Tag Archives: lemon zest

Quinoa Tabbouleh

24 Sep

I am a lover of Middle-eastern food… ever since I visited Israel 15 years ago, I have been a fan of falafels, hummus, pita bread, rice pilaf, dolmades, among others.

Tabbouleh would be part of that fan list, however, the tabboulehs made usually in Middle-Eastern restaurants are too heavy on the parsley for my taste.  And now that I am trying to avoid wheat sometimes, well I rather order the arab salad of tomatoes, cucumbers and onions and skip the tabbouleh all together.  Traditionally, tabbouleh is made with cracked wheat.

For the last time I cooked in the Yoga Center, I wanted to make a Middle-Eastern inspired menu and it all revolved around the fact I wanted to make this salad.  We made hummus, a salad with mixed herbs including mint, rice with spinach, mushrooms and nuts, which is not like the rice pilafs I am used to having at middle-eastern restaurants, but it fit better for the Yoga appetites.

This recipe also makes use of the abundance of avocados we have right now in Puerto Rico…  and what dish is not instantly improved by adding avocado to it??


Recipe by KarmaFree Cooking


2 cups of quinoa

1 vegetable bouillon cube

The zest and juice of 6 yellow lemons

2 bunches of scallions, thinly sliced

1 large red onion, finely chopped

1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 cup of fresh spearmint leaves, julienned

4 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved

2 seedless cucumbers, unpeeled and diced

1 avocado, diced

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper


  1. Cook the quinoa first… by adding 4 cups of water to a medium saucepan with the vegetable bouillon cube.  When the water reaches a boiling point, add the quinoa.  Add a drizzle of olive oil, just like you would when making rice.  Cover and lower the heat to simmer until the quinoa cooks, about 15-20 minutes.
  2. After the quinoa is done, fluff it with a fork and season with ¼ cup of the olive oil and the zest and juice of 3 lemons.  Set aside.  If you are making this ahead of time, you can stop here and store the cooked quinoa in the refrigerator after it has had a chance to cool off a bit.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the scallions, onions, parsley, spearmint leaves, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  Add the cooked quinoa and toss all the ingredients together.  Season the whole salad with the additional ¼ cup of olive oil, the zest and juice of the remaining 3 lemons, salt and pepper to taste.  Toss again well to combine.  Let all the flavors combine about 30mins – 1 hour before serving.

When you’re about to serve, garnish with the pieces of avocado.  Serve at room temperature or refrigerate and serve cold.

Quinoa Pasta with Baby Spinach

14 Jan

I love pastas… and when trying to do gluten-free for a few weeks, I crave it more and more each day.

We found this new pasta over at Costco – QUINOA PASTA!! I was skeptical at first, but it’s awesome! Cooks just the same and even better, I might add, than Tinkyada Rice Pasta, which for years has been my gluten-free pasta of choice. It withstands being left in hot water better than rice pasta.

This is a great recipe that combines pasta and salad all rolled into one… it’s basically pasta, salad and vinaigrette. It’s easy to make, delicious to eat, fast as it takes as long as the pasta takes cooking and even works great for company. I am planning to make this for someone new I’ve been seeing lately. Shhhhhh!!!! But, that’s just between you and me, OK??



2 heaping cups of dry quinoa pasta
4-5 large handful baby spinach
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2-3 tbs of olive oil
The zest of 1 lemon
The juice of ½ of that same lemon
¼ cup parmesan cheese, optional
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and cook pasta according to the package directions. I usually boil the pasta for about 7-8 minutes, kill the heat, cover the pot and allow the pasta to continue cooking in the hot water.
  2. In a skillet over mdium-low heat, add about 2tbs of olive oil and the 2 garlic cloves. The garlic will infuse the oil with its taste. Allow the garlic to cook a bit in the hot oil, but don’t fry it, cook it just until it starts to change colors. Take the garlic pieces out and discard them. Turn off the heat and add the lemon zest, the juice and season with salt and pepper. Mix together and keep in hold until the pasta is done.
  3. Drain the pasta and return to the same pot. Add the baby spinach and the olive oil/lemon mixture. Toss well to combine. The heat of the pot and the pasta will start to wilt a bit the spinach. It’s possible you may need to add the spinach in batches, but that’s ok. I like that some of the spinach wilts more than others.
  4. Add an additional drizzle of olive oil and the parmesan cheese, if using. Toss one last time to combine and serve immediately.

Plum and Blueberry Crisp

10 Sep

I am not the most proficient baker, particularly when having to make something for 20+ people…   so when Angie at the yoga center asked me to help her with a dessert for the yoga center, I usually think of something fruity and simple that will not require lots of kneading or beating.  Because with as many kitchen implements there are at the center, there is not an electric mixer.

I remembered a few episodes of Good Eats and Barefoot Contessa where they made fruit cobblers or crisps.  I always enjoyed the cherry cobblers when I used to eat at Bonanza.  But I guess something fresher than cherry pie filling would be more suitable for the buffet dinner at the Yoga Center.

We used gluten-free flour mix and non-dairy shortening to accommodate for the many allergies and tastes at the center…  although I have seen MANY eat wheat and cheese galore when traveling and they present no “allergies issues”…  go figure, huh?



4 lbs of fresh plums
12oz of blueberries – I used frozen
2/3 cup of organic granulated sugar
5 tbs of cornstarch
1 tbs of lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
For the Topping
1 1/3 cups of gluten-free flour
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1/3 cup of organic granulated sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 sticks of non-dairy “butter”, cut into small pieces – I used Earth Balance and I recommend maybe freezing it before using
1 cup of walnuts, toasted
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Wash the plums well and cut an X at the bottom of each fruit using a paring knife.  Place the plums in the hot water for about 1 minute until you see the skins start of peel off.  Transfer the plums to a large bowl with ice water using a large colander.  This will stop the cooking immediately…
  2. Peel the plums, which should be easier after they’ve been blanched.  Slice them into ½” slices. 
  3. Place the sliced plums in a large baking dish.  Add the blueberries, the lemon zest, lemon juice, 2/3 cup of sugar and cornstarch.  Mix well together. Set aside.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
  5. In a separate bowl we’ll mix the crisp topping – the gluten-free flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, walnuts and non-dairy butter.  Using your hands (or maybe even better an electric hand mixer) mix well all the ingredients to achieve a cornmeal texture.  If the “butter” is not super well chilled you’ll make a huge mess.  It’s still taste good, but be ready for a messy mess in your hands.
  6. Drop pieces of the crisp topping over the fruits.  The topping does not need to evenly cover the fruits, but try to have globs of topping as evenly spaced as possible over the fruits.
  7. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes until the topping gets as golden brown as possible.  I did this in an oven that’s not mine and I had to increase the temp a bit to 385F for about 10 minutes to get a nicer golden color.


Allow the crisp to cool down for about 1 hour before you serve it.  It’s delicious warm or even room temperature.  A nice scoop of vanilla ice cream wouldn’t be bad either.

The dessert was a complete hit… that’s why we’re posting here for all to have access to it.  Enjoy!!!

Herbed Roasted Potatoes

27 Jan

This is one of the easiest and nicest side dishes you can create.  I make it in a toaster oven while I prepare the main dish.



2 lbs of red skin or other waxy potatoes, washed and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tbs garlic salt
2 tbs Italian seasonings 
2 tbs white pepper
2 tbs parsley – dried or fresh
2 tbs kosher salt
2 tbs lemon zest
2 tbs paprika (optional)
4 tbs Liquid soy margarine – I eye-ball this usually… enough to coat the potatoes.
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix together all the herbs and spices – garlic salt, Italian seasonings, white pepper, parsley, kosher salt, lemon zest and paprika, if using.
  3. Drizzle a small amount of the liquid margarine and “butter” the baking dish or roasting pan you’ll be using to roast these potatoes.  This way you’ll ensure the potatoes will not stick to the bottom. 
  4. Place cubed potatoes in the roasting pan or dish in a single layer.  Drizzle liquid margarine on top of potatoes and sprinkle the herb mixture.  Using your clean hands, massage the potatoes with the margarine and the herb mixture until the potato cubes are all slathered with margarine and herbs.
  5. Roast in oven for about 30-35 minutes – until potatoes are golden brown and soft when you pierce them with a knife.  Move them around the half-time mark if you want.  I sometimes forget and they usually turn out OK.
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