Tag Archives: red pepper

Quinoa Pilaf

6 Jun

I have never heard of quinoa until I met Diane Carlson a few years back. Diane is the wonderful chef behind the Conscious Gourmet culinary retreats and one of the founders of the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC.

I took one of these culinary retreats once when they were still offered in Florida and it was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. I still carry with me recipes and friendships from that retreat. And at that retreat was where I learned I could use a blog to share my recipes with all of you. So many good things came about from that retreat. I am thankful…

But this is not my recipe… This quinoa recipe is Diane’s recipe that has become my way of making quinoa ever since. I have made some tweaks to it by all the times I have made it, but I can’t take full credit for it. Diane taught me how to make quinoa and she should get the credit.

Now quinoa is all the rage. I hear its super popular way west in California. And us at the yoga center make it a lot too. The first time I bought quinoa was at Whole Foods right after finishing the retreat because I thought I would not be able to find it here in Puerto Rico. Now, I can buy it at Costco in 3 lbs bags. How things change, no??


1 cup quinoa, rinsed under cold water and drained well
1 ¾ cup vegetable broth
½ tsp salt
2 tbs olive oil
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 carrot, peeled and cut into very small pieces
1 rib of celery, chopped finely
½ red bell pepper, chopped finely
½ green bell pepper, chopped finely
½ cup peas, frozen works fine
Salt and Pepper to taste
¼ cup of chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
  1. In a large pot, toast quinoa over medium-hi heat. Stir it occasionally until the grain is nearly dry. Then, stir constantly about 5 minutes more until it browns evenly and gets a nutty fragrance.
  2. Add the vegetable broth to the pot of quinoa. Add ½ tsp of salt and bring the pot to a boil. Once it starts boiling, lower the heat to simmer, cover and cook until quinoa is tender. That will take about 15-20 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, in a large skillet over medium-hi heat add the olive oil and the onions. When the onions have softened a bit, add the carrots and cook for a few more minutes. Add the celery, peppers and peas. Sauté for a few minutes until veggies are cooked tender but still somewhat crisp.
  4. By now the quinoa will be cooked. Add the vegetables to the pot of quinoa and mix well. Stir in parsley. Serve immediately.

I love making quinoa because it’s a grain full of protein and nutrients and it’s very easy to make. This is the basic pilaf recipe I learned to make, but I have made this with many other combinations of veggies. Just like rice, it’s a great vehicle to use those little odds and ends you have in your fridge… go crazy and tell me what’s your favorite combination.

Dominican Mangú

4 May

As part of our “Puerto Rican” dinner in Paraguay we made mangú. Mangú is a Dominican Republic staple, actually eaten very typically for breakfast. It’s so hearty and filling that in my book is more aptly eaten as a main dish.

Mangú is made with green plantains… but if the plantains are starting to ripen and turning a bit sweet, it’s fine too. Maybe this is not the traditional Dominican way, but this is a “Puerto Rican” mangú and I say it tastes very delicious too. Usually you also create a topping/mix-in mixture to soften the green plantains with. We created a vegetable mixture made from onions, tomatoes, garlic, peppers and spinach. Onions are what’s most traditional but you can get creative and add what you have around in your fridge.

What’s best about mangús is the fried cheese. We didn’t have any, so we decided to make a vegan mangú. But if you’re not keeping a dairy-free or vegan diet, I highly recommend covering the top of the mangú with slices of fried cheese in addition to the vegetables. You will thank me after trying it.

My friend Tania is an expert on mangú and she can make it in one of a thousand varieties. So in honor of all the Dominicans in our yoga group, we give you Mangú.


4-5 green plantains, peeled and cut into 2” pieces
3 large yellow onions, 1 of them chopped and 2 sliced thinly
1 large green bell pepper, sliced thinly
1 large red bell pepper, sliced thinly
6 garlic cloves, 2 left whole and 4 chopped finely
3 large tomatoes, chopped
4 cups of fresh spinach leaves
Olive Oil
¼ cup of apple cider vinegar
Garlic and Herbs Seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. First we boil the plantains… so add the cut plantains to a pot of water. Do not add too much water because we’ll use this water to mash the plantains afterwards so try to add just enough water to barely cover the plantains. Add only 1 onion that you’ve chopped and 2 garlic cloves. Add some salt to the water, cover the pot and bring to a boil. After reaching a good rolling boil, reduce the heat and cook the plantains until they’re fork-tender. That’ll take about 20-30 minutes. To prevent the plantains in the bottom from getting scorched, stir the pot a few times during the boiling process.
  2. When the plantains are cooked well, just turn off the heat and leave them there covered until you’re ready to mash them.
  3. While the plantains are boiling away, you can make the vegetable mix-in/topping…
  4. In a large deep skillet, we will cook all the vegetables for the mangú. Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan over medium-high heat and add the onions slices from the 2 onions left, the strips of green and red bell pepper and the chopped garlic. Season the veggies with some salt and pepper and sauté until the onions and peppers start to soften.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and the fresh spinach. Mix in well to help the spinach wilt. The moisture in the tomatoes and spinach will start to create juices in the bottom of the pan. Those will be a tasty addition to our mangú later on. Season again with some additional salt, pepper and the garlic and herbs seasoning. Mix well and keep on cooking until the tomatoes and spinach have wilted enough and looked thoroughly cooked.

6.  To finish off, add the vinegar and mix well. This will add a nice tangy taste. Let the mixture sit until the plantains are fully cooked.

7.  Transfer the cooked plantains to a large roasting pan or baking dish… this is where you will serve it in. Transfer as much of the cooked onions and garlic as you can and most of the boiling water, but there shouldn’t be that much water anyways. Mash well with a potato masher. Make sure you have mashed every piece of plantain there is. If the mixture is dry, add as much of the boiling water as you want but you want to avoid it getting too soupy. It should have soft consistency.

8.  Add half of the vegetable mixture into the mashed plantains. Mix well using the potato masher or a large spoon. Feel free to add as much of the vegetable liquid as you want. After it’s all mixed well, add the remaining vegetable mixture over the mangú.

9.  Serve immediately. But if you can’t serve immediately, the mangú will keep warm for a while… Just cover the dish with a plastic wrap or aluminum foil and keep warm on the side until you’re ready to serve. Mangú makes a great potluck dish too.


If you’re adding the fried cheese slices… place them on top of the mangú after you’ve mixed in half of the veggies. Place them right over the mashed plantains and pour the remaining veggies over of the cheese slices. Delicious!!!!!

Roasted Onions and Tomatoes

27 Apr

I love to visit markets whenever I travel to new places. Hey, let’s get real… I like to visit markets EVERY TIME I travel, regardless if it’s my first time or I’ve been there many times over.

I was fascinated with the Coronel Oviedo market in Paraguay. It’s not that large in size, but they had a lot of things I’ve never seen before. My mom had been there twice before so she was showing me around, almost like a local. I was first fascinated by the amounts of plum tomatoes and mini onions. I can’t believe that I was so enthralled with them and I managed not to take a single picture of them… HOW COULD THAT BEEN!?!?!?!?

One Thursday we decided to cook for the whole yoga group. Thursdays is the day when all the initiated yoguis get together to listen to our Guru speak… so we decided it was the best day to thank them for all their hospitality by cooking them a “Puerto Rican” feast. Puerto Rican is in quotes because we threw in some Dominican and other non-denominational goodies in there for good measure.

I did not know what to cook and my mind gravitated towards those delicious-looking tomatoes and onions I had been seeing the whole week. The dish started somewhere else and finished here… hope you like it as much as our friends in Paraguay did.


10 little onions, cut in half – or you could use 5 medium ones and quarter them
10 medium tomatoes, quartered
1 large green bell peppers, cut into large squares
1 large red bell peppers, cut into large squares
4 Garlic Cloves, smashed
2 tbs Garlic and herb Seasonings
2 tbs Salt
½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped
½ bunch fresh oregano, chopped
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil to coat everything
Drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar
  1. In a baking dish or roasting pan, place all the ingredients as you’re cutting them up. Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and using your hands make sure all the ingredients are well coated with the oil and seasonings.

2.  Roast in a 450F oven for about 30 minutes. Check the oven through the window. I turn them a bit if I feel some parts are getting too crisp or burned.

3. The smell will let you know when it’s done. There is supposed to be some charred pieces of onion and tomato. It’s part of the character of the dish.


We served this as a side dish. And it was delicious as such. But in my opinion, after tasting this improvised dish originally… I would have served this over pasta with some crumbles of goat cheese and a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese. To me that would have made this vegetable combo into a real winner.

Try it your favorite way and tell me all about it!!!!

Mojito Criollo

19 Apr

When I’m on a hurry to eat but without any time to actually cook anything… I boil potatoes. I boil them by themselves or with any other root vegetable I have in my fridge – yautías, malangas, batatas (sweet potatoes), etc.

But potatoes by themselves are kinda boring, no?? But with a Mojito Criollo… not so much.

I like to eat my yuccas with a Cuban-style mojito. But in Puerto Rico, people prefer their mojitos with some tomato in it. And we’re not talking the alcoholic drink mojito… we’re talking something you use to “mojar” or dip your potatoes in. It’s a super versatile sauce. This is how I make it…



2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 green bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 yellow onion, sliced into strips
1 red onion, sliced into strips
2-3 garlic cloves, smashed
Olive oil – about 2 tbs
Salt to taste
Garlic & Herbs Seasoning
The juice of 2 limes
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-hi heat, pour the oil and add the onions, peppers and garlic cloves. Sautee for a few minutes until everything starts wilting a bit. Season with some salt to help that wilting process.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes. Season with additional salt and the garlic & herb seasoning. Mix well to combine. The moisture in the tomatoes will start to create the sauce. Cover the sauce pan and lower the heat to medium-low. Allow the mixture to cook and the flavors to meld together for about 10 minutes.
  3. When you feel the onions, pepper and tomatoes look cooked and “saucy”. Turn the heat off. Add the juice of the lime juice and mix well together. Let it rest for a few minutes before you serve over your favorite “vianda”.

This is the best way to eat potatoes or other boiled root vegetables when preparing for a fast or when coming out of one.

Red Bell Pepper Sauce

5 Jan

I make this sauce to prepare my Sweet Red Bell Pepper Dip… but you can also enjoy it alone as a sauce to enjoy with other dishes, like my Cordon Bleu Quesadillas


1 red bell pepper, cut in pieces
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar


  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender.  It might seem there’s little liquid to blend, but it will.  Believe me.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and as soon as it reaches a boil, reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes.
  3. Let it cool.


%d bloggers like this: