This dish really did begin with a clear-out-the-frig mission, and it wound up tasting so good, I just decided to include it on the blog. It resembles a previous breakfast recipe that also uses quinoa called Quinoa Breakfast Bowls, but the current version is meant to be more versatile… and more green, helping you clear out the frig and avoid end-of-the-week-waste.
A couple of weeks ago when my farmers market had just gotten into full swing, I ended up with the following leftovers at week’s end: a half-cup plain cooked quinoa, one carrot that was barely starting to get “flexible”, a quarter of a yellow onion, two big leaves of kale that were beginning to show a tinge of yellow at the edges, about two tablespoons of raw walnuts (sitting in the bottom of a jar in my pantry) and about a quarter-cup homemade vegetable stock. Instead of throwing out these meager ingredients, I got creative and brave, and you can, too. Check out the recipe below, taking note of all the many options. Just because my version is vegan, doesn’t mean yours has to be—leftover diced chicken? You bet! Cold salmon from dinner last night? Toss it in! “Thank goodness it’s Friday” will suddenly take on a whole new tasty, healthy and green meaning!
- Oil of choice: a good-quality extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, raw coconut oil or peanut oil
- One cup diced vegetable mixture such as onion (any kind), carrots, potatoes (white or sweet), turnips, zucchini, summer squash, patty pans, mushrooms, chopped kale or spinach, etc.
- One-half cup choice of protein such as cooked quinoa, crumbled extra-firm tofu (drained really well), diced cooked chicken, beef or pork
- One-half cup cooked grain and/or legume such as brown rice, wheatberries, bulger, black beans or lentils
- Chopped nuts and seeds such as walnuts, sunflower seeds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, pistachios or almonds
- One-half to one cup vegetable stock (depends on how much other stuff is in your skillet)
- One tablespoon miso paste (or some Tamari or fermented amino acids—something to add a flavor pop)
- Sea salt and spices to taste
- Begin by heating your oil in a nonstick skillet. Sauté your sturdiest vegetables first with a dash of sea salt. I also included a sprinkle of garlic powder and a little turmeric and cumin. Then, as the first set of vegetables soften and get shiny, add more until you have them all shiny and somewhat soft. You will want to add leafy greens last. Takes about 10-15 minutes.
- Add your leftover protein choice and your leftover grain choice next with a bit more salt, stirring everything into the cooking vegetables. I also like to add in the nuts and seeds at this point to give them a light “toasting.” Add in any pungent spices such as curry now, too, so that they have a chance to bloom. Note that animal protein and tofu will take longer to cook than precooked quinoa, so just watch your skillet. After about 10 to 15 minutes, your “scramble” should be starting to take shape.
- At this point, I dissolved my tablespoon of miso into my half-cup of stock and then added it into the skillet. For me, this gave added vegan protein to my breakfast and a big pop of flavor. If you’d prefer other flavors like Tamari, by all means. It’s your leftover masterpiece. Once it is heated through, it’s ready to eat.
Prep and cook times are relative to ingredients here. But since you are using leftovers, the process goes pretty quickly and smoothly. This dish goes really well with fresh market berries or orange slices.
Not bad for using up the produce at the bottom of the frig with leftover proteins and grains, eh? I really want to stress that this is not a hard-and-fast recipe. It can really include anything you want that falls under the categories of vegetables, nuts and seeds, grains, and proteins. Got an egg sitting around? Crack it open and toss it on top near the end; cover the skillet with a lid and let it cook until sunny-side up perfect. There are other nice qualities about this dish besides its efficient use of leftovers: simple preparation with very low sugar and very high nutrition. If you can heat food in a skillet, you can make this dish.
There is no reason to keep this strictly vegan, either, unless you want to. I do choose vegan meals many times because they make me feel so good. Vegan dishes seem to digest well for me personally, and I am always happy to keep my carbon footprint low while in the kitchen, which vegan cooking affords.
If you are thinking about adding more vegan meals to your diet, recipes like this one will help you adjust ingredients and still maintain quality protein—and that’s important because people who eat strictly vegan must be mindful of adequate sources of complete protein and make sure they include enough of them in their daily diets. Sound hard? Actually, it’s not, but it is essential. Take a look at this article from Positive Health Wellness. They have provided some handy information on how to get complete protein in a vegan diet.
So, what’s at the bottom of your frig this week? Whip it up into a scramble and let us know how it goes.