Vegetarian fare on a college budget

By Colin Shively

Being a vegetarian is difficult enough, but being a poor vegetarian college student is even worse. It can be rather difficult, sometimes to get even the simplest meal.

A good survival food source for vegetarians—or anyone for that matter—is a rather healthy combination of rice and beans. True, there is the old saying, “beans, beans the magical fruit. The more you eat, the more …” You get the idea. However, beans are rich in essential vitamins the body requires on a daily basis.

For a healthier twist on the dish, take out the rice and replace it with quinoa, a hearty South

American plant that is rich in protein and vitamins and can be used in numerous dishes. If you used dried beans, you’ll have to prepare them earlier in the day.

Usually beans take about six hours in cold water to become ready to cook, but you can easily get cheap, ready-to-cook, canned beans at your local market.

To start, immerse the beans in a pot of water, leaving about two inches above

them. Cook on low for an hour and a half, or until the beans are easily punctured by a fork. To add some flavor, add two veggie bouillon cubes to the beans while cooking.

For non-vegetarians, this is be the ideal time to put chicken stock or a hambone in to add a nice, rich meaty flavor to the bean mixture.

After an hour and a half, the beans should be soft enough. Let the beans sit for a while longer to allow extra absorption of water.

To cook the quinoa, add two cups of water for every one cup of quinoa to a soup pot and bring to a boil. Then reduce and simmer for 15 minutes. If desired, this would also be a good time to add another bouillon cube for flavor.

While the quinoa cooks, begin your pesto mix. This recipe uses a pre-made pesto mix found in any spice aisle. Add two tablespoons of water and one and a half tablespoons of olive oil and heat in a microwave for about one minute to reconstitute the pesto mix.

After 15 minutes of simmering, remove the quinoa from the burner and fluff with a fork. Drain the excess water from the beans and incorporate with the quinoa. Add hot pesto and the dish is ready to serve.

Time-wise, this dish might take a while, depending on the beans you use, but it’s a filling meal.

Quinoa and beans give your body fiber, carbohydrates, protein and energy in one dish. Plus, you are going to have a lot of leftovers, so when the time calls for it, you can warm it right back up!