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Spinach Mushroom and Cranberry Quinoa

Spinach Mushroom and Cranberry Quinoa Spinach Mushroom and Cranberry Quinoa

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving hanging out with your family and friends! We’re having another magical mystical morning today. The sun is shining through the trees, giving the canyon a warm backlit pinkish glow. It’s been a quiet weekend. During the holidays L.A. takes on a small town feel: quiet streets and a chilled out vibe. Every year I ask myself, “why can’t L.A. always be like this?”Ah, the price you pay for living in Southern California. Los Angeles has everything: the magestic Pacific Ocean, the crystal snow of Big Bear and Lake Arowhead, to the dry, flat heat of Palms Springs and the Mohave Desert. Amid so much natural beauty, you have to smile, share the love, and pass it on.

When it comes to holiday eating, I like to carve out my own path. In my own humble opinion, the surprise of something new on the table is just that much more interesting. By following my nose, nature nudges me into what flows to the table. Don’t get me wrong, I love the usual pumpkin pie, stuffing, gravy, green beans, and the like, but it can be refreshing to try something new. 

Spinach Mushroom Cranberry Quinoa was thrown together for an afternoon playdate for my friend Vicky and her son Oliver. Of course I had my usual Blueberry Banana Muffins for the kids, but I always like to make a little extra effort for the Moms in the house. Vicky loves a little twist in the food department as much as I do, so I knew I could try something a wee left of center. We both love the savory  flavor with a hint of sweetness from the cranberries, and the roasted pumpkin seeds takes the dish to the next level. An unexpected bonus: her four-year old son Oliver loved it, and gobbled it right up (Jake’s a muffin man I’m afraid). Just when you think you’ve got your kids pegged, there’s always nice surprise waiting for you. 

 Spinach Mushroom and Cranberry Quinoa
Laurel Canyon Blvd. Thanksgiving weekend.

 Spinach Mushroom and Cranberry Quinoa
Old School Charm

Spinach Mushroom and Dried Cherry Quinoa

2 cups uncooked quinoa (red or white quinoa works)
3 tablespoons olive oil
half a red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups fresh spinach, rinsed and chopped
2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 3/4 cups vegetable stock
pink Himalayan sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
roasted pumpkin seeds for garnish

1. Rinse the quinoa in a sieve with filtered water for a minute (takes away the bitter taste). Set aside.
2. In a saucepan, on medium heat bring the vegetable stock to a rolling boil. Add the quinoa, and bring the grain back to boil, then lower to medium heat, cover and cooking (with the top slightly ajar) for 20-25 minutes or until tender. Turn off heat, cover, and set aside.
3. In a frying pan, cook the onions on medium heat for one minute, then stir in the garlic, taking care not to let the garlic burn. Add the mushrooms, cooking for 3 minutes, or until softened, then add the spinach. Stir and cover, letting the spinach wilt for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. 

3. In a large mixing bowl, add the quinoa, vegetables, and cherries. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Lightly toss, sprinkle with roasted pumpkin seeds and serve. Delicious hot or cold.  

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