Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Bento Box Snapshot: Turkey, White Bean, and Quinoa Chili Verde

Yesterday my evening class was canceled, so I was able to come home for dinner and my Bento box was lovingly put in the refrigerator. It just meant I had a lunch already prepared for today, which is great because I tend to get hungry between 10:30 a.m. and 1:10 p.m. (the same time as my three-hour CAR Integration class). And since I’m feeling significantly better than I did this time last week, I think I’ll be going to the gym for an hour afterward. Along with the chili I cut up some veggies and corn tortillas and packed my daily apple and spirulina-nut butter spread combo (as well as a can of wild salmon in case I'm still hungry).

Despite my being a week behind schoolwork, everything is still merging into something wonderful. For one, I can see the floor of my bedroom and my desk is almost completely cleared off. For another, my life after college is coming into focus. At this point, because some crucial grades from my time in Sweden have still not transferred, applying for Grad school may have to wait. I had intended on starting immediately after graduation, but I think the Cosmos is trying to tell me something, and it's something along the lines of taking things slow and to enjoy the ride. Maybe I’ll apply to the various research assistant positions at the USIP or work at a restaurant to learn the tools of the trade. Maybe I’ll join the ranks of some bangin’ NGO or create my own non-profit. If Grad school wasn’t meant to be in January, I’m sure August will be a different story. It’s all about adaptation and timing.

I do my best to stick to other people’s tasty recipes (heck, my own), but sometimes I either don’t have a particular ingredient or don't have enough of it, and I tend to add and subtract others as I go. Sometimes it doesn’t go as I expected it to, but usually the result is extremely delicious and post-worthy. The philosophies found in cooking can be relative to those in life. So if something just isn’t going to happen no matter how hard you try or want it to, find something that will. You can always go back to it when you’re ready.

This Bento Box Snapshot comes with a recipe. It must have been Monday (getting sick turns days into one consecutive day) when I decided to try my hand at white chili, but ended up adding more chili powder than I had planned to and turning it flamingo pink. So it wasn’t white chili by definition, but it was very different than the chili we usually make. It wasn’t exceptionally spicy though there was a nice kick from the jalapeño and green chile, and there was a delicate sweetness the cut-up apple provided to balance it. The tomatillos that I replaced the tomatoes with gave it a green undertone beneath its pinkish coloring, and the ground turkey made it light but still comforting to the tender stomach. It also was a great dish to use up all that leftover quinoa we had.

Turkey, White Bean, and Quinoa Chili Verde

 3 tbsp. Olive oil
1.25 lb Ground turkey
2 lb Tomatillos, coarsely chopped
24 oz Water
1 can (15 oz) Pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (4 oz) Fire roasted diced green chile
1 Jalapeño, seeded, veined, and coarsely chopped
1 Red onion, julienned and finely chopped
11 oz (2 c.) Cooked quinoa (you could also use rice, millet, pasta, etc.)
1 Sm. Granny Smith apple (about 4.5 oz cored), finely chopped
1 tbsp. Chili powder
1 tbsp. Crushed garlic
1/2 tsp. Sea salt
1/4 tsp. Cracked pepper

In a large mixing pot, heat the olive oil on medium-high and separated the ground turkey into chunks as it cooks.
Add in the remaining ingredients (or cook up some quinoa if you don’t have any on hand and put it into the pot when it’s done), and let it simmer on medium heat for thirty to forty-five minutes.
Serve in your favorite large drinking mug or soup bowl, and garnish with your choice of cheese, fresh salsa, herbs, and finely chopped sweet onion or shallot.

Serves 6 – 8.

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