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Un-Granola

Guide for sophisticated vegetarian dining

Tag Archives: quinoa

I cook quinoa pretty often. Both a grain and a protein, quinoa is an easy choice for the unambitious vegetarian cook.

The folks at Andina in Portland start with quinoa, and end up with this:

Behold: quinoa salad. It’s a terrine of sorts with black and white quinoa and vegetables. The fattiness of the cotija cheese, olives, and avocado play off the chewiness of the quinoa. I would love to make this at home, but this dish takes real effort.

Quinoa comes from the Andes, so it makes sense that Andina serves such a cool dish with it in their bright, bustling space overlooking the Pearl District. Andina has a vegetarian menu and can accommodate vegans, though cheese is in many dishes.

Besides the quinoa, and a plate of perfectly grilled asparagus, I had a dish of roasted beets:


I’ve never had beets and mushrooms together before. With the  slightly spicy aji green sauce (and sesame oil), the combination was really good. The pickled vegetables brought some  acidity and brightness to the plate.

Most dishes come in small, medium, and large. It would be fun to sample a bunch of vegetarian dishes with a group of friends. (Your carnivorous friends, especially the fish-eating ones, will love this place too.)

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Watercourse has something for everyone: cheesy nachos for vegetarians who want something indulgent, salads and smoothies for  those detoxing, and a hearty pasta dish for those who wandered in, not knowing or caring that this is a vegetarian restaurant.

All this choice makes Watercourse a great place to take a big group.  Everyone from your vegan sister and your gluten-sensitive cousin to your meat-and-potatoes friend will find something to eat. (Though the meat of course will be made with seitan or tofu. Shhhh…)

The vibe here is hipster casual, with cheerful and opinionated service.

I was in desperate need of vegetables on my visit, so I started with a carrot, kale, apple, beet, celery, and fennel smoothie:

It was fresh and delicious. Fortified with all those vegetables, I split an order of samosas with my friend:

They looked more like empanadas than samosas, but the vegetable filling was very good. I wish they’d serve the chimichurri sauce on the side to keep the samosas from getting soggy. But overall, this was a fun start to the meal.

Next up for me, the macro plate:

This involved quinoa in miso sauce on one side, adzuki beans on the other, with pretty bok choy dividing the two. The beans were a tad bland, but I really liked the quinoa and the picked vegetable garnish. Loved the infusion of protein.

My friend had the Thai peanut stir fry:

The sauce had a pleasant savory/sweet flavor, and the noodles were firm, but the tofu (which my friend ordered blackened, at the recommendation of our server), overwhelmed the dish. This would be a more balanced dish without grilled tofu.

There’s just so much to try at Watercourse. And even your pickiest friend will find something to like here.

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If you love Mex but could live without the Tex, Hugo’s on Montrose is the place for you. Complex flavors + fresh ingredients + inventive dishes.

And they have a vegetarian menu. (As well as an impressive wine list and cool cocktails. This is a sophisticated spot.)

Hugo’s is in a 1925 building with a big dining room that feels like a cool old hacienda. I love the huge chandeliers and stamped tin ceiling:

Starters on the veg menu include butternut squash soup, potato tacos with tomatillo sauce, and avocado mango salad with blue cheese (intriguing combination).

The waiter assured me that the butternut squash soup was made with vegetable stock, so I ordered that and a glass of wine:

Really liked this creamy soup. The richness of the cream and butternut squash were set off by the light dusting of chili and the crunch of pumpkin seeds. Almost too pretty to eat. (Almost.)

It was tough to pick from the many delicious entree choices, including “deconstructed” vegetable enchiladas and chiles rellenos (large stuffed peppers) served with a pipian (pumpkin seed) sauce.

I ordered the vegetable plate to taste as much as I could:

Way more food than I can eat in one sitting, but it was fun to sample different dishes. My favorites were the creamy corn pudding (like a molten corn muffin) and the vegetable stuffed ancho pepper, made more delicious by the spicy habanero salsa my server brought me when I asked for something hot. If you get the vegetable plate, ask your server to bring out a couple of salsas – they’re terrific. My plate also had quinoa, lentil salad with spinach, roasted mushrooms, nopales (cactus), and asparagus.

Hugo’s is a great place to eat your veggies (or deconstructed enchiladas) in style.


 

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