I am in the middle of revolutionizing by adding quinoa (KIN-wa) as a major staple or base, in addition to rice, pasta and some bread. Knowing this, my friend Rami Bardeesy recently suggested a meal to me that exemplifies my life philosophy #3 – AND not or – to combine the best of both words, while being very healthy. It was pasta with tomato sauce, veggies and quinoa. That was the quick and easy to make meal, but I didn’t call it that in the post title because it’s the substitution of the meat I normally would have with this dish that is key.
Pasta with meat in tomato sauce is something I eat often, and I am sure others do as well. I shuffle up the pasta shapes, meat types and variation of tomato pasta sauces to keep things interesting. It is an important source of protein for me because this is how I get my meat most often at home, though meat isn’t my only source of protein, of course.
Quinoa is loaded with protein, more so than the meat I have with my pasta and tomato sauce. It also is high in iron and lacks the bad stuff in the meat that could range from trans-fat to whatever else isn’t good that went into the feed to grow the animal producing meat I’d have bought. Quinoa is a somewhat like ground meat in texture so it works well as a substitute, and it is relatively tasteless so it doesn’t affect the dish much. I don’t find I taste the meat a lot in the tomato sauce so the quinoa is pretty much the perfect substitute, as far as I am concerned. Here, then is the recipe.
Pasta with Quinoa in Tomato Sauce
- Pick your pasta type and amount
(two fistfuls of pasta pieces works for me)
- 1/4 pound of quinoa
- Twice the volume of water to quinoa for cooking quinoa
- 4-5 white mushrooms
- 5 tubes or so of green onions at 2″ each
(or substitute real onions)
- Some salad greens or just baby spinach
- Some tomato sauce
(any flavour you like rather than just the plain one)
- Grated cheese optional
- Basil spice
I’m a bit of an “ish” cooker, meaning I don’t measure things too exactly unless it really helps. For example, the 2:1 water to quinoa for cooking the quinoa in my rice cooker/steamer. If you have one of these things, you can have your quinoa ready long before you get the rest of the dish done. If not, start by cooking the quinoa and have it ready or nearly ready before starting the rest because the rest is very quick.
Then boil the water for your pasta and get your pasta sauce in another pot over gentle heat.
Then dice up mushrooms and green onions. If you feel like doing the same to your field greens, you can do that, too.
If your pasta sauce gets done first, just leave it there. You want to drain the pasta and get it on the plate (for string pasta) or bowl (for piece pasta) first.
Sprinkle your quinoa over top of the pasta, though you can add this at the very end if you like or want to minimize your waiting time in making this dish.
Now add the pasta sauce and, on top of that, add your mushrooms, green onions, grated cheese and basil evenly.
Mix well and voilà!
With this recipe and considering I eat about a half a kilo of meat a week, a little over 1 pound, I could easily go vegetarian at home. I won’t quite do that because I do like some meat, but I can tell you I will be at least halving my meat in take at home from now on.
Thanks to my friend Rami for the suggestion!