Beans and grains for spring and summer menus


There has been a lot of chilly wet weather lately –I found myself cooking minestrone soup with beans and pasta the other day.  Today I decided to make Vegetarian Molasses Baked Beans in the slow cooker–it’s cooking as I write.  Baked beans can be served hot or cold as a main or side dish.  For Meatless Monday,  I’ll serve the beans with a spinach salad or hot greens, and perhaps some toast–I might also make some brown rice.

Another food that I’ve talked about in other posts is quinoa–it’s great in raw or grilled vegetable salads.  I’ve run out of quinoa so won’t be cooking with it next week, but I just want to mention again that it’s a great, satisfying food–high in protein, fibre, and minerals.  It’s also a gluten-free grain (technically not a grain, but it’s grain-like)–important for those who have a gluten sensitivity or allergy.  Quinoa recipes can be made using brown rice— brown rice and quinoa are interchangeable in many dishes.  Canadian Living Magazine offers a few quinoa recipes, such as:

Black and White Bean and Quinoa Salad,

Gluten-free Quinoa and Lentil Salad with Creamy Tahini Dressing, and

Grilled Vegetable Quinoa Salad–featuring quinoa, grilled vegetables and feta cheese.

Kasha Veggie Burgers for Meatless Monday

This week for Meatless Monday I’ll be making veggie burgers with Kasha (toasted buckwheat groats) as the key ingredient.  This grain is part of East European cuisines and has a distinct flavour.  I’ll be following a recipe called “Cajun Veggie Burgers” that comes with a demonstration video.  A unique feature of this burger recipe is that it provides instructions for  baking as well as frying the burgers.

For Inspiration

Changing eating patterns, even for one day takes effort.  If you are looking for inspiration, check out the Video of Dr. Rajendra Pachauri,  Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), uploaded onto YouTube. In this video, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri,  also Director General of the Energy and Resources Institute of India,talks about the impact of eating less meat.

Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chairman IPCC

Quinoa Burgers and Pad Thai for Meatless Monday

My weekend vegetarian cooking will incorporate red quinoa, a South American grain, and a vegetarian version of one of my favourite Thai dishes, Pad Thai.

I will make Quinoa burgers or patties  for lunch.  Vegetable patties have not been my forte, but  I expect that if I make them more often, my skill will increase.  My theory is that whatever the recipe says, the cook has to make last minute decisions about whether there is enough moisture, or enough of the binding ingredient, such as bread crumbs or flour.

Vegetarian burgers are good heated up, but also go nicely in a cold packed lunch, with a bun, lettuce, and other trimmings.

The Red Quinoa Patties recipe I’ll be trying is published by the Quinoa Corporation in its Inca Red Pamphlet, available online at:  Cooking quinoa is very much like cooking rice—rinse thoroughly, and use 2 cups of water for each cup of dry grain.  The recipe calls for three cups of cooked quinoa–one cup of the dry grain yields this amount.

Quinoa Facts

It’s pronounced “Keen-wa” not “Kin-oh-ah” as I used to say it.

Not widely used in North America, quinoa was a staple of the Incas.  It has more protein than other grains and is high in vitamins E and B; and minerals, such as calcium, iron, and phosphorous.

I have found quinoa in bulk food and natural food stores.

Vegetarian Pad Thai for Dinner

According to Wikipedia, Pad Thai is one of Thailand’s national dishes.  It’s traditionally made with rice noodles, egg, fish sauce, tamarind, red chillies, and other ingredients, such as bean sprouts, shrimp, chicken, or tofu.  Garnishes typically include peanuts, lime, and coriander.  The recipe I will be using can be done with eggs, or soft tofu as a substitute, bean sprouts, and Baby Bok Choy.  It calls for tamarind paste, which is perfect if you can find it–look in the international section of a grocery store or at an East Indian/Asian store.  I’m going to try to make do without tamarind by adding a bit of lemon and a touch of brown sugar instead. The recipe can be found at