Thursday, July 8, 2010

Vegetable Croquettes and Quinoa-Watermelon Salad with Citrus-Basil Vinaigrette

    How's that for a mouthful of a title?  Last night's dinner was just a vague idea in my mind that I kind of made up as I was going along.  I started with a basic kid-friendly dish that I wanted to use--a slight variation of a vegetable croquette recipe from Super Foods for Babies and Children and expanded my meal idea from there.  While visiting with my sister-in-law last weekend she told me about a watermelon salad with fresh basil she'd sampled at Whole Foods.  I thought I'd like to try to make something similar so at first that was my plan.  Then I realized we wouldn't have a protein in the meal, so thought I'd try to make the watermelon salad with quinoa and beans. It sounds like a weird combination, but it worked.  I actually had the leftover salad, cold, for lunch today, and liked it even better than I did last night.  The flavors really developed overnight and it was delicious.  It would be a great cold salad to bring on a picnic or to a potluck.
   If I ever have a meal with a lot of busy-work type prep, like chopping vegetables and such, I try to start it early so I don't have to do it all at once.  I started the croquettes while Meghan was napping so all I needed to do at dinner time was bread and saute them.
 Vegetable Croquettes
2 potatoes
1 small head broccoli florets
1 vidalia onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. butter
1/2 cup grated carrot
1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper
~3/4 cup Whole wheat flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, plus 3 T. wheat germ (optional)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups breadcrumbs, plus 2 T. ground flaxseed meal (optional)
coconut oil for sauteing

I love the idea of these vegetables being the basis for our main course!

Step 1:  Scrub the potatoes and cook them in a large pot of salted boiling water for 20+ minutes, until tender and ready to mash.  The original recipe calls for the potatoes to be peeled. If you feel compelled to peel your potatoes, go for it, but I see no reason to peel off the nutrients!
Steam the broccoli for approximately 4-5 minutes, until it turns bright green.  (Don't overdo it)  Chop the steamed broccoli into small pieces.   Saute the onion and garlic in the butter for about 2 minutes. Add the carrot and continue for another minute or so.

Step 2:  Drain the potatoes, mash them, and then mix in the cheese.  Add the broccoli and onion-carrot mixture and combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Step 3:  Form into burgers.  You should have 12.  At this point, my burgers went in the fridge for later and I began making the vinaigrette.  I will continue with the croquette recipe, though, for continuity's sake.
Step 4:  Put your flour mixture, beaten eggs, and breadcrumb mixture in three separate bowls and create an assembly line.  

Step 5:  Coat each croquette with seasoned flour, dip in the egg, then the bread crumbs, back in the egg, and then a final coating of bread crumbs.  Saute in the coconut oil until golden brown.  

I knew we wouldn't eat all 12 of the croquettes, so I froze some of them before sauteing.  


Citrus-Basil Vinaigrette

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 T. apple cider vinegar 
juice from 1 large orange
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil 
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

In a small bowl, mix together oil, vinegar, and orange juice.  Whisk until oil and vinegar emulsify.  Add basil and salt and pepper to taste.  


Set aside--you will use half for the quinoa salad and half to drizzle over the croquettes.  

Quinoa-Watermelon Salad

1 cup rinsed quinoa
1 3/4 cup water
2 cups cubed watermelon
1 1/2 cups cooked navy beans, or 1 15 oz. can, drained and rinsed
1/2 recipe of Citrus-Basil Vinaigrette dressing (see above)  
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring quinoa and water to a boil. Stir once, and reduce heat to low.  Cover and cook for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow quinoa to steam for an additional 10 minutes (do not remove lid).  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together watermelon and beans.  When quinoa is ready, allow to cool for a few minutes and then add it to the bowl and stir to combine.  Add 1/2 of the Citrus-Basil Vinaigrette dressing and stir to coat evenly.  Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  May be served warm or cold.  

I started each plate with a bed of romaine dressing, then added the croquettes and drizzled them with the remaining dressing.  I also placed the salad on top of the romaine.  Add extra dressing as desired.  

I loved all the summertime flavors in this meal.  It's a keeper!  


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