November 17, 2011

Vegetable Tian and Mexican Quinoa Salad

The week before Thanksgiving never ceases to amaze me. The days are shorter while the To Do list grows more lengthy by the minute. The last thing we need is our waist lines expanding due to the stress of it all. To help combat the holiday bloat eating light in between grub fests is essential. Cooking with an assortment of vegetables and grains is fun, healthy and can be scrumptious.

Two delightfully healthy dishes have found their way in to my belly this week, and they have a lot in common. They are comforting, warm and hearty without being laden with calories. Think about making them in between gorge sessions. Or enjoy them post-Thanksgiving when we are all joyfully unbuttoning our pants while secretly pleading to the scale gods to keep the damage to a minimum.

Vegetable Tian
Contains Dairy and Gluten

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
1 yellow squash, thinly sliced
1 tomato, thinly sliced
1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed
1 small red onion, sliced in half moons
1 tsp. sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp. Herbes de Provence
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary
¼ cup grated parmesan
6 Carr’s whole wheat crackers, crushed (or your favorite cracker will do. I like the sweetness this brings to the dish)

Preheat oven to 376 degrees. Use extra virgin olive oil to coat a small tian dish. At the bottom of the dish, spread out a layer of asparagus stems (use the tender part of the stems for this and keep the tips to create the design later). Season this layer with salt, pepper, olive oil and Herbes de Provence. Arrange the vegetables on top of this layer in overlapping circles, alternating zucchini, squash, tomatoes, onion and asparagus. Once the vegetables are arranged, sprinkle this layer with salt, pepper, olive oil and Herbes de Provence. In a food processor, quickly pulsate crackers, parmesan and fresh rosemary until coarsely ground. Generously cover the vegetables with the crumb mixture. Bake 30 minutes covered, then uncover and bake for another 20 minutes until vegetables are tender and the top is brown.
Mexican Quinoa Salad

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup quinoa
16 oz extra lean ground chicken breast
6 mini sweet red peppers, thinly sliced
2 tsp. cilantro
1 tsp. cumin
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 15 oz can dark kidney beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup pickled jalapenos, finely diced
½ cup salsa
4 scallions, thinly sliced
Juice and zest of one lime
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook quinoa based on package directions. In a large bowl, marinate the kidney beans in the white wine vinegar while you prepare the rest of the dish.

In a large skillet on medium heat, brown the ground chicken breaking it in to small pieces with a wooden spoon. Add the sweet red pepper, garlic, cilantro, cumin, salt, and pepper stirring occasionally until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Take off the heat; add the zest and juice of one lime.

Combine the quinoa, beans, chicken mixture, pickled jalapenos, scallions and salsa together. Allow the salad to sit for at least 15 minutes so the flavors combine. Mexican quinoa salad is great hot or cold. Top with scallions, salsa or sour cream for garnish.


  1. Since I am going to be the Thanksgiving visitor instead of the host this year, it will be much easier not to stuff myself. Both of these dishes are great light meals, but of course since I am in Texas the second one is the more intriguing. The best thing about these is that they are vastly different from the Thanksgiving meal..which is a good thing for people that are dreading all the leftovers. They can freeze that and prepare these two tasty meals instead. Great post.

  2. I have been trying to do the same thing and go easy on my carbs as I fully plan to stuff myself full of potatoes. I am really attracted to that tian!

  3. Two perfect dishes before the holiday pig out next week! The tian looks especially tempting~

  4. Both these dishes look like winners to me. I know what you mean about the days getting shorter. I hate when the time falls back and it gets dark by 5pm. :(

  5. Love, love, LOVE these dishes! So beautiful and what a creative quinoa salad!

  6. Girl, you don't know how timely these are. I bet you $10 we have both of these this weekend. We're in need of some yummy, HEALTHY dishes :) Looks great

  7. Anything with veg is those that we simply love at home and both of the recipes will be the types we enjoy, very nice and tempting.

  8. Tian is new to me - I can't wait to try it out. It is such a versatile concept!

  9. You described my week to a "t"! Your vegetables have me really excited! I might just try to make that for dinner tonight. I eat light most days and limit indulgences to very very small portions or very rare...I do pretty good with an occasional slip-up but hey, we only live once! :)

    I discovered quinoa last summer and I was quite pleasantly surprised! I love the taste and the texture. This would be great for a side or even lunch!

    Thank you for sharing and for stopping by to say hi! I am now following you on Twitter too!

  10. I like the idea of subbing crushed cracker for bread crumbs in the tian!

  11. Now this is one heck of a beatuful dish! WOW!

  12. They both look deliciously interesting! Would love to try the Vegetable Tian!

  13. You are amazing. These both look incredible. I love them both but am partial to the tian. You are a rock star!

  14. I wish we could have a pot luck and you could bring these....

  15. Proper Mediterranean veg! Love it. Warming and wintry.

  16. PappaRazzi here: News Flash! Grubarazzi is coming home for Bird Day. We're very excited and you should be too. She better be eating nothing but vegetables and quinoa because I just came back from Thanksgiving shopping and I think I bought one vegetable, haricots verts. We're taking some risks, going out on the Recipe Limb if you will, with two turkeys. One with an original untested Apple Cider injection Applewood smoked recipe ...hope it turns out, it's tasting good in my brain. In the Grubarazzi culinary spirit we will be taking some of those quick-out-of-a-can recipes and making them from scratch (crispy onions in a can, BaH!), so watch your Twitter over the holidays!


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