Meatless Monday: Late Autumn Grain Blend

Told you guys I had something for you this Monday! Remember my summer skillet? I thought it was pretty freckin good as is: Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend with summer vegetables like zucchini and tomatoes and just a touch of white wine and basil. (OK, it WAS pretty good!)

However, I came up with a winter version (err…apparently it’s still technically autumn…) that I think might top it!

Unfortunately, I made this at night so the pictures aren’t great. But it made a delicious and festive lunch and, just like many grains, is great warm or cold.

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If you haven’t had it before, this Harvest Grain Blend from TJ’s is a mix of Israeli couscous, orzo, mini garbanzo beans, and red quinoa. It’s a favorite of mine to pick up at Trader Joe’s. It has a fun combination of textures, and it’s a bit more interesting than your plain ol’ rice or quinoa.

To give it a autumnal spin, I added caramelized onions, toasted walnuts (pecans would be great too), dried cranberries, and pomegranate arils. Then I mixed in a rosemary vinaigrette and O-M-G. This was wonderful the night I made it, but it actually tasted even better the next day!

Like I said with my Summer Grain Blend, you don’t have to use the TJ’s blend…brown rice, quinoa, or traditional couscous would be great carb options for making this flavor combo. And I hope you do!

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Autumn Grain Blend
serves 4 as a side dish, or 3 as a “main course”

3/4 cup Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend (dry), or rice, quinoa, etc
1/4-1/3 cup walnuts
1/2 small onion
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup pomegranate arils

for vinaigrette
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 sprig rosemary
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp oil (I used walnut oil to stay in theme!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put walnuts on a baking sheet and place in oven, toasting the walnuts until they’re fragrant, about 6-8 minutes. When cooled, roughly chop the walnuts and set aside.

Meanwhile, start caramelizing your onions. Slice onion into long strips (mine were about 1.5 inches long). Heat oil in a pan on medium heat, and add onions. Stir to coat. Turn heat down to LOW and keep on cooking the onions on low heat, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent and well caramelized.

Once walnuts are done and onions have started, prepare your grain blend according to package instructions. While that’s cooking, prepare the vinaigrette: roughly chop rosemary as well as you can. Whisk together with vinegar and mustard. While whisking, slowly drizzle in as much oil as desired.

When everything is done, stir the ingredients into the grain blend one at a time: caramelized onions, followed by the dressing, then cranberries, walnuts, and pomegranate arils. Enjoy warm immediately, or chill in fridge to enjoy later.

Rainy Weekend in Photos

Thank you all for your kind words on Friday. I knew I could rely on the blogosphere for support 🙂

But this week is a new week, and the fact that the whole city was literally under water most of the weekend makes it a little easier to figuratively wash last week out of my memory 🙂 Plus, it’s an exciting day at work today…all the new Senators and Assemblymembers are getting sworn in, so the Capitol area is pretty hoppin’! T-Man and I are hoping to crash a Swearing In party or two later 😉

I have a Meatless Monday recipe that I really wanted to share today, but I wasn’t able to take photos of it last night so it will have to wait! I guess I was just too busy taking other miscellaneous pictures this weekend:

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This started with some retail therapy — I bought new running shoes on Friday during my lunch break. They are very similar to my old shoes (I can’t seem to like anything but Asics!), but thanks to Fleet Feet I got fitted to be sure I’m wearing the right kind of shoes for my busted up feet this time around!

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Check out the stairs to my apartment! Most of the Midtown area is severely hazardous these days…those leaves are slippery!! — Not gonna lie, we spent most of this weekend indoors playing board games.

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New obsession: pomegranate arils. I had rarely had them before ’cause I’d never bought one and attempted to de-seed it. Not too bad at all!

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Except Saturday afternoon! We stopped by Starbucks to get holiday lattes: Eggnog for T-Man, Peppermint pour moi. Then we saw The Sessions. ‘Tis the season for Oscar-worthy flicks! We both agreed that the movie was very good, and definite Oscar bait! (On my To-See list: Lincoln, Life of Pi, Argo, Wreck It Ralph, Silver Linings Playbook…)

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Saturday night, I invaded our friends’ kitchen to cook spaghetti squash & meatballs. Add in Guillotine, some adorably shy kittens, and these cookies (omg omg so good), and you’ve got yourself an awesome night!

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Egg + bell peppers + hot sauce + a slice of sourdough = My perfect breakfast!

Did you eat anything new or fun this weekend? No seriously, I love hearing about food…