the day I purged the fridge: mixed bean and quinoa hodgepodge

I'll throw a disclaimer out right away: I'm not a chef. I'm not a food photographer. This is not turning into a food blog. What this is is a yummy recipe-ish concoction that I threw together one day with stuff left over in the fridge, and it has become a staple in our house. It's animal-friendly (vegan) in the way that it doesn't use them, and it's a complete meal. Plus, it's flexible and easy, so if you're a not-chef, like me, you can swing it. Here goes...

mixedbeanmixed bean and quinoa hodgepodge

serves any number of people over any number of days, depending on how much you want to eat

stuff you need (all approximate)

• 1 cup quinoa

• 2 cups vegetable broth

• 1 lb organic green beans

• 1 lb/1 can dark kidney beans

• 1 lb/1 can garbanzo beans

• 1/2 pound cooked lentils

• 3/4 cup Italian-ish dressing of your choice (You can make your own, or I like Trader Joe's or Annie's Naturals Tuscan Italian varieties.)

what you do with that stuff

Cook the quinoa in the vegetable broth (you can also use water, but vegetable broth will provide more flavor, plus, it's easy to make), covered, until the liquid is absorbed (15-20 minutes), then cool.

Discard the ends of the green beans and snap each bean into thirds. Steam slightly in a steamer basket or blanch (you still want them to be crunchy), then cool.

Cook the beans, unless you're using cans (I usually use organic canned beans for convenience). Feel free to substitute any type of bean you like.

Cook the lentils, if necessary (I LOVE the packaged lentils at Trader Joe' can find them in the veggie section. Much easier.)

Once everything has cooled, stir all ingredients together in large mixing bowl.

Feel free to play with the proportions to suit your dietary, taste, or texture preferences.  It keeps nicely in the fridge, so I make this big batch so I can have something to easily grab for lunches over several days. It's quite filling! The rest of my family loves this as a side dish. I sometimes eat it as-is, but I often use it as my base and add different combinations of things I have around. Some of my favorite additions:

• avocado and beets

• pecans and raisins

• almonds and apples

• over a bed of your favorite cooked greens

• over your favorite lettuce

• with a side of roasted fennel (another of my staples)

I probably would have fallen of the vegan wagon a lot more often had I not been able to reach for this nutritionally-balanced quick meal, so I'm sure to have some on hand about every-other week so that I can just grab a scoop when I'm ravenous.