Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Sweet vs. Savory Debate

Thanks for your comments on my sweet potato and avocado salad. It seems like a lot of us like that creamy combination! But really, how could you go wrong with two super delicious foods? 

Speaking of which, I love so many different kinds of food that sometimes I find it hard to choose what to make for my meals. With the requirement that breakfast be filling (oatmeal. end of story.) and lunch be something simple + quick to pack for school (but not lacking in taste!), dinner seems to be the only time when my culinary creativity can finally be let free. My well-stocked pantry (vegan essentials and such) and currently overflowing refrigerator gives my creativity many possibilities. Sometimes, its almost too many ;). 

Okay, not really. It only makes cooking + eating all the more fun. But decision making? Now that is another story! With so many delicious ideas running through my head, it can be overwhelming to decide on just one. My solution? Narrow down your options and make both. Of course, this works especially well when their preparation is similar and easy to boot. 

Hellooooo duo of sweet + savory roasted veggies and quinoa! Chop veggies, divide and season separately, and roast while cooking quinoa on the stove top; could it really be that easy? It makes for an interesting meal with lots of flavors. Not to mention it is a time saver because it is so simple and you can do other things while the meal cooks itself. On a busy night, nothing sounds better than that. 

Sweet and Savory Roasted Vegetables (serves 1) with Fluffy Quinoa (serves 1 + leftovers):

Sweet Roasted (Root) Vegetables Ingredients: 
  • 1 carrot 
  • 1/2 large parsnip or 1 small parsnip
  • 1/2 tsp maple syrup, or to taste (see notes) 
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • water

Savory Roasted Vegetables Ingredients: 
  • 1/2 zucchini 
  • 1/2 cup green beans
  • 1/3 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 leek
  • 2 cloves garlic (or more, if you adore garlic, like me)
  • 1 tsp Braggs Liquid Aminos (or Tamari or soy sauce), + more if desired
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • water

Quinoa Ingredients: 
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed with cold water and drained
  • 3/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 400*F. 

Chop carrot and parsnip into thick chunks, about 3/4inch. Place in a small casserole dish and toss with maple syrup, cinnamon, and ground ginger. Add a bit of water to the bottom of the dish.

Chop zucchini into very thick chunks, about 1inch. Place in a casserole dish with green beans, sliced mushrooms, leek, and garlic. Toss with Braggs (tamari, soy sauce, etc.) and any additional seasonings, if you would like. Add a bit of water to the bottom of the dish.

Place both casserole dishes in the oven for about 1 hour, or until the vegetables are tender. Make sure to check them periodically to add more water if it has cooked off (see notes). 

When the vegetables are almost done, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil in a saucepan. Once it is boiling, add the quinoa. Cover and turn the heat to low. Cook for about 12 minutes. Turn the heat off and let sit for 5 minutes. DO NOT remove the lid (see notes).

Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven. Place the quinoa in the middle of a plate, putting the sweet vegetables on one side and the savory on the other. Dig in! 

  • Please adjust the maple syrup to your taste. I generally do not like sweetened things so obviously 1/2 tsp is enough. However, for normal tastes, I would probably recommend about 1/2 TBS-1TBS or so. 
  • As with my slow-roasted kabocha squash, I use water in the roasting process. I use it mostly because I like the sweet flavor that roasting imparts to food, but I also enjoy a moister vegetable. By using water, I am able to get the best of steaming and roasting in one. You may also omit the water completely and instead use more oil (I did not list oil because it is really dependent on your preferences, but I use a little, too), taking care that your vegetables do not burn. Using coconut milk for the sweet vegetables and vegetable broth for the savory vegetables would add extra flavor to the "steam-roasting" method. It is really up to you! 
  • I will admit that I have had very bad quinoa experiences in the past. While I love the power-packed grain, cooking it can be difficult. To achieve a fluffy quinoa, make sure to add enough water, but not too much. I would tell you exactly how much that is, but unfortunately, it depends upon the amount you are making, the pan and burner you are using, etc. However, I can give you this one tip that has really helped me: keep the lid on! Quinoa cooks mostly with steam, so keeping it in produces a much fluffier texture (as opposed to crunchy and dry or mushy). Also, take care to fluff with a fork instead of a damaging spoon or spatula. The more you experiment, the easier it will get. :)
  • Since the veggies serve one and the quinoa makes leftovers, it is a great meal that can be used the next day in a completely different way. I chose to make a delicious salad using 1/2 cup leftover quinoa, kabocha squash I roasted while doing my veggies for dinner (using my slow-roasting method), and a few steamed and a few roasted brussels sprouts over a bed of spinach. I also topped it with a little bit of creamy zucchini dressing that I made earlier in the week. It definitely made my day. 

As for dinner, well, I especially loved having savory on one side, 

and sweet on the other. Dilemma solved! 

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with ideas when making a meal? What is your solution? 

Have a lovely day! 


1 comment:

  1. Ooh sweet potato + avocado sounds deelish! And of course I always love roasted veg too. Whenever I get overwhelmed I make a LIST!