Saturday, September 14, 2013

Weekend Cooking: Variations of a Theme

Last week I posted about my first attempt at preparing Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad.  I wasn't sure how my "meat and potatoes" crowd would react but they seemed to enjoy it, and I absolutely LOVED it.  In fact, I liked it so much, that I have considered adapting it to a variety of different tastes.

While shopping at Trader Joe's this week, I discovered Harvest Grains, an assortment of Israeli-style couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and red quinoa.  The color combination is festive, and the nutritional content seemed decent:  2 grams of fiber; 6 grams of protein; 2 grams of sugar; 1 gram of fat.  I bought a bag and decided to use these grains as a part of the adaptation of last week's salad.  I prepared the blend according to the package directions, using chicken broth rather than water.  Quick and Easy.

I decided to improvise, however, and made a one-dish meal rather than a side salad.  To the grain mixture, I not only added the cherry tomatoes and cucumber, but I also added 1 cup diced boiled chicken breast and about 1/2 cup of feta cheese.

The dressing consisted of 1/4 cup olive oil and 1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Greek seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon Penzey's Shallot salt.  A sprinkle of finely chopped mint added a splash of fresh flavor.  And I must say, it was rather tasty!

This successful experiment has led me to think that there may be a variety of other one-dish meals that can be prepared from this one basic recipe:  perhaps shrimp with a bay seasoning dressing, or  shredded pork tenderloin, asiago cheese, with a Mexican dressing using lime juice, cumin and coriander.

This is the perfect dish to serve one night as a light dinner, and then eat the leftovers for lunch throughout the week.  I would be happy to have this as a staple on my menu repertoire.  If you can imagine another flavorful combination, I would love to hear it.


  1. We don't have Trader Joe's here (not complaining, I LOVE Wegmans) but I like to stop in when I visit my daughter in NYC. Harvest Grains is now on my list. Penzey's is a fairly recent discovery for me, too. Can't wait to try your one-dish meal!

  2. I feed a meat and potatoes crowd too but they are always willing to experiment.

  3. Looks yummy! How about black beans, corn, salsa, and a little cheese?

    Joy's Book Blog

  4. I used this mix all the time. Love it. Your version sounds great. I sometimes mix in crumbled blue cheese. It's also good with crumbled bacon and cooked greens (chard, kale, spinach, broccoli rabe)

  5. Oh, this sounds delicious. I go to TJs on occasion, so I'll have to look for the mix and try my own variations. Thanks for sharing!