"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Good Glop: Quinoa Pilaf with Lemon and Zucchini

by Julie on March 13, 2012

in Good Ideas Gone Bad, Kid Food, Snacks & Sides, Vegetarian

Here is a textbook example of what separates a good home cook from a bad home cook.

Tonight I regarded the packet of zucchini squash on my counter, eyeballed the lemon in my fruit bowl, remembered the cilantro in the ‘Fridge, and decided I should make an attempt to utilize the three. I Googled these ingredients, and went down the list of summer recipes until I found zucchini and lemon Quinoa pilaf with mint.

I’ve only just been hipped to quinoa. I liked it. And better yet, I had a whole package of it in the pantry.

The recipe couldn’t be easier.

Cook 1 cup of quinoa in two cups of liquid (water or I used chicken stock, because I had some of that leftover too), bring to a boil and cover until it’s done, about 12-15 minutes.

Grate two zucchinis. Chop 1/2 cup of parsley (I used cilantro) and 1/4 cup fresh mint (I used hardly any, because my mint plant isn’t yielding for some reason. The juice and zest of one lemon. Mix it all together. Add the cooked quinoa. Mix again. Salt and pepper expertly.

The result? Well, let’s just say it didn’t look this this: (the photo on the blog I found the recipe on)

quinoa pilaf with lemo and zucchini

Looks lovely, doesn't it?

Now, in the hands of, say, Chris, or Kelli, or Julia, or heck, any number of friends I know who have not only skills but talent, this could be quite the enchanting little dish. Fluffy and spry, full of zing and flavor.

In my hands, predictably, it came out pretty gloppy.

Sorta less lovely...

Maybe I didn’t cook the quinoa long enough? Maybe I should have somehow drained the zucchs? I know I didn’t use enough cilantro and mint, but that shouldn’t affect the texture. Also, the lemon made it too bright. Maybe less lemon?

Who the hell knows?

The frustrating thing here is that I’m cooking better now than I ever have before, mostly because I’m, well, cooking. Learning techniques. Seeing what works and what doesn’t. But at some point there’s a ability that comes into play, a talent…for assembling ingredients into something better. Some people have it, and some people don’t.

I don’t.

Sigh. What can you do?

But wait! A happy ending after all. Strangely enough both my kids professed enjoyment of this little side-dish-for-dinner thing.

“It’s good,” said the boy. “Sort of like a light, French dinner.” I don’t know where he gets the French part but I like the way he’s thinking.

The drama teen didn’t make any faces at all, just quietly ate her bowl while reading something on her phone. Kids today.

Lesson learned? Keep practicing…


Photo snatched  from Laura Bashar of Family Spice to make a point. It’s a lovely blog! Check it out!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Dorothy at Shockinglydelicious March 14, 2012 at 6:03 am

If your kids liked a lemony salady thingy, they also might like this! http://www.shockinglydelicious.com/lemony-white-bean-tuna-and-celery-salad-recipe/ And it is quick…always a plus.


Laura @ Family Spice March 22, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Would it make you feel better if I posted some of my gloppy messes?! Sounds like the quinoa was overcooked. I set a timer for exactly 12 minutes because the kids are always distracting me. Then I take the lid off the pot so it doesn’t steam any more. I also use Bob’s Red Mill Quinoa – the giant bag from costco lasts forever!


Julie March 22, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Now see, that’s news I can use! Thank you, Laura (and feel free to join my Bad Home Cooking group on Facebook and POST those soggy pictures for all to share!)


Crystal March 24, 2012 at 2:34 am

I am enjoying your fun blog because I can relate to all of this so well. I am also a middle aged mother and terrible cook who grew up in the 70s and 80s with a mother who was either into processed foods or McDonalds for dinner. I had the largest happy meal toy collection in the neighborhood, and failed home economics class in high school. I look at all those perfect, glossy cookbook photos and my heart wilts. My food will never look like that no matter how dedicated I am to sticking to the directions exactly, nor will it ever taste like anything other than something you’d expect a 20 year old college student to cook up in his dorm and quickly shovel down followed by swigs of beer. Okay, maybe the expectation that 20 year old college guys attempt something other than Ramen noodles is going too far, but I don’t have a comparison really for someone who cooks as bad as I do. The surprise to me is that you actually want to cook. I have to be shamefully honest and admit that I hate cooking. I hate it more than any other domestic chore, including cleaning toilets and dealing with teenagers. Cooking to me is an exercise in futility that does nothing to boost my maternal identity, my self esteem, or my standing with my children. What it does increase is my stress levels, and the amount of time that I feel I am wasting. I can only conclude that you must be a masochist, but an entertaining one at least.


Julie March 26, 2012 at 8:06 am

Hey Crystal! Check it out! You got your own blogpost! Join the Bad Home Cooking FB page and keep reading. Maybe we’ll both learn something…


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