Tag Archives: Quinoa

Quinoa for the Toner

Happy Father’s Day to this guy!

That (as you may have guessed) is my dad, Tom, more commonly known to those in the immediate family as “the Toner.”  Why?  Well, many years ago his nickname was “Tommy Tutone,” (80s musical artist that brought us that “867-5309” song), which then evolved to “Two-toner,” which then became “Toner,” often preceded by “the” to account for the fact that he’s Kind Of A Big Deal.

Besides reading She Sings at the Table in his spare time, Dad is also a school-administration superstar and a culinary force to be reckoned with.  He taught me all about the infield fly rule, attended more piano recitals than any person should ever have to, and bought me my food processor.  So….thanks, padre!

Although he often shies away from my hippie food and gravitates toward dishes that involve more bacon, the Toner is a big fan of my Honey-Balsamic Quinoa Salad.  I made him a batch today, in between bouts of bar exam study, and now I will of course share the recipe with you folks.

Honey-Balsamic Quinoa Salad (serves one dad for lunch for one work-week)

  • 1 1/2 c. quinoa, cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 c. quartered cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 4-5 sliced scallions
  • 1 c. sugar snap peas, chopped
  • one cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • about 1/3 c. sunflower seeds
Dressing (this will make a little extra–delish on a salad the next day):
  • 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste (don’t be too stingy–remember this has to season the whole salad)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp honey
Cook the quinoa according to the package instructions.  Meanwhile, make the dressing, by combining ingredients in a blender or mincing the garlic and whisking the ingredients if you’d prefer.  When the quinoa is done, and still warm, put it in a large bowl and pour over most of the dressing.  Chop the vegetables while the quinoa cools.  Add the vegetables and sunflower seeds to the quinoa, stir, and add more dressing as desired.
Have a good week, friends!  I will be making flashcards and weeping.  (I’m just kidding.  Sort of.)

Success! Seared tuna! Sweet potatoes!

I’m sorry, I sometimes use too many exclamation points.  It’s probably some lingering endorphins from FINISHING THE HALF MARATHON WOOOO!

I honestly enjoyed the race a lot!  It went by much faster than I thought it would, I never passed out or tripped over my own feet or threw up or anything–so I consider it a first-timer success for sure.  Also–hearty congratulations to my magnificent mom who breezed right through all 13.1.  She’s the best!  I thought the race was very well-organized and really appreciated all the people who volunteered along the course.  I would definitely do another one someday…so I’ll have to start looking around at what races are out there.

After finishing the race I baked some cookies for an upcoming meeting of hungry future lawyers and spent a lot of time being lazy on the couch.  It was glorious.  Then, my dad made a bunch of delicious food….including….

I don’t eat fish/seafood in general very often, but I looooove almost-raw tuna.  To make these drool-worthy little appetizers pictured above, cut a few tortillas into wedges and fry them until crispy in a shallow layer of peanut oil.  Remove them from the oil and put them on some paper towels to drain.  Brush the tuna with sesame oil, press it into sesame seeds, and sear it in a very hot pan.  Not for too long, please!  Overcooked tuna just bums me out no end.  Then stir a small amount of wasabi powder into some mayo (add it in gradually until you get the taste you want), cut up a few scallions so it looks snazzy, and assemble as shown above.

*Hey Dad, feel free to clarify/add to those instructions in the comment section.  Thank you for your continued readership 🙂

The morning after racing and eating tuna, I was sore.  So. Very. Sore.  I may have made an executive decision to skip class that morning and stay in Des Moines and go for a very slow walk at one of my favorite fall-stroll locations.

That’s the Woodland Cemetery–not creepy and/or morbid, as you might think…just peaceful and full of big, beautiful trees with turning leaves.  I love wandering around in there and looking at the names on the tombstones.  It was good to stretch the legs and get some fresh air before heading back to Iowa City.

Nothing too exciting happened in the apartment kitchen this week, but I did come home from class starving one day and decide to conjure something up using these random ingredients I had in my fridge:

We have here a bunch of kale, an acorn squash, a pear, a parsnip, and a sweet potato.  I really need to learn to grocery shop with more purpose.  Sometimes I’m in the produce aisle and things just speak to me and I end up with weird collections like this.  But I was determined to make a dish!  A blog-worthy dish!  So I put on my apron (my serious-cooking apron, not my hostess apron, mind you) and got down to business.

First, I sawed the acorn squash in half, scooped out the seeds, and put both halves flesh-side-up in a baking dish with a bit of water in the bottom.  I poured on a bit of olive oil, hit it with some salt and pepper, covered with foil, and put it in a 350 degree oven until fork-tender.  (Mine took about 30 minutes, but as I’ve said before my oven is a little nuts.)  Then I peeled and sliced the sweet potato and parsnip onto a baking sheet, gave them the olive-oil-salt-pepper treatment as well, and put them in to roast along with the squash.

Those took about 20 minutes.  Once I had the oven situation under control, I started 1/2 c. of quinoa boiling in 1 c. of water and chopped and sauteed the kale in some olive oil with 2 cloves of minced garlic.  This was my first time using kale and I don’t think I cooked it long enough.  But I liked it in the finished dish and I think I could get into using it with a little more practice.  Kale tips are welcome, if any of you readers happen to be experts.

And thus the stage was set for layering all these healthy, harvest-y ingredients in my prettiest pie pan.

I buttered the pie pan (no use having things stick, now is there?) and started with a layer of all the roasted acorn squash.  Then I layered on half of the quinoa.  At the last minute I decided to stir one beaten egg into the quinoa to make this more of a mushy, casserole-type situation.  I don’t know if it made much difference, but if you happen to try something like this and want to add the egg just remember to let the quinoa cool off before you go stirring it in, or you’ll scramble it.

Next, the sauteed kale and the rest of the quinoa.

Then, the roasted sweet potato and parsnip, mixed with the diced pear, and topped with a dusting of cinnamon and a handful of pumpkin seeds (which I have FINALLY used up, so I promise to stop putting them in everything I post on here.)

Finally, I poured a few tablespoons of homemade vinaigrette (recipe in this post) over the whole thing and baked it at 350 for about 20 minutes.  Definitely Thanksgiving material!  Here’s the recap of everything I used:

  • 1 acorn squash, roasted and scooped out of the skin
  • 1/2 c. quinoa, boiled in 1 c. water until the water is all absorbed
  • 1 small bunch of kale, sauteed with 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 sweet potato and 1 parsnip, both peeled, diced, and roasted
  • 1 diced pear
  • a few tablespoons of honey-balsamic vinaigrette
  • optional toppings: cinnamon and pumpkin seeds

That’s all for now, folks.  Happy Halloween!


Yesterday I felt the need for a little roadtrip, so I threw my laundry in my car and headed west for a little time at my vacation home (aka my parents’ house).  This morning, then, presented a golden opportunity for a run at my favorite Des Moines park.  Six miles, a lake, trees, and cool temps made for one fantastic start to the day.

I love Gray’s Lake because 1) it’s a well-defined 2-mile loop, which is good when you were born without a sense of direction like me, 2) for part of the loop you run along the river, and 3) the people-watching is usually pretty great.

I am now officially registered for the Des Moines half-marathon in mid-October…which is sort of terrifying.  Can I get myself in good enough shape to put in a respectable performance in just over a month?  Well, I’ll try, but it’s somewhat doubtful.  However, I like to think that what I lack in endurance, speed, and general athleticism I make up for in stubborness.  I’ll just crawl the last few miles if I have to, so there!

Moving on to food, let’s talk about my love for quinoa and a nifty new recipe.  Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is wonderful grain-like stuff that I’ve been using in salads like it’s going out of style.  It’s ancient, it’s South American, and it’s freakishly nutritious.  It’s a great protein source for veggie-eaters like myself, because it’s very balanced in terms of amino acids.  A couple of weeks ago I found myself in possession of some top-notch IA sweetcorn and made up this salad.  It’s quickly going out of season, so try it ASAP or file it away for next year because it was pretty delish!

(Yes, I took that picture in the grass outside my apartment because my kitchen lighting is bad.  I never claimed to be normal.)

Sweetcorn Quinoa Salad

  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 3/4 c. quinoa
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. agave nectar (or you could use honey)
  • cayenne pepper to taste (I used about 1/8 tsp.)
  • 1 c. cooked corn kernels
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 3-4 thinly sliced scallions
  • half of a 14.5 oz. can of black beans
  • chopped cilantro, to taste

Bring the water to a boil.  Add the quinoa and cook according to the package directions, or until the water is absorbed.  Put the lime juice, oil, agave nectar, and cayenne in a small bowl and whisk to combine (I actually used a blender for this).  When the quinoa is finished, add the veggies, beans, cilantro, and dressing and stir to combine.  A scoop of this stuff on top of some greens = lunch of champions.

Happy weekend, friends!