Thanksgiving 2014 – already weeks past – was different this year. Different from recent years with their hustle and bustle. I like a full house on holidays. P1060065 This year the house was quiet. To combat the silence, I opted to radically change the menu. No cornbread dressing, no pecan pie, no cheese grits. Instead I made quinoa timbales, roasted pumpkin, and sautéed tofu. But, I did make a turkey, just so you know. I didn’t lose every single marble rattling around in my head. The recipe for the tambales is a variation of the one I found in The Ultra-Metabolism Cookbook, by Mark Hyman, M.D. and it contains many tasteful – yet amazingly healthful- recipes. Even Norm ate the tambales, and he’s a card-carrying carnivore.

Quinoa Timbales

Yield: 12 tambales

1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 beaten egg
1 roasted red bell pepper
dried basil, parsley, oregano, pepper to taste
6 tablespoons breadcrumbs
roasted pumpkin seeds, as a garnish

Boil the quinoa in the vegetable broth for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff.

While the quinoa is boiling, roast the bell pepper. To do this, heat oven broiler to high. Place whole pepper on a baking sheet and broil 2-3 inches from heating element. Turn with tongs until all sides are charred. Remove from oven and let cool. Peel charred skin off of pepper, remove seeds, and chop pepper.

Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil for 3-5 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add to the quinoa. Mix in the egg, red bell pepper, and spices. P1060234 Grease ramekins or a muffin pan. Coat cups with breadcrumbs. Fill with quinoa mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, until firm and beginning to brown on the edges.

If using a muffin pan, turn by placing a cutting board over pan, then turn over. Tap the edges and tops of the cups with a knife handle to loosen the timbales. If you’re using ramekins, do this with a small plate for each timbale. P1060237 Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds as a garnish for a tasty alternative to traditional Southern dressing.