And now, for a little something different ... for me, that is. Quinoa.
This month's challenge took us back to the very first cookbook that we used when beginning to participate in Dom's Random Recipe blogshare ... for me, it was Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home.
The random recipe turned out to be something that I have never tried ... Peruvian Quinoa Stew. I quaked. Quinoa is very new to me. I've had it but once in a cool summer salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, and a tangy vinaigrette. The dish reminded me of tabouleh. This recipe, however, is a warm and spicy winter stew. I made a fast meatloaf to have with it, but it could easily stand on its own with just a slab of crusty bread for soaking up the juices. I was so pleasantly surprised - it was delicious ... and healthy ... and low calorie ... and filling.
Hurray! Did I tell you I'm dieting? I'm dieting ... and filling is a good thing right now.
Quinoa. It's a grass-like plant that's native to South America. It's was staple of of the Andean indigenous cultures' diet. Today it's used in soups, stews, salads, breakfast porridge, and any dishes that resemble pilaf or couscous. In times before the Spanish conquest, quinoa was as important a foodstuff as potatoes and maize. It fell out of favor with the colonials, though, and was replaced for a long time by wheat. Unfortunate for the indigenous, as the quinoa is much more nutritious ... high in iron and a complete protein. Enough said? It's good for you. You should try it. Oh... and it's gluten-free if that's important to you.
I bought a white variety, but there are also red and black varieties of quinoa. It's important to soak/rinse the quinoa before cooking, as the tiny seeds have a soapy natural chemical coating that can be a bit bitter and have a laxative effect. THAT could be a real surprise ... so take heed and read the package on any quinoa that you purchase to see if it has been washed before packaging. Just sayin' ... don't want any nasty surprises.
On to the recipe for Peruvian Quinoa Stew, this is a really easy recipe. It can be prepared and on the table in just about 35 to 45 minutes. You just need a pile of vegetables and some spices to make it. So here you go! Give it a try ... it's high in protein because of the quinoa, low in calories because of all the vegetables, and extremely flavourful because of all the spices! What could be better?
Peruvian Quinoa Stew - printer friendly
Peruvian Quinoa Stew
a Moosewood Restaurant recipeIngredients:
½ c. quinoa
1 c. water
2 c. onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced on the diagonal into ¼ inch slice
1 small green pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
1 small zucchini, cut into small cubes
2 c. canned tomatoes in their juices or fresh tomatoes, chopped and juices reserved to add
1 c. vegetable or chicken broth
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
½ tsp. chili powder
Dash of cayenne pepper
2 tsp. fresh oregano or 1 tsp. dried
Salt to taste
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Making the Dish:
1. Place the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse well under cold water. Drain and add to 1 c. water in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer covered for about 15 minutes, until the quinoa has softened. Turn the heat off and set the pan aside to rest.
2. Place the olive oil in a deep fry pan with the onions and garlic. Bring the heat up under the pan and sauté until soft and shiny.
3. Add the carrots and celery and continue the sauté for another 5 minutes.
4. Add the green pepper and zucchini and get them hot, stirring frequently.
5. Add the spices and stir them in well, letting the heat release their essence.
6. Pour in the tomatoes, juices, and broth. Bring the whole to a slow bubble and turn the heat way down.
7. Let the stew simmer uncovered until the peppers and carrots have softened to a tender firm bite.
8. Stir in the quinoa, tossing everything to distribute. Salt to taste. Serve immediately with any garnishes you like.