Tofu Pesto Quinoa

Inspiration: All you gluten-free folks who are grappling with a recent decision to cut back on meat.

I have had stomach issues since the day I was born. I was tested for everything under the sun (gluten allergy, celiacs, Crohns, etc) and after excruciating and somewhat invasive exploration, my doctors finally came up with an umbrella diagnoses that still leaves me scratching my head over what the hell is actually okay for me to try to digest. I’m a big fan of Align, which mostly helps keep things in order downstairs, but I still sometimes find myself doubled over in pain over some random food item.

Basically, I’m an enigma. I baffle doctors and my constant mess of a stomach keeps me (and my friends) on their toes. Fun, yes?

What’s the point of sharing my intimate intestinal details on a delicious food blog? Mostly because I have realized that I’m not alone in my pain and frustration. There is an entire culture of tummy-troublers walking around out there, trying desperately to create a diet for themselves that will calm the waves. Some of my friends have found comfort in the gluten-free lifestyle and while I’m not chucking my Sierra Nevada out the window, I’m willing to do a fair share of cutting back on the wheat as well.

This next recipe is delicious, vegetarian, and gluten-free, which can be rare to find, but thanks to Heidi over at 101 Cookbooks, this dish will wow anybody who loves food.

Heather’s Quinoa

from 101 Cookbooks

A splash of extra-virgin olive oil

Pinch of fine grain sea salt

1 shallot, minced

3 cups cooked quinoa* (or brown rice, or other grain)

1 cup corn, fresh or frozen

1 1/2 cups kale, spinach or other hearty green, finely chopped

2 cups extra-firm nigari tofu, browned in a skillet a bit

1/3 cup pesto

1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted

1/4 cup roasted cherry tomatoes** (or chopped sun-dried tomatoes if you don’t have the time to roast your own tomatoes)

In a big skillet heat the olive oil and salt over medium-high heat. Stir in the shallot and cook for a minute or two. Stir in the *cooked quinoa (see below) and corn and cook until hot and sizzling. Stir in the kale and then the tofu, cooking until tofu is heated through. Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the pesto and pumpkin seeds. Mix well so the pesto is spread throughout. Turn everything out onto a platter and top with the cherry tomatoes.

Serves 4 – 6.

*Rinse 2 cups quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer. In a medium saucepan heat the quinoa and 4 cups water until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa fluffs up, about 15 minutes. Quinoa is done when you can see the curlique in each grain, and it is tender with a bit of pop to each bite. Drain any extra water and set aside.

**To roast cherry tomatoes: Heat oven to 350F degrees. Cut each tomato in half and arrange in a large oven-proof baking dish. Mix together a big splash of olive oil, a spoonful of brown sugar, and a few pinches of salt – pour this over the tomatoes. Gently toss them a bit, making sure they all get coated, finishing with each tomato facing cut-side up. Place in the oven and bake for 45 mintutes or  until the tomatoes are shrunken and sweet. I did this hours before dinner and tossed the tomatoes into a tupperware container and placed them in the fridge until about an hour before I needed them.

Roasted tomatoes