Rainy Day Sunday

It is cold again…and rainy :( .   Thursday was in the mid 60′s here in Chicago and I ran outside in a tank top! What the what!  Friday hit the 50′s too but I saw snow in the forecast for this week.  I knew it was too good to last.
This weekend my best friend Rachel was in town from Atlanta.  Mom, don’t be too jealous!  We have been friends since 2nd grade and growing up Rachel was always like part of the family.  I always said that my mom liked Rachel more than she liked me.  Anytime my mom and I got in a fight she would say ‘Rachel would never say something like that to me’ (well yeah, I would hope not!).  Long story short, she is basically like my sister and we go way back.  I tried to find a picture of us in matching flowered bike shorts we used to own but I couldn’t find it, so this one will have to do:
Nice white jeans Andrew!  Not that I have much room to talk.
It has been fun having Rachel here for the weekend.  We went out Friday and Saturday night and I actually have a bit of a headache right now :( .  Yesterday we did some shopping downtown.  I bought some shorts that I plan on wearing for the half marathon!  Yes, outfit comes before training…priorities.
We did a lot of eating out this weekend, but I did make some quinoa on Friday and the recipe is definitely worth sharing.  I have been meaning to try quinoa for awhile but just kept forgetting to buy it at the grocery.
Sometimes I kind of mindlessly shop at the grocery store and end up with the same old things that I always buy.
This quinoa came from the bulk bins at Bloomingfoods and was really cheap.  Quinoa is a super food of sorts because it is a grain (technically it is a seed but is thought of as a grain) but is a source of complete protein and is also gluten free (many grains are not gluten free).  It is high in fiber and iron and is really really versatile.  All that being said, I don’t know why I haven’t tried it until now!
When you use quinoa, make sure to thoroughly rinse the quinoa before cooking as it has a gritty outer layer when you buy it.  You can cook it in a few different ways.  The first is similar to how you would cook rice, with 1 part quinoa, 2 parts water, cooking until liquid is absorbed.  You could swap out the water with chicken or vegetable broth and that would add some flavor.  I used a method where you boil the quinoa in equal parts of grain to water for about 10 minutes.  Then you drain the water and put quinoa back in the strainer (that you used to rinse originally) and steam over about an inch of water for 10 minutes (in the picture there isn’t a lid but you would cover it while steaming).  Supposedly this way is supposed to make the quinoa taste fluffier and better.  I have only tried this way so I don’t know if it is worth the extra effort or not.  Do you guys know?
After cooking, I decided to very loosely base my recipe on this one from Epicurious.
Black bean, tomato and feta quinoa bowl.  Makes 4 servings
1 cup quinoa
1 can refried black beans
1 can of diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup cilantro
4 stalks (?) green onion
Juice of 1/2 of a lemon + the zest
1 t olive oil
1/4 t sugar
1/3 cup feta
While the quinoa is cooking, combine the can of refried black beans with a can of diced tomatoes.  You could use fresh tomatoes, I bet that would actually be better but I used canned since tomatoes are so expensive right now and I can’t justify them.  Soon enough they will be back!
Add in green onion and cilantro.  I used a ton of cilantro.  Feel free to use however much you would like or skip it altogether.  I wouldn’t recommend skipping it because the cilantro adds so much flavor, although I know it is one of those things where people either love it or cannot stand it–kind of like beets!
Make the dressing by mixing the lemon juice and zest, as well as the oil, sugar and a tiny pinch of both salt and pepper.
Once the quinoa is cooked, let it cool and add it to the beans and tomato mixture and mix together.  Add feta and dressing and serve!  This was really really good.  All the flavors and textures really just come together and create a killer dish. Who says a great dish has to be complicated?  You could serve this one as a side dish, but I used as the main meal with a small salad.   The original Epicurious recipe calls for regular black beans (not refried) and they might make the dish a little prettier.  I actually just used the refried beans because it is what I had in the cupboard and I really liked them in this but if you would prefer regular I think they would work well too.  The possibilities are endless.   Expect to see a lot of quinoa recipes coming your way in the near future!

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