Summer fare

NUTRISPEAK
by Vesanto Melina

When we get a spontaneous invite to a picnic, one easy choice is to stop by a supermarket or natural foods store and pick up one or more varieties of hummus or guacamole along with an assortment of raw veggies or crackers. If we have a little more preparation time before a barbecue or other event, here are two recipes that are sure to be enjoyed.

Portobello mushrooms are a favourite plant-based burger. They are easy to prepare and take on the flavour of whichever marinade you choose. For a cookout, serve these on whole-grain buns. For an easy meal at home, serve them on a bed of grains with a salad or beside the quinoa salad that follows. This burger recipe is adapted from www.forksoverknives.com

Portobello mushroom burgers

3 tbs. low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
3 tbs. maple syrup or other sweetener
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tbs. grated ginger
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 large portobella mushrooms, stemmed

For marinade, combine tamari, maple syrup, garlic, ginger and pepper in a small bowl; mix well. Place mushrooms, stem side up, on a dish. Pour the marinade over the mushrooms and let marinate for 1 hour. Prepare the grill. Pour excess marinade off the mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Place mushrooms on the grill. Grill each side for 4 minutes, brushing with marinade every few minutes. Variation: during the last few minutes of grilling, brush mushrooms with barbecue sauce.

Fiesta quinoa salad with lime dressing (makes 4 1/2 cups)

This recipe is from the popular Cooking Vegetarian by Melina and Forest (HarperCollins). Quinoa is an ancient grain, native to the high Andes regions of South America, introduced to North America in the 1980s. It is often called a “supergrain” because of its excellent protein content and nutritional profile.

Cooking quinoa

1-1/2 cups water
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp. salt

Bring water to boil over high heat, stir in quinoa and salt, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed. Set aside to cool.

Lime dressing

3 tbsp lime juice
2-3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
Pinch pepper

Combine lime juice, olive oil, sesame oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over cooled quinoa mixture and toss gently with fork. Adjust seasoning.

Assemble salad

1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup diced sweet red pepper
2 tbsp. finely chopped green onion (optional)
4 tsp. finely chopped parsley or cilantro

Add the cucumber, corn, red pepper, green onion (if using) and parsley to the dressed quinoa. Stir well to incorporate all ingredients. Adjust the seasoning and serve.

Vesanto Melina is a Vancouver dietitian (www.nutrispeak.com) and co-author of the award winning Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition. Once a month, she co-hosts a “Snackluck” event at Vancouver Cohousing with Meatless Meetup. Everyone brings a delicious vegan snack to share. Sometimes, there is a small fee to cover the film rental.www.nutrispeak.com

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