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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Quinoa and Roasted Vegetables

This is how we've been eating lately. Just meager, but healthful, bowls of food at dinner to fill our stomachs for the night. I'm convinced more and more that unless you've been working in the fields all day, there is no need for a western -diet dinner centered around meat. For me, that is a feast or "holiday food" as a friend dubbed it and it is best eaten only once in a while. The most important thing for me is to find a way to pack more nutrients into my day and a nice bowl of whole grains with some roasted vegetables is an easy way to do it.

It may not look like much but this little bowl of food packs a power punch of good things for your booty body. Quinoa is an ancient grain that is a complete protein plus has many other nutrients. It is easy to work with and has a bland taste like rice or couscous and can work similarly to those in recipes. You can make it plain, like it says on the bag, or you can do a quinoa pilaf and flavor it in any way you like. Sometimes I like to mix the pilaf with beans to make it heartier but I also like it just seasoned and on its own as a side next to just about anything or as a vehicle to mix other things into, like veggies or other leftovers, even chicken.

Here I mixed it with roasted vegetables: asparagus, red and poblano peppers and some mushrooms. But you could roast just about anything you like. My go-to quinoa pilaf recipe comes from Veganomicon. I like it because many quinoa recipes start by cooking the quinoa and then flavoring it. This one starts with the flavorings first: sauteeing onions and garlic, then you add just a bit of tomato paste and some cumin and coriander for seasoning. This result is a quinoa that is flavorable enough to stand on its own. Black beans are a natural add-in here. Chickpeas will work too, in fact that's what's called for in the original recipe. I bet you could even do chili powder and kidney beans for a chili quinoa. Anyway, I'm gonna give you the pilaf recipe because it is really great and I think you should try it. Just take it as a formula and feel free to switch things up as you see fit. Fresh herbs can also be added just before serving so think about that too.

Chickpea-quinoa Pilaf
(serves 4-6 as a side)

2T olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped finely (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t ground cumin
1 T ground coriander (I don't add this much, I use about 1/2 t)
black pepper
1/2 t salt
1 T tomato paste
1 c quinoa
2 c cooked chickpeas (or other bean) or 1 15oz can beans, rinsed and drained (optional)
2 c veg broth*

In a small stockpot, over med. heat, saute the onion in oil for about 7 minutes, add garlic and saute for a couple minutes longer.

Add tomato paste, coriander, cumin, pepper and salt and saute for another minute

Add quinoa, and saute for 2 minutes, stirring to coat with oil

Add chickpeas (or not) and broth. Cover and bring to a boil, lower heat to very low and cook for about 18 minutes or until the quinoa has absorbed all the water (usually 20-21 minutes for me) Stir occasionally. This is not rice, so it is ok to peek and see how much water is left when you stir. When all the water is absorbed, fluff it into a wider shallow bowl to release the heat. It will dry out a little more as it cools

*I have used chicken broth before but it feels somewhat irreverent since the recipe comes from a vegan cookbook.


Sheri said...

I love quinoa! I've got Veganomicon checked out from the library right now but haven't made anything from it yet.

Toni said...

I like the mix and match section. Lots of good ideas there.

Amy said...


Toni said...

Oh and BTW, I HIGHLY DOUBT I used 2 tablespoons of oil to start it. I bet it was more 1, if that. Just a glop.

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Made by Lena