Excuse me while I get a little nostalgic for a moment...
NYC. The City that Never Sleeps. The concrete jungle were dreams are made.
...okay, I think I am ready to continue.
As you may or may not already know, I lived in New York City for a year starting in January of 2011. I worked at the Lincoln Center Starbucks at 63rd & Broadway. Following my stint at the NYC Starbucks, I began working at YARD NYC, a creative agency that worked with fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands. I was the office coordinator and executive assistant. If you have ever seen The Devil Wears Prada, that gives a fairly accurate portrayal of what I went through at YARD. I loved it. I hated it.
Whether it was that I could not make it financially ($30,000 a year is rough to live on in Manhattan), or I just didn't fight hard enough, I ended up moving back to Chicago in December of 2011. Looking back I may have done things differently, but you live and you learn. I am back in Chicago and I am beginning to discover what I truly want to be doing with my life - writing. If it is about food, amazing! But what it really comes down to is that I want to spend my time writing. I want to write books, papers, essays, articles. Anything, everything.
The memories that I have of living in New York City will always be with me. I have heard that NYC is a city that you either love or you hate. I love it. More than you could ever know. However, it wasn't until I moved to New York that I really began seeing the reality of the real world. There were times I was scraping by on very little, desperately trying to make things work.
My NYC Starbucks was open from 5:00am to 12:00am. More often than not, especially towards the end, when money was running low, I worked the closing shift. Oh, the stories I have... At the end of each day, we had a lot of food left over that would be thrown away or donated. My store was the largest food store in our district, so we had to make sure that we had enough food to last the entire day. We never ran out. In fact, Starbucks ended up donating to the Feed Tommy Engstrom Foundation. Each night I would bring at least one large shopper full of Starbucks food home with me. Chicken Santa Fe Panini, Chicken Tarragon Sandwich, Protein Plate, Croissants, the list goes on. Starbucks fed me for quite some time.
My cousin Gretchen lived in New York City as well. We saw each other almost everyday. Some nights we would go out to restaurants like Dos Caminos, Café Condesa or Westville. Other nights we would stay in and make dinner. This was one of our favorites! I was recently talking to her about putting this recipe on the blog. I could not figure out what to call it. Quinoa with black beans and broccoli sounded too boring. "What about New York Style Quinoa?" Gretch asked. I don't know what makes it "New York Style" besides the fact that I made it all the time in New York, but it seems like a fitting name to me. So without further adieu...
New York Style Quinoa!
This recipe is SO easy! The first time that we made this, we were at Gretchen's apartment in the West Village. Neither of us had money that we wanted to spend. Well, we had already had two bottles of wine delivered to the apartment and we didn't have any more money to spend. So to the kitchen we went, on a scavenger hunt for food. This is what we found:
- a half empty jar of salsa.
- a tupperware container of quinoa
- a can of black beans
- and some broccoli
We decided to give it a whirl! And the result was delicious! Gretchen is a vegetarian. When I first moved to New York and had meals with her, all I wanted was meat - steak, chicken, fish... In the end, I ended up becoming more vegetarian. Even my roommate would say things from time to time about how I rarely ate meat anymore. I did not consciously make this decision, I guess it was just a product of my surroundings.
The moral of this all is that this recipe is very easy! And does not require a lot of time or effort.
I chose to use Frontera Chipotle Salsa with Roasted Tomatillo and Garlic, but feel free to substitute this for any salsa of your choosing!
Quinoa. When I was making this at home, both of my parents looked at me like I was crazy. Neither of them had ever heard of quinoa before. Neither of them could pronounce it either. Quinoa is still fairly unfamiliar to the vast majority of people. When in fact, it is one of the healthiest grains for you! "Quinoa is a true wonder food," says Daniel Fairbanks, Ph.D., a professor of plant and animal science at Brigham Young University. "It has about twice the protein of regular cereal grains, fewer carbohydrates, and even a dose of healthy fats. Plus, it's considered a "complete" protein, which means that, like meat, eggs, and dairy, it packs all of the essential amino acids your body needs to build muscle." If you have never tried it before - run to your local grocery store and buy it. It really will become something that you can incorporate in any meal.
How to prepare quinoa...
Be sure to wash the quinoa first. There is an outer coating that will become bitter and not very tasty when cooked. Washing the grains first will remove this coating.
- Bring 1 1/4 cups water to a boil.
- Add 1 cup rinsed quinoa to the boiling water.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for 12 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff.
Roasting the broccoli...
- Preheat oven to 425° F.
- Line a cooking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Lay out the florets of two broccoli stalks on the pan.
- Sprinkle with red pepper flakes.
- Sprinkle with olive oil.
- Put into the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the broccoli begins to brown.
New York Style Quinoa
1 cup quinoa
3/4 cup salsa
1 can black beans
florets of 2 stalks broccoli
red pepper flakes
Cook the quinoa. Roast the broccoli (with olive oil and red pepper flakes). Mix all ingredients together. Enjoy!