"While in Los Angeles filming the second season of Top Chef Just Desserts last year, I discovered Café Gratitude, a vegan café with a cult following," Gail Simmons says. "For me, its fresh, simple food was the perfect antidote to all that sugar. I became addicted to aptly named dishes like I Am Fortified—a bowl of whole grains with lots of cooked vegetables. When I got back to New York, I developed my own version."
1 cup long-grain brown rice
1 cup red quinoa
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 carrot, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps thinly sliced
1 (small) zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
1 head broccoli, stems peeled and sliced into coins, heads cut into small florets
1 bunch kale, large stems discarded
1/4 cup tahini, at room temperature
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons warm water
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 ripe avocado, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 cup mung bean sprouts
How to Make It
In a medium saucepan, cover the brown rice with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the rice is just tender, about 40 minutes. Drain and return the rice to the saucepan; keep covered.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the quinoa with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover the saucepan and simmer over low heat until the quinoa is tender and all of the water has been absorbed, 20 minutes.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the carrot and cook until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the shiitake, cover and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the zucchini, season with salt and cook, stirring a few times, until tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet. Add the broccoli, cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until deep green, 5 minutes. Add the kale, cover and cook, stirring a few times, until the broccoli and kale are just tender, 4 minutes. Season with salt. Stir in the other vegetables.
In a small bowl, whisk the tahini with the lemon juice, garlic, warm water and crushed red pepper. Season with salt.
Transfer the brown rice and quinoa to bowls. Top with the cooked vegetables, diced avocado and bean sprouts. Serve, passing the tahini sauce at the table.
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This recipe stands out to me, having used a very similar lemon juice, water, black pepper and tahini sauce/cream in another dish - a Mexicanish chickpea stew, where one mixed the sauce throughout the rest of the cooked ingredients - but I have not yet cooked this dish. However, just from having tried the tahini sauce before I would recommend giving this meal a go, even if you are not a big fan of raw tahini, as the cream/sauce does not leave one's mouth with that clammy, clawy after taste/feeling. Vary the amount of tahini cream to one's liking - at first I liked a little, but now I prefer a stronger taste, even though I do not still like tahini by itself.