Tag Archives: quinoa

Making sprouts, if not friends

It is difficult to make new friends in your 30s. I know that to those of you in and past this phase of life have probably already figured this out, but bear with me a moment while I catch up. I’m just not as social as I used to be. In fact I find that I’ve developed a social awkwardness that I don’t remember having in my 20s. Maybe it’s because most of my social interactions then were at a bar, drink in hand?

In any case, I find I still have the human need for friends, but am less adept at interacting with strangers than I once was. So, one solution to this has been to seek out structured activities where I am thrust into the presence of other people, but do not have to make a lot of conversation with them right off the bat. Knitting class, writing workshop, author readings, gardening class, and one class about sprouting. Yes, a class about DIY sprouting given at the local co-op. How’s that for being a crunchy Oregon hippie?!


I didn’t make any friends at the class, but I did learn a lot of fascinating things about sprouting and I have been hooked on it ever since. It turns out there is a lot more to sprouts than the alfalfa variety that I remember from my youth, and that I hated. You can sprout nuts, beans, lentils, seeds, grains, the possibilities are endless! Or nearly so.

And there are some convincing health benefits, at least I find them convincing, that have to do with all the nutrients locked up in the seed of a plant (which is, of course, what all the aforementioned things are). When you sprout a bean or a nut, you release all the protein and vitamins that it was storing to help it grow into a strong, healthy plant. Sprouts are also delicious, and have very different flavors depending on what you are sprouting – something that surprised me because my sprout experience had been limited to the alfalfa variety.


My favorite sprouts so far, and the ones that have been the most consistently successful, are lentil sprouts. So, they are the sprouts featured in today’s recipe. I have also had a few challenges, though, and one sprouting disaster – lest you think my sprouting glasses are a little too rose-colored. The disaster was self-inflicted, really, and involved an attempt to sprout garbanzo beans that I knew were way too old to do anything with other than use as pie weights. Pro tip: if beans are too old to cook, they are too old to sprout.


For the most part though, sprouting has been smooth-sailing, delicious, and nutritious. This recipe is by far my favorite that has incorporated lentil sprouts, but they are supremely versatile. They add a wonderful texture and flavor to salads, sandwiches, or as a topping for just about any quinoa or other grain salad.

finished salad

Carrot, Avocado, Sprout Salad over Quinoa

Barely adapted from DailyCandy (RIP)
Makes four good-sized portions, good for lunch or dinner

Directions for lentil sprouts are below this recipe, but heads up: it takes about 3 1/2 to 4 days to sprout lentils. So, if you want to make this recipe, you best get sprouting!

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch chunks
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 tangerines (I used Cuties), halved
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced
  • 4 cups lentil sprouts (directions below)
  • a couple dollops of sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons mixed seeds (I used pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame, but you could use any seeds you want), toasted

Combine quinoa, 2 cups water, and a pinch of salt in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Turn heat down to just what is needed to maintain the simmer and cook until all water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy, 15-20 minutes.

While quinoa is cooking, turn the oven on to 350° and put a large pot of water on to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the carrots and cook until a knife pierces them easily, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the garlic, cumin, thyme, chili, 1½ teaspoons salt, and ¾ teaspoon pepper in a food processor and pulse until pasty. With the food processor running, add the vinegar and ¼ cup of the olive oil and run until well-mixed. Set aside.

When the quinoa is done, set it aside. When the carrots are done, drain and then arrange them in a single layer on a sheet pan. Spoon the cumin/olive oil mixture over the carrots.

Cut 3 of the tangerines and 1 lemon in half and place them on top of the carrots, cut-side down. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes or until carrots are golden brown.

When cool enough to handle, squeeze the juice from the roasted tangerine and lemon halves into a small bowl. Squeeze in the juice each from the remaining uncooked tangerine and lemon. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and drizzle about half over the roasted carrots, reserving the rest.

To assemble the dish, start with a scoop of the quinoa and top with saucy carrots, then avocado, then sprouts. Drizzle with reserved sauce, add a dollop of sour cream to the top, and then sprinkle with toasted seeds. Serve immediately.

Lentil Sprouts

Directions from Susan Hyne, who taught the sprouting class
Makes ~4 cups

  • 1/4 cup lentils (I used Puy lentils, but you could use Beluga, brown, red, yellow, etc.)
  • 1 quart glass jar with a screw top lid
  • cheesecloth

Rinse lentils in a sieve and then dump into the glass jar.

Fill the jar with water. Cover the opening of the jar with a 2-ply piece of cheesecloth and then screw lid on to hold cheesecloth in place.

lentils in jar

Cover the jar with a kitchen towel to keep out light and soak lentils for 12 hours.

After the lentils have soaked, drain the water and rest jar in a small bowl so that it’s tilted and any remaining water can drain out. Re-cover with the kitchen towel.

draining lentils

Rinse the lentils and the bowl well 2-3 times per day for 3-4 days, each time returning the jar to the bowl so that the lentils can drain and covering with the towel.

day one


day two

day three

The sprouts are ready when they are about 1-inch long.

finished sprouts

Eat right away or store in the fridge. If you are storing in the fridge, do not rinse right before putting them in the fridge (i.e. you want them to go into the fridge as dry as possible to keep them from getting slimy). If you put them in the fridge dry, they will keep for up to 4 days.



Filed under Food, Lunch, Main Course, Odds & Ends

A veggie chili to warm you up

My oh my, it has been getting cold here in the Pacific Northwest! And it is a wet cold – the kind that blows through your clothes and goes straight to the bone. Yes, I know, I’m from Alaska…ok, ok, it hasn’t been THAT cold. It is certainly fall though, and rounding the corner into winter.

autumn tree

I actually love this time of year weather-wise: when it’s cold enough for jackets and gloves and red noses, but it’s not winter quite yet. Crisp, I think it’s called. Ok, so it has been crisp here.

I’m glad we settled that. Because the chilly weather has really put me in the mood for some hearty chili! (I’m so very sorry…but I’m not erasing it) And that is what I have for you today: a filling, homey, good-for-the-soul meal of vegetarian chili and sweet potato biscuits.

bubbling chili

I know there are people out there (you know who you are) who will cross their arms and say that anything that claims to be chili and doesn’t have meat in it just isn’t chili. Well. To those people I firmly stick out my tongue and say, “more for me!” because this chili is delicious.

I listed the sweet potato biscuits in my fall to-do list post a couple of weeks ago, and in so doing created a biscuit-shaped hole in my belly that needed to be filled – and quick. The recipe that inspired the chili has also been on my to-make list for quite a while. During a time in my life when I feel I am able to get very little accomplished that doesn’t have to do with grad school, crossing these two recipes off that list made me very proud indeed!

biscuit cutting

This is also the type of meal that is sure to create leftovers and was perfect for me to take to school for lunch, an attribute I am always on the lookout for these days. The biscuits, orange as they are, are also quite seasonal. Comfort food Halloween dinner anyone?

chili and biscuits

Quinoa Vegetarian Chili

Adapted from Savoring the Thyme
Makes a big ol’ pot of chili

Most of my adaptations to the original chili recipe were to substitute fresh ingredients in for the canned or frozen ones called for. I figured that I should use them while I could! And in fact, this was the last recipe I made with fresh corn before it disappeared from the farmers market. So, if you can use fresh please do, but if you can’t that’s ok – it will still be yummy.

  • 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups fresh shelled beans (I used cranberry beans)
  • 2 cups veggie stock
  • 1 can organic black beans, undrained
  • fresh corn kernels from 3 ears of corn (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa

Heat oil in large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and peppers and cook for 5 minutes.

Turn heat down to medium, add garlic, cumin, coriander, oregano and chili powder and cook for another couple of minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients except the quinoa, and turn the heat to high. Allow to come to a boil, stirring frequently.

Then, lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, continuing to stir and taste to adjust seasoning periodically.

Once it’s to your liking, stir in  the cooked quinoa and serve with biscuits (below).


Sweet Potato Biscuits

Barely adapted from Orangette
Makes 8-10 biscuits (depending on what you consider a biscuit cutter)

Making these two recipes together requires you to get your timing right. I made my sweet potato puree before I started working on the chili and put it in the fridge to cool. Once I had the chili on the stove and simmering, I set to work on making the biscuits. The timing worked out perfectly for me, but if you have trouble just remember to err on the side of finishing the chili before the biscuits. The chili can stay warm on the stove top and will get even better with time, but there is no replacement for warm, fresh-from-the-oven biscuits!

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp light-brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 6 tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup chilled sweet potato puree (read: approx. 2 medium peeled, boiled, and puréed sweet potatoes)
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425°, with rack on lower shelf.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.

With a pastry blender (or however you like to do it), cut in the cold butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with some pea-size lumps of butter remaining.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sweet potato purée and buttermilk; stir quickly into flour mixture until combined (do not over mix – it will still be slightly crumbly).

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead very gently until dough comes together but is still slightly lumpy, five or six times. (If dough is too sticky, work in up to 1/4 cup additional flour.)

Shape into a disk, and pat to an even 1-inch thickness.

With a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter (or whatever circular implement you have on hand), cut out biscuits as close together as possible.

Gather together scraps, and repeat to cut out more biscuits.

Butter or spray an 8-inch cake pan. Arrange biscuits snugly in pan.

Brush with melted butter. Bake until golden, 20 to 24 minutes, rotating once in the middle. Serve immediately!

happy halloween!


Filed under Food, Main Course