Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A (fairly) Quick Lunch

Anyone who has read the "Jump Starts" section of my book Speed Vegan would know that I strongly favor the practice of keeping on hand some flavor-enhancing homemade preparations, such as garlic oil, chipotle chile puree, and the like. The reason, they would also know, which is that when you have limited time and want to throw something delicious together, a few such condiments can make the difference between acceptable and spectacular. I also keep a number of stellar spices and spice mixtures in stock, for the same reason.

Take today, for example.  I had driven my car down to the local mechanic to have the brake pads replaced, and had run the mile or so back up the mountain to my house, so I wanted a high-protein meal. I was then going to be writing all afternoon, so I also wanted something that wouldn't heavy me out as I sat at the computer. It was a busy day, and I was giving myself a short time to have lunch. So here's how I approached it:

I put some quinoa on to cook, with a couple of handfuls of frozen corn and a vegetable bouillon cube. While it was cooking (about 15 minutes), I sautéed some diced onion and zucchini in a little coconut oil with a generous sprinkling of Aleppo pepper and salt. About five minutes in, I added a couple of diced roasted red peppers. Just before the quinoa was done, when just a little liquid remained in the pot, I dumped the whole thing into the pan with the vegetables. Then I added some frozen green peas and stirred it all together. I covered the pan, lowered the heat, and let it stew gently while I reheated some baby spinach I had blanched the night before, with just enough water to keep it from sticking. When it was hot, I took it off the flame and stirred in some Simple Garlic Udo's Oil (recipe, from Omega 3 Cuisine, below), salt and pepper. By then the quinoa was ready. I spread a bed of the spinach out on a plate, mounded some of the quinoa mixture in the center, and sprinkled freshly chopped cilantro over the top. Then I added some drops of my homemade sriracha sauce all around, and that was lunch--in 20 minutes flat.

Now, you might tell me it would have been pretty good without the Aleppo pepper, roasted peppers, garlic oil and sriracha sauce. And you'd be right. But I don't like to shoot for pretty good; I like to go for extraordinary. And this lunch was pretty good, by my standards.

Simple Garlic Udo's Oil 
Makes about 1 cup
What could be easier? If you like garlic, this will immediately become a staple in your kitchen. It's the quickest and easiest oil infusion, requiring no straining, decanting or any other monkeying around. Properly steamed vegetables really need nothing else. Merely drizzle some of this oil on them, and you have something anyone can eat with pleasure. It'll make pedestrian mashed potatoes into something truly special. Keep some of this on hand in your refrigerator and you'll discover many uses for it. It's a standard ingredient in many of the recipes in Omega 3 Cuisine.

4 to 7 cloves garlic (see note)
1 cup Udo's Oil

Pass the garlic cloves through a garlic press into a small jar. Add the oil and stir. Pour into a glass jar or bottle and refrigerate until ready to use.

Note: You may prefer to use less than 4 or more than 7 cloves garlic, according to your taste.



  1. This garlic oil sounds great! However, folks like me who are allergic to soy and soy-derived products might like to try it using Brendan Brazier's Vega Antioxidant EFA Oil Blend instead of the Udo's Oil.

  2. Thanks--I've never run into anyone who pointed this out before.

    I love Vega products, but I haven't tried the oil. I seem to remember it contains hemp oil? If so, the flavor might be a little strong for some people. Worth a try, tough, especially if your body doesn't get along with soy.