My camera of 8 years jammed up the other day, for some reason unbeknownst to me, and stopped taking pictures altogether. An error message appeared on the screen, but despite my best efforts at following what it told me to do, the camera remained stuck. This is the second time this has happened and I was already starting to get nervous. I had been thinking about getting another camera and I felt that it was reading my disloyal thoughts. I had attended a Fujifilm event and was quite charmed by a few of there shiny new cameras. But the surest way to drive me into the arms of another camera is by refusing to work right?
In any case, the more pressing issue at that moment of malfunction was how was I going to take photos of this dish?? You can imagine that it was not a pretty nor calm sight. When I was done pulling out my hair and wailing to the poor guy in the Nikon service center (who, at this point, had the misfortune of knowing me from my past camera travails), I resignedly grabbed the only other photographic device I owned, my phone, and shot these photos.
So please be kind! And I hope these do justice to how delicious this dish really was.
So…my protein bowl. I have always said that one of the places I get food inspiration is restaurant menus. Have you ever read a menu item and thought, “That sounds awesome!” and then have the actual dish be different from you imaginings? Not bad, don’t get me wrong. Just not what you imagined. Well, I say, get into the kitchen and create exactly what you dreamed it would be! Restaurants menus are a wealth of food inspiration I tell you. The next time you dine out read the menu leisurely and see what strikes your fancy. In a menu you are already getting the experience, skill, and talent of a professional chef…all you have to do is make the dish yours. Which, really, is the very best part. Because now you can tweak what is already a great dish to suit your very personal tastes. Don’t like the raisins in that lamb tagine? Make it at home and leave them out! Like adding corn kernels to everything, and wish that salad had them? Make it at home and pile them on! When you cook, it’s your rules…one of my all-time favorite things about cooking.
Moving right along…a new restaurant opened in my neighborhood (I love all the new places opening that are just a walk away from me…keep on coming guys! We still need a taco place, a pintxos and sangria sort of place, and a nice butcher/meatshop). It serves wholesome fare, ingredients sourced locally and sustainably, organic and free-range/gress-fed when and where possible. They have options for vegetarians, vegans, and paleo-ians (is that even a word?). People who know me would probably be a tad shocked that I would even go…seeing as to how I am undeniably attracted to food that is bad for me. But I do love wholesome food too, I swear it! I think my problem is that, barring mince, liver, and maraschino cherries, there is just too much food that I like.
Besides, this restaurant has an incredibly good comp bread in their basket. And I do mean good. My goal is to convince them to sell it so I can have it all the time. Still working on it but I’ll let you know how it goes…
Anyway, they have this dish called a Protein Bowl, of which the main components are quinoa, mushrooms, and chickpeas…all of which I loved. So I decided it recreate it at home, tweaking it to exactly the way I knew I would love it. And love it I did.
My Protein Bowl
(inspired by the Wholesome Table)
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups water
- Olive oil
- 5-6 cloves garlic
- 400 grams mushrooms (I used a mix of baby portobellos and Swiss browns)
- 2 400-gram cans chickpeas, drained
- 1 teaspoons pimenton de La Vera
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 4 eggs
- Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- Handful or parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
– Place the water and the quinoa in a pot and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or until the quinoa is done. I like to cook it for 15 minutes covered and then the last 5 minutes uncovered. When the quinoa is done, fluff it with a fork and spread it on a plate or tray to cool. I like to cool quinoa this way to get rid of excess moisture.
– Place the drained chickpeas on a baking tray and try to blot out as much extra moisture as you can with a paper towel. Drizzle the chickpeas with olive oil, add the pimenton and cumin, then season with salt and pepper. Toss together with your hands to get everything evenly distributed. Place the tray in a pre-heated 350F oven for about 15 minutes, tossing the chickpeas around once or twice. You want to taste them along the way to make sure they don’t get too tough (and to tweak any seasoning if needed).
– While the chickpeas are cooking you can cook your mushrooms. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and when the pan is hot add a few good glugs of olive oil. Add the garlic to the hot oil and stir just until the garlic fragrance wafts up and hits your nose. You don’t want the garlic toasted. Add the mushrooms to the pan and stir to coat in the garlicky oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms release their liquid and the liquid subsequently evaporates. Taste and adjust seasoning.
– Add your quinoa to the mushrooms and toss until everything is thoroughly mixed and the quinoa has taken on the flavors from the mushrooms. Taste and adjust seasoning again. Set the mushroom quinoa aside.
– Boil the eggs to your liking (I like 7 minute eggs, this means straight-from-the-fridge eggs placed carefully into gently boiling water and cooked for 7 minutes). When your eggs are done place them in a bowl of cold water for a couple of minutes, then peel and halve.
– Divide the mushroom quinoa into 4 bowls. Spoon over the chickpeas and a halved egg. Dust with a little extra pimenton and a drizzle of olive oil. Top with chopped parsley.
My version is fairly simpler than the original, there are not as much ingredients (sorry sprouts!), and it is seasoned differently. In my take, I just rely on the seasoning of the mushrooms, which is garlic, and that of the chickpeas, which is cumin and pimenton de la Vera, to lend its flavors to the whole dish. I also add a very non-vegan/vegetarian, but very much protein-packed, and absolutely loved by me, ingredient…egg! My OB/GY once said that the egg was the golden standard of protein and I believe it. Perhaps not for anything more but my extreme love for egg. So anyway here it is. Cook the egg however you wish. I have it hard boiled here to my preferred 7 minutes (this leaves the yolks a little soft still) but you can cook it less or more, or even top this with a poached or fried egg.
This pared-down version is also open to many variations and add-ins. Try adding some greens, either crunchy raw greens (the original had sprouts) or I think some just blanched spinach would be nice. I’ve also had this with some leftover broccoli and peas tossed in. And it is really wonderful topped with some cubed feta. The mushroom quinoa alone can go with a variety of dishes and can act as a rice replacement (if you want to go in that direction).
And so, at the end of it all, it was back to the Nikon service center for me, and it is there where my SLR now rests, awaiting hopeful treatment. I can never get rid of, or stop loving, my faithful partner in this blogging journey now can I? But that doesn’t mean I can’t go get him a partner right? Which, just this week, after much deliberation, I finally did. I am loving my newest baby and I can’t wait to try all her bells and whistles!