Tuesday, August 21, 2018


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This is the time of year when we often on tasty full-meal vegan salads for lunch or dinner.  Since we live on an island and can't run to a supermarket or natural food store for everything that might be called for in a recipe, I often just have a look in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry to see what I have around that might make a nutritious, delicious and satisfying salad meal all by itself.  

Yesterday, I made this salad for lunch (and there's some leftover for tomorrow!), with some cooked quinoa and bulgur and cremini mushrooms that I had in the refrigerator, plus some gorgeous fresh-picked green beans from our neighbor's garden, a cup of cooked chickpeas from my stash in the freezer, and one lone orange that was left from the last shopping.  Mixed with a piquant, slightly Asian-style dressing, it all became a very tasty and filling low-fat, high-fiber meal, AND one that is low-glycemic, which is what I need to be concerned about because of a pre-diabetes diagnosis. (The diet is working-- my blood sugar levels have improved and I've lost 13 lbs.)  

Cooked Quinoa
Medium (#2) Bulgur Wheat

Both quinoa (which is actually a seed, not a grain, but we use it like a grain) and bulgur wheat are low on the glycemic index.  (Bulgur (the grain used for making tabouleh), because of the ancient way in which it is processed, contains "resistant starch", which is a good thing!  You can read all about it here.) I usually mix quinoa with bulgur because my husband is not fond of quinoa on its own, and bulgur is very inexpensive, so this cuts the cost a bit.  Fortunately, they cook in about the same amount of time, with the same amount of liquid.  I often cook a large-ish pot of them together and freeze portions for future use.

Servings: 4

A citrus-y dressing, orange zest and little chunks of fresh orange make this full-meal salad refreshing as well as satisfying. NOTE: Both quinoa and bulgur wheat are low-glycemic, so this is a great salad for anyone is on a Low-GI diet.

You might be interested in my article, “Are Vegans Really Hurting South American Farmers by Eating Quinoa?”, at  https://bit.ly/2BACGoE

1/2 cup white or red quinoa (pre-washed, such as the Kirkland organic white quinoa from Costco)
1/2 cup medium (#2) bulgur wheat
(For a gluten-free version you can use 1 cup white or red quinoa or a mixture of both, and eliminate the bulgur.)
2 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt
NOTE: You could use 3 cups of pre-cooked quinoa/bulgur mixture, or just quinoa (of any color) if you have some on hand in your refrigerator.
12 oz. fresh green beans, stemmed and cut into 1 to 2" pieces
1 Tbs. dark sesame oil
8 oz. fresh cremini mushrooms (remove any tough stems), sliced about 1/4" thick
1  cup cooked or canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 medium orange, peeled after zesting, and sliced into small chunks
zest from 1 medium orange
Citrus Dressing:
1 1/2 Tbs. plain rice vinegar (not salted)
1 1/2 Tbs. soy sauce or tamari 
NOTE: I urge you NOT to use Bragg's Liquid Aminos, which actually contains more sodium than soy sauce and is unfermented, so lacking umami flavor compounds. See this article: https://bit.ly/2N4LaFD
1  Tbs. dry to medium sherry
1 Tbs. orange juice
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs. olive oil

Mix the quinoa and bulgur (or 1 cup quinoa for gluten-free) in a medium saucepan with a tight lid.  Bring to a boil, stir and turn the heat down to Low.  Cook, covered, for 12-15 minutes.  Remove the cover and fluff the grains with a fork.  Scoop into your serving bowl and set aside.

While the quinoa/bulgur mixture is cooking, you can cook your green beans in another pot, just barely covering the beans with water. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for about 5 minutes, or until tender but firm-- not mushy.  Drain immediately in a colander and run cold water over them to cool them down.  Leave in the colander to drain while you finish the recipe.

Heat the sesame oil in a medium-large skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms, sprinkle with a bit of salt, and sauté until they are cooked to your liking but still keep their shape.  You can add a bit of water from a kitchen squirt bottle every now and then as you sauté to keep the mushrooms moving well and prevent sticking-- but don't overdo the water! When they are cooked, scrape them into the bowl with the quinoa/bulgur mixture.

Now, add the drained green beans to the hot skillet over high heat and keep the beans moving until most of them are slightly seared. Immediately add them to the bowl with the grains and mushrooms.

Add the drained chickpeas and the orange chunks and zest to the bowl.

In a small bowl or pitcher, whisk together all of the Dressing ingredients, then add the dressing to the bowl of salad ingredients and mix gently with a large spoon.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per ¼ recipe serving): 333 calories, 82 calories from fat, 9.5g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 482mg sodium, 907.5mg potassium, 55.4g carbohydrates, 11.7g fiber, 7.8g sugar, 12.2g protein, 10.2 points.