When Time Runs Out on Dinner

Cumin seeds

Happens to me all the time.  Mostly because I plan about 3 times as many chores and activities in one day than are humanly possible.  Not a good strategy as it leaves me cranky just about dinner time when I’m already hungry.  A few nights ago, part of my ridiculously long list of plans for the day included making a quinoa casserole that I found on-line.  It was an interesting recipe and we are trying to be meatless a little more often, so the choice seemed more virtuous than ambitious at the time.  The recipe had 18 ingredients. It was indeed a bit ambitious at the end of a long list of chores.

Time to cook dinner arrived.  I mentally noted all of the unfinished tasks that would head up my list for the next day and read the recipe more closely.  I know.  Not the best time to read a recipe beyond the ingredient list.

Rats.  There was no way I could make it and then bake it, have us eat it, and still get to TaeKwonDo on time.  So, I just pared the recipe down a little and went with a few flavors that have always worked for me and my family.

When I start with sauteed onion, garlic and cumin seed, the kitchen begins to smell fabulous and family members ask in anticipation, “What are you making?”  From there, in a much lighter mood myself, I need only add whatever is in the vegetable drawer and a grain or some meat – if necessary ; )

To the cumin seed, onion and garlic I added cinnamon because that was one of the ingredients that drew me to the complicated recipe in the first place. While I was chopping zucchini, carrots, and a little swiss chard, I boiled water with bouillon for quinoa.  After the zucchini and carrots were softening I added the swiss chard and some raw cashews for protein (and crunchy flavor), and salt.

Mix it all together and sprinkle a few raisins on top if desired.

It was delicious and took about 25 minutes.  Here is a better breakdown on the ingredients if you’d like to try it – but feel free to substitute and delete and re-do when time runs out on dinner.  Spice amounts are approximate because I was dumping, not measuring… buyer beware.   Maybe I’ll dump a few chores from tomorrow’s list!

Olive oil for pan
1 med-lge onion
1-2 cloves garlic
2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 med. zucchini
3-4 med. carrots
3-4 swiss chard leaves
1 cup raw cashews
2 cup dry quinoa
bouillon or stock (if desired for boiling quinoa)

Heat 4 cups water or stock
Heat oil in large skillet and add onions, crushed garlic, cumin seeds and cinnamon
When onion is transparent and cumin seeds are popping, add chopped carrots and zucchini
When water is boiling, add quinoa, stir, cover and turn heat down to low
Stir veggies occasionally and add swiss chard and cashews when carrots are softening.
Salt as desired.
Quinoa is done when water is absorbed and halos around individual grains are separating.
Mix together or serve side by side with raisins on top if desired.

5 responses

    • Delicious, spontaneous surprises are hiding in our pantry. If only there was some device that could measure all of our speedy additions when we’re under the pressure of hunger. I would pay for something like that – an ingredient tracker. THAT’s what we need! To remember and record all of our improvisational wonder. THAT would be genius, don’t you think?

    • I also find that familiarity with spices becomes an inspiration as you can think of things that might go together. Or even, hmmm I need something that is flavorful but mellow and flowery – I know! Marjoram! Of course there are the mixtures that don’t work well either, but when it works, it feels sooo good!

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