event. Anyone with a favourite quinoa recipe is invited to submit it to me following the instructions posted here. Bon appetit!

This also goes to Jayasri who is asking for recipes featuring pomegranate seeds. Thanks to Priya for starting this event.

Quinoa Spinach Salad with Feta, Pomegranate and Toasted AlmondsQuinoa Spinach Salad with Feta, Pomegranate and Toasted Almonds
Recipe by
Adapted from Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood
Published on November 19, 2010

Simple, colorful, healthy and delicious quinoa salad tossed with spinach, almonds, Feta cheese and pomegranate seeds

Print this recipePrint this recipe

  • 1/2 cup dried quinoa
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 pound baby spinach
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 cup sheep milk Feta, crumbled
  • 1 pomegranate, seeded (1/2 to 3/4 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • Rinse and scrub the quinoa under cold running water. Place in a small saucepan, cover with 1 cup of fresh cold water, and leave to soak overnight. The following day, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and set aside to cool.

  • Preheat an oven to 350°. Slice the almonds and spread with the flesh side up over a baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 5 minutes or until the almonds are lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for a few minutes.

  • Distribute the spinach over 4 to 8 dinner plates depending on the desired serving size. Scatter the onion, Feta, almonds and pomegranate seeds over top each plate. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and drizzle over the salad servings. Serve right away.

Makes 4 lunch servings or 8 side servings
Quinoa Spinach Salad with Feta, Pomegranate and Toasted Almonds

Other quinoa salad recipes you may enjoy:
Quinoa and White Bean Salad with Wasabi and Roasted Asparagus
Roasted Beet Salad with Quinoa, Chickpeas and Miso and Tahini
Chickpea and Quinoa Salad with Lemon and Tahini

On the top of the reading stack: Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey by Najmieh Batmanglij.

Audio Accompaniment: Carbon Based Life Forms.

Brown Rice and Two-Bean Salad with Chili-Lime Dressing

Years of being a vegetarian have taught me the basic essentials of a balanced meal: in rough proportion and description of value, a serving of legumes and whole grains for proteins, minerals and essential fatty acids, and a serving of fresh vegetables for vitamins and fiber, with a few good fats from whole dairy products or olive oil thrown in.

When time is in short supply, it is always nice to be able to combine these essentials into one dish. But flavour never needs to take a back seat to nutrition, ease or convenience, and summer and autumn weather trips down the aisles of fresh local produce always provide inspiration for cool and refreshing salads that can easily be considered complete meals in themselves. This Mexican-style brown rice, chickpea and black bean salad loaded with fresh green beans, pepper and corn and spiced up with a zesty chili and lime dressing is a perfect example of taste, wholesome eating and simplicity in one balanced meal.

Adapted from Canadian Living Magazine.
Brown Rice and Two-Bean Salad with Chili-Lime Dressing


1/2 cup dried chickpeas
1/2 cup dried black beans
1/2 cup dried brown rice
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and chopped
1/2 cup fresh or defrosted corn kernels
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
2 green onions, sliced
small handful fresh coriander, chopped


1/4 cup olive oil
juice from 3 limes
rind from 1 lime
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon sea salt

Separately, rinse the chickpeas, black beans and brown rice under cold running water. Place in separate bowls and cover the chickpeas and black beans with several inches of cold water with a little yogurt whey or lemon juice added. Cover the brown rice with 2 cups of cold water. Let the chickpeas, black beans and brown rice soak overnight at room temperature.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas and black beans separately. Add each to separate small saucepans and cover with several inches of fresh cold water. Bring each to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until tender — about 30 to 45 minutes for the black beans and about 1 to 1 1/2 hours for the chickpeas. Drain and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, bring the brown rice with its soaking liquid to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and set aside to cool.

Place the cooled chickpeas, black beans and brown rice in a large mixing bowl. Add the vegetables and coriander and gently combine. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the salad. Gently toss to mix.

Serve at room temperature or cold. Serves 6 to 8.

Other salads you may enjoy:
Mexican-Style Black Bean and Millet Salad
Mexican-Style Kamut Berry, Black Bean and Roasted Corn Salad
Mexican-Style Potato Salad with Avocado and Jalapeños
Brown Rice with Lime, Cilantro and Jalapeño

On the top of the reading stack: Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood
Audio Accompaniment: Carbon Based Lifeforms

Santa Fe Scones

There are very few things that please me as much as cooking up a nice dinner for valued family members. Scones are always such a comfort food and I served up these spiced cheese biscuits with a little Mexican flair with macaroni and paneer cheese with spinach as a special treat for my Dad and his sweet girlfriend, my good friend Andrew, and of course my husband. Much more nourishing than take-out, and usually much tastier. And moving around in my kitchen helps to keep me warm in these chilly autumn days — I'm okay with that!

Read this recipe »

Spicy Chickpeas with Ground Pomegranate Seeds

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe

My regular readers will have noticed how much I enjoy cooking with chickpeas. I do believe these buttery soft beans are my favorite legume and honestly, I am rather lucky if I have enough left over after they are cooked and waiting to be included into the dish I am preparing. I just so love to nibble on these delightful garbanzos fresh out of the pot.

This is a recipe that I have adapted from a book containing a treasure trove of Indian recipes entitled 1000 Indian Recipes by Neelam Batra that I mentioned in a previous post. I could not resist the idea of ground pomegranate seeds served along with chickpeas and such a tempting array of spices. If you are looking for a layer of taste sensation in one dish, you won't want to miss this one. Ms. Batra tells us this dish (Pindi Channae - Anardana) is essentially an answer to India's version of fast food. If only we could be so lucky here in North America! Would you prefer a Big Mac or Whopper, with some greasy fries, or this aromatic healthy meal that could be served over rice or with your favorite Indian flatbread?

So much to explore, so little time. I did change the recipe somewhat to suit my preferences, but I am indebted to Ms. Batra for the inspiration. If you have the time or inspiration, I encourage you to make your own freshly ground spice powders. They will keep in a sealed jar, in your cupboard, away from bright light, for a good few months. Dried pomegranate seed powder is readily obtained at an Indian grocery store.

This is my submission to My Legume Love Affair, proudly hosted by yours truly this month. A special thanks to Susan for giving me this opportunity to display some wonderful legume recipes. The roundup will be posted at the beginning of December. Entries will be accepted until the end of November.
Spicy Chickpeas with Ground Pomegranate Seeds

1 1/4 cup of dried chickpeas, soaked in enough water overnight to cover
2 tablespoons of butter, ghee, or oil
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 - 3 fresh green chillies, seeded and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 teaspoon of chat masala
1 tablespoon of ground dried pomegranate seeds
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of mango power (amchoor powder)
1 teaspoon of garam masala
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne powder
1 tablespoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of black salt or sea salt
1 cup of water
1 teaspoon of butter, ghee or oil
3 scallions (green onions), finely chopped
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1/2 cup of fresh parsley or cilantro, finely chopped

Begin by cooking the chickpeas. Drain, transfer to a large pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, cover and simmer until they are buttery soft - roughly 1 hour. Drain and set aside.

Mash the ginger, garlic and chilies together in a mortar and pestle. Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee, butter or oil in a large pot over medium heat. When hot, add the mixture and stir and fry for 5 minutes. Add the spices and salt and stir and fry for another 2 minutes. Now add the water, along with the chickpeas and simmer for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat another teaspoon of butter, ghee, or oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the cumin seeds, stir and fry for a few minutes and then add the tomatoes, green onions, parsley and cook until the tomatoes soften up - roughly 10 minutes. Transfer to the pot with the chickpeas, simmer for another 10 minutes to blend the flavors and serve hot, over a bed of white or brown rice.

Serves 4 - 6.

Other Spicy Chickpea recipes from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen you are sure to enjoy:
Chickpea and Tomato Salad with Chat Masala
Chana Masala
Chickpeas and Paneer in a Spicy Creamy Cashew Gravy
Shredded Paneer with Tomatoes, Chilies, Mushrooms and Chickpeas

On the top of the reading stack: Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood by Patricia Green

Audio Accompaniment: CED CATHARSIS - Orange or Not

Korean Glass Noodles (Japchae)

Well, the best laid plans of mice and men. I meant to submit this noodle dish to last month's No Croutons Required, but tardy girl as I often am, missed the deadline. Jackie did a lovely job of rounding up the entries and you will find lots of delicious noodle dishes to satisfy your palate. This month, I am hosting NCR, and the theme is quinoa. Submit a soup or salad featuring this most wholesome food by the 20th of the month. I will be serving up a submission soon.

Japchae is a Korean noodle dish that can be served hot or cold. Made with cellophane noodles and typically served with finely chopped vegetables, and soya sauce, garnished with sesame seeds and chilies, this is surely a treat anytime of year.
Korean Glass Noodles (Japchae)
1/2 pound of Korean Noodles
3 teaspoons of sesame oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, scrubbed and cut into strips
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 - 3 green onions, chopped
1/2 pound of cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 ounce of dried mushrooms, soaked for 20 minutes and drained
2 fresh chilies, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 pound of spinach, washed and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of tamari
1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds

Boil the noodles for 7 minutes. Drain and toss with 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil. Chop up the noodles with a knife and set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil in a wok over medium heat. When hot, add the onion, green onions, carrots and stir and fry for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms, chillies, and cook for another few minutes. Toss in the spinach, tamari and noodles and simmer for another few minutes or until the veggies are cooked to your preference. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

On the top of the reading stack: The Best Quick Breads: 150 Recipes for Muffins, Scones, Shortcakes, Gingerbreads, Cornbreads, Coffeecakes, and Moreby Beth Hensperger

Audio Accompaniment: Apollo Atmospheres And Soundtracksby Brian Eno.

Mustard Roasted Adzuki Beans with Urad Dal

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
I am joyfully overwhelmed by one of the latest additions to my extensive cookbook collection. My dear friend Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook generously sent me a copy of 1000 Indian Recipes by Neelam Batra. I am still in the process of exploring this inspiring collection, as can be imagined, considering there are so many recipes to choose from.

Though not strictly vegetarian, the bulk of the traditional selections are more than suitable for vegetarians and also vegans. Ms. Batra, who has been cooking Indian cuisine for over 30 years, covers recipes from various regions of India, but as she notes, "Even 1000 recipes doesn't cover all the wealth I discovered in my travels and in preparing recipes in my kitchen, but you have in this book a wonderful collection of recipes that will make Indian home cooking a pleasure".

Indeed, as my cupboards are packed full of delightful spice blends and legumes that are popular in various regions and also throughout the world. I need not even go into the various cookbooks that my shelves groan over because of the weight of wealth they contain. I find it unfortunate that most of the restaurants in North America that serve Indian food are so focused on the Northern region, as much as I enjoy most of the dishes inspired from that part of the country. There is just so much to explore, so get cooking in your own kitchens and you will open up a new world of flavors and healthy meals.

I will have much more to say about this book, but I can say the cook will find recipes for spice blends, chutneys and pickles, savory snacks and starters, soups, salads, vegetables, paneer, legumes, vegetarian curries, rice, breads, desserts, beverages and for those who like Indian meat and fish dishes, you will be sure to find something to suit your preferences. The outline of kitchen basics and the glossary is most helpful, especially for those new to Indian cooking, not to mention the charming and helpful introductions to each recipe. Yet another gem that I can't praise enough.

Mustard Roasted Adzuki Beans with Urad Dal
Adapted from 1000 Indian Recipes

1 tablespoon of butter, ghee, or oil
1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
1 cup of dried adzuki beans, rinsed and soaked overnight in enough water to cover
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
2 - 4 red or green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
a generous handful of dried curry leaves, or 15 fresh curry leaves
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon of asafoetida
1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, peeled, and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
1 tablespoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of sea salt
3 - 4 cups of water
1/2 - 2/3 cup of urad dal, rinsed
1/2 cup of plain yogurt or kefir
1/2 cup of finely chopped fresh parsley

Drain the soaked adzuki beans and set aside.

In a large pot or wok, heat the oil over medium heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds, and stir and fry until they turn grey and begin to splutter and pop. Add the adzuki beans, Dijon mustard, chilies, tomato, curry leaves, asafoetida, ginger, garlic, ground coriander, cayenne, cumin and sea salt and stir and fry for 5- 10 minutes. Add the water, bring to boil, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer and cover the pan and cook for 30 minutes. Now add the urad dal and simmer for another 20 minutes. Stir occasionally and add more water as needed. Transfer to a serving dish, swirl in the yogurt or kefir and garnish with parsley.

Serves 4 - 6

Other Azuki Bean recipes from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen you will be sure to enjoy:
Mung and Azuki Beans with Fresh Peas and Spices
Spicy Azuki Bean Risotto
Hungdo Chow Ching Jiao
Adzuki Croquettes with a Spicy Sesame Sauce

On the top of the reading stack: The National Post

Audio Accompaniment: Sysyphe - Under the Wood

My Legume Love Affair

I am most flattered that Susan of The Well Season Cook has given me the opportunity to host her most popular event featuring legumes. As this is a vegetarian blog, I do ask that your bean entries do not contain meat, nor fowl, nor fish. Entries are accepted until the end of the month. Do please link back to this announcement and also to Susan's post with upcoming hosts to this healthy event. Send your entries to Recipes from non-bloggers are always welcome, and you may submit something from your archives, but do make sure you repost and update your post. Use of the logo is optional. A photo is preferred, but also optional. Eat well and be happy.

An additional bonus is that Susan will again be offering a random draw to lucky winners. Please include your location with your email. Friends and family of both Susan and I are not eligible to win.
  1. Winner chooses any cookbook or food-related book from Amazon U.S. valued at not more than 15USD for the book itself. This prize is offered by Susan at her expense and she will also absorb worldwide shipping charges. F.T.C. Notice: Susan does not receive any compensation from Amazon.
  2. Hurst Bean Box - A case of six bags of the winner's choice of Hurst Bean products, suitable for every diet, sponsored by Hurst Bean. (Due to shipping restrictions, this prize can only be awarded if the winner is a U.S. resident.) F.T.C. Notice: In May 2010, Susan, at her request, received two Hurst Bean complimentary products which are not available for purchase in her local markets. Susan does not generally accept free products from Hurst Bean nor is she financially compensated by them.
  3. Drawing Structure - If the winner is a U.S. resident, she/he will be the recipient of both Prizes 1 and 2 above. In the event that an international winner is drawn, a second drawing will be conducted from the U.S. pool of entrants to ensure that the Hurst Prize is awarded every month. In these instances, the international winner will receive the book, and the U.S. winner will receive the Hurst Prize.
Multiple recipes are permitted (although only one submission will be counted towards the random drawings), as are recipes submitted to other events. Please do ensure that legumes are the main feature of your dish. A tablespoon or so will not qualify for the roundup. Fresh or dried beans, lentils, pulses, and/or the sometimes edible pods that contain these seeds, and derivative products like tofu or besan, along with tamarind, fenugreek, carob, peanuts are all acceptable. I look forward to your submissions.