Last night, I threw together another quinoa salad. I needed some comforting, and I knew a quinoa salad would do it. This time, I roasted an eggplant and a couple of tomatoes, tossed in some basil and diced spring onions, and served it up with a creamy lemon dressing. It was good, both warm and cold, but especially warm, I think the cold version could have used some baby spinach tossed in for good measure. It was comforting, but I did still resort to ice cream and hot fudge later in the evening… and then nachos and a hard cider even later… not really the way to look good in a bathing suit this summer.

The quinoa salad I made had lots of flavor, which was not true, sadly, of the Lucky Green Tea Quinoa bowl that I had at R. Thomas’ Deluxe Grill the other day. A friend and I decided to check out R. Thomas’ because they have a fairly extensive range of gluten-free options and their chef really pays attention to his ingredients. The first thing I noticed about R. Thomas’ is that this is not the typical Buckhead restaurant. The side of the building is lined with birds in cages, happily singing away, and the whole restaurant seems to have been beamed in from a different planet, or maybe just Berkeley in the seventies. The menu is vegetarian and vegan friendly, but there are also plenty of free-range meat options. I immediately zeroed in on the quinoa bowls (hello, my name is Lynn, and I’m a quinoa-holic).

I had heard that the Thai Quinoa bowl was amazing, but since they let the local paper print that recipe, I plan on making it soon and wanted something different. I decided on the Lucky Green Tea bowl because it sounded interesting and flavorful. The vegetables were fresh and tasty, the quinoa was good, but I couldn’t taste the green tea or the miso. There was also supposedly some wasabi in the bowl, but I couldn’t taste even a hint of it. I mixed in a purple relish that was hanging out on the side of the plate, and that kicked up the flavor a bit, but at almost $12, I was disappointed. Still, I bet there are some real winners on their menu. My friend’s burger was very good, and so was her Raw Spicy Gingerade. Next time, I’m trying the Down Home.

R. Thomas’ Deluxe Grill
1812 Peachtree St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30309

For a gluten free menu, look here. This menu is not available in the restaurant, so print it out and take it with you. I forgot to do this, but my server was quite comfortable helping me figure out what I could eat (it helps that 70% of their menu is okay… even the chicken piccatta)

Recipe after the jump

You may remember that this week, in an attempt to keep my grocery bill down, I vowed to make it until May without going to the grocery store. Well I did it, but it was a bit challenging.

Dinners weren’t too bad. I did have salmon in the freezer, and lots of leftover vegetables lying around, which helped immensely. Lunch was slightly harder, but making the pizza really helped. But breakfast, breakfast was by far the most challenging.

I was pretty much out of cereal the day I decided to wait on the grocery store. Now, if I go more than thirty minutes after waking up before I eat, I’m grumpy, starving, and convinced the world is going to end. So, cooking in the morning isn’t really a great option for me. If I have gluten-free oats, I do love oatmeal. But my last oatmeal kick was when I was traveling a lot to DC, before going gluten-free, and my mom would make me oatmeal and a cappuccino every morning before I went down to the Folger. The beauty of that arrangement was that I didn’t have to worry about cooking, and she woke up earlier than I did, so I could still go from awake to eating in 15 minutes flat.

But this week I tried, I made black bean cakes and ate them with eggs. That took me almost an hour, probably because I had never made the recipe before, but also because I was dragging my heels getting started. They were good when I ate them, but I was almost dizzy with hunger. This morning, I made quinoa pancakes (and yes, it was May already this morning, but I still haven’t been to the grocery store). I bought this quinoa flour months ago, and took one sniff, and left it on the shelf next to the bean flour. Which is sort of amusing, given that I love quinoa salads, and the flour smells like the grain. But somehow, in flour form, I found quinoa frightening, until this morning.

I loved these pancakes. I can’t promise that they taste like normal pancakes. They don’t, but in these pancakes that is a good thing. The quinoa adds a complexity of flavor and a nice nuttiness. After my pancakes were ready I couldn’t find any syrup, which was slightly tragic. But they weren’t bad with powdered sugar, and hours later I found myself sneaking back into the kitchen to have another one, cold, as a mid-morning snack, with no topping on top. Now I am not normally a cold pancake eater, but these were good that way too, which makes me anxious to try quinoa muffins next. Of course, nothing will every quite replace my cereal. As I was running today I stopped at the local Kroger and found gluten-free Rice Chex in stock, at last. So, tomorrow I might be eating cereal and leftover pancakes.

This is my entry for May’s “Go ahead honey it’s gluten free!” which is hosted here.

Recipe after the jump

“I actually cooked something I really liked!” Maureen exclaimed one evening, about a month ago, as I walked in the door around 9:30 after teaching a class for Kaplan. Now, Maureen and I do fairly even duty in the kitchen, at least when it comes to dinners. But she had made a string of meals that while perfectly edible, she considered failures, so cooking was becoming a little disheartening. This salad, however, was excellent, and has hopefully restored her confidence. We happily ate it for lunch several days in a row without getting tired of it, and we made it again for our cook-out this weekend, only this time I helped. Most of our guests had never had quinoa before, but they all seemed to enjoy their first excursion.

So assuming some of you, too, have never had Quinoa, here is a short introduction. Quinoa is a pseudo grain — it is actually a seed, but it behaves like a grain. To prepare it, you simmer the seeds in water (or broth) until they’ve absorbed all of the liquid, just like you do when you make rice. Quinoa has a subtle nutty flavor when cooked, and can easily be substituted for bulger in recipes like tabbouleh or it can be used in place of couscous. Because, quinoa is not really a grain, it is a great choice for passover, as well. Even better, quinoa contains a complete protein, is high in antioxidants, magnesium, and is a good source of fiber — making quinoa a healthier choice than wheat or rice. If you live in Atlanta you can buy it in bulk at the Dekalb Farmers Market both in seed and flour form. I haven’t actually played around much with quinoa while baking, but when I do you’ll be sure to hear about it.

But really, if you’ve never tried quinoa, this recipe is a great introduction. But don’t stop there: also try Heidi Swanson’s Lemon Scented Quinoa or her Delicious Big Bowl – Quinoa, both of which are sure to please. Or, be like me and substitute the couscous for quinoa in Smitten Kitchen’s Couscous and feta-stuffed peppers. These peppers were amazing (or maybe I just have a thing for quinoa and feta together).
Recipe after the jump