quinoa

  1. Ancient Grain: How to Enjoy Quinoa

    Ancient Grain: How to Enjoy Quinoa

    Quinoa In recent years, ancient grains have seen a surge in popularity. They started appearing in the health aisle of grocery stores and many health companies have  jumped on the bandwagon to satisfy the increasing need for healthier options. One of...

    Quinoa
    Quinoa

    In recent years, ancient grains have seen a surge in popularity. They started appearing in the health aisle of grocery stores and many health companies have  jumped on the bandwagon to satisfy the increasing need for healthier options. One of the more popular ancient grains is quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah). High in protein, iron and fiber, quinoa makes  a good replacement for traditional forms of carbohydrates such as white rice, potatoes and bread. Even brown rice plays second fiddle in the presence of quinoa.

    If you’re thinking of including this superfood (justly called due to its high nutrients), here is an easy way to get started. From one basic recipe, you can easily play up the flavors or increase the nutritional benefits by adding other nutrient-dense foods. The possibility is endless. Let’s begin at the beginning.

    Easy Quinoa Pilaf

    Ingredients:

    • 1 ½ cup of quinoa (rinsed with water and drained)
    • 2 tbs of unsalted butter
    • 1 ¾ cup of water (or broth)
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Directions:

    1. Toss quinoa in a medium saucepan over medium heat. You will hear quinoa popping. Stir frequently for about 5 minutes to allow quinoa to pop and release flavor.
    2. Add water and bring to a boil and then add butter.
    3. Lower heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, covered. Stir once or twice to prevent quinoa from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
    4. Turn off heat when quinoa is tender and all the liquid is absorbed.
    5. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes (covered) before fluffing it with a fork.

    You can enjoy this basic quinoa pilaf as it is with a side of protein and vegetables. Or you can increase its flavor by adding a variety of other ingredients.

    Quinoa with vegetables and tofu
    Quinoa with vegetables and tofu

    • Herbs

    Fresh herbs add zest and spunk. Take your favorite herbs and chop them fine. Examples include basil, thyme, marjoram, sage, parsley or green onion. When the quinoa is cooked, stir in the chopped herbs and let it sit for the required 10 minutes before serving.

    • Beans and Nuts

    The nutty flavor of quinoa combines well with a variety of beans and nuts. It will also augment the nutritional value of the dish as beans and nuts are nutrient dense and rich in fiber. Once the quinoa is cooked, toss in beans and nuts and add more salt and pepper if needed.

    • Spices

    You can easily transform a basic dish into an exotic dish by using the appropriate spices. Feel like Caribbean tonight? Consider nutmeg, all spice, paprika, ginger and cloves among others. No, you prefer Mediterranean? Reach for some oregano, basil, marjoram, cumin and garlic. Or kick it up with Indian spices such as curry and turmeric. You dream it, spices can execute it.

    • Vegetables and Fruits

    You can never go wrong with vegetables. Toss in parsley, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, lemon juice and mint and you’ve a version of quinoa tabouli. Add tomatoes, cilantro, onion, lime juice, jalapeno and you’ve Mexican-infused quinoa. Add bak choy, bean sprouts, cubes of tofu, some soy and sesame oil and you don’t have to call for Chinese takeout.

    Your basic quinoa pilaf can get as creative as your taste buds take you. For more information on how to enjoy quinoa, contact us. We also carry a wide selection of kitchenware and spices to make your culinary adventures a total blast in the kitchen.

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  2. Meatless Monday's Stuffed Peppers

    Meatless Monday's Stuffed Peppers

    The Orginal Stuffed Peppers The one and only Chef Elizabeth Weaver brought many memories back when she noted a recipe of Stuffed Peppers on our menu last week of “all things stuffed” for a Kids Camp.  The peppers I...

    The Orginal Stuffed Peppers
    The Orginal Stuffed Peppers

    The one and only Chef Elizabeth Weaver brought many memories back when she noted a recipe of Stuffed Peppers on our menu last week of “all things stuffed” for a Kids Camp.  The peppers I remember as a kid were stuffed with rice and chopped meat and finished with a tomato sauce.  I also remember that strips of bacon lined the bottom of the Dutch oven before these peppers were stacked in to simmer.  In this new life-style, I am taking some liberties with Elizabeth’s original recipe and creating one that is loaded with veggies over hers that features meat, cheese and bread crumbs. Chef Elizabeth made this original recipe healthier, and I am taking it a step further and making some added substitutions for my Meatless Monday’s campaign.

    The Tomatillo Sauce is a MUST!  I might even suggest doubling this recipe!

    The Updated Baked Bell Peppers
    The Updated Baked Bell Peppers

    Baked Bell Peppers – Shared by  Elizabeth Weaver – Elizabeth’s Edibles 

    Ingredients:

    Quinoa:

    • 1 cups low-sodium chicken broth  -- I would substitute low-sodium vegetable broth
    • 1/2 cup red quinoa – the coloring is key in a récipe like this, look for the red variety!

    Peppers:

    • Extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 pound lean ground turkey – See my suggested substitutions below – Yellow, Red and Orange Peppers, Onions, Mushrooms and roasted tomatoes
    • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1 clove minced garlic
    • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
    • 1/4 cup ginger ale or white wine as a substitute
    • 1 large red bell peppers
    • 1 large green bell peppers
    • 1 cups lightly packed stemmed and julienned kale leaves
    • 1/4 cup toasted pepitas
    • 3/4 cups finely ground panko breadcrumbs, I would omit these breadcrumbs
    • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, I would omit this cheese
    • Roasted Tomatillo Avocado Sauce, recipe follows, for garnish
    • Fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, for garnish

    Roasted tomatillo salsa
    Roasted tomatillo salsa

    Roasted Tomatillo Avocado Sauce:

    Ingredients:

    • 3 medium tomatillos (about 4 ounces), husked
    • Olive oil
    • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
    • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
    • 1/2 jalapeno, coarsely chopped and seeds removed
    • 1/2 sweet onion, like Vidallia, rough chopped
    • Juice of 1 lime
    • 1 handful fresh cilantro leaves

    Directions

    Peppers:

    Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

    For the quinoa:

    1. Over medium-high heat, bring the broth to a boil in a medium saucepan.
    2. As the broth is coming to boil, add the quinoa, then stir and cover.
    3. Reduce the heat to a simmer and steam the quinoa until the grains pop, about 10 minutes.
    4. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

    For the peppers:

    1. Set a large saute pan over medium-high heat.
    2. Add a drizzle of olive oil and add the turkey, crushed red pepper flakes and garlic.
    3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
    4. Cook until well browned, 5 to 7 minutes, while stirring with a wooden spoon and breaking up the pieces.
    5. Deglaze with the wine.
    6. While the turkey is browning, rinse the peppers and pat dry.
    7. With the pepper lying down on its side, cut off the top and remove the seeds and membrane.
    8. Repeat for the remaining peppers. Leave the stem on the top for presentation. Set aside.

    Meatless Monday Substitutions:

    1. Set a large saute pan over medium-high heat.
    2. Add a drizzle of olive oil and add the chopped vegetables in yellow, orange and red peppers, mushrooms, onions, crushed red pepper flakes and garlic.
    3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
    4. Cook until well browned, 5 to 7 minutes, after the peppers, onions, mushrooms are sautéed, add in a can of fire roasted tomatoes
    5. Deglaze with the wine.
    6. While the vegetables are browning, rinse the peppers and pat dry.
    7. With the pepper lying down on its side, cut off the top and remove the seeds and membrane.
    8. Repeat for the remaining peppers. Leave the stem on the top for presentation. Set aside.

    Once the turkey is browned ( or the veggies) , shut off the heat and fold in the quinoa, kale and pepitas. Mix to incorporate all ingredients thoroughly. Check for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper if required.

    In a small mixing bowl, combine the panko and Parmesan. Add a drizzle of olive oil to lightly moisten and season with salt and pepper. Set the peppers on a roasting tray cut-side up and stuff each with about 1/3 cup of filling. Top each pepper half with about 2 tablespoons of panko-Parmesan topping. Cover loosely with foil, place in the center of the oven and bake for 15 minutes. When the peppers are tender and cooked through, remove the foil and turn on the broiler. Cook under the broiler to brown the panko breadcrumbs and crisp up, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the peppers from the oven and allow to rest before serving.

    Roasted Tomatillo Avocado Sauce:

    Directions:

    1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. Place the tomatillos onto a baking sheet. Toss the tomatillos with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and place into the oven. Roast until nicely charred, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
    3. Combine the tomatillos, 1/4 cup water,( I suggest using the pan juices from roasting the tomatillos over water)  cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, avocado, garlic, jalapenos, onions, lime juice and cilantro in a blender and puree until completely smooth. Place in the refrigerator and allow the sauce to settle before serving, so it is smooth.

    Stuffed Peppers – Healthier version on the Meatless Monday’s  Campaign

    Stuffed peppers
    Stuffed peppers

     

    To present these stuffed peppers, place  about 1/4 cup of Roasted Tomatillo Avocado Sauce on a plate and place the roasted, stuffed pepper halves in the middle of sauce. Garnish with parsley sprigs and / or Cilantro.

    *** I might suggest doubling the batch of Tomatillo Salsa as it is an excellent complement to these stuffed peppers.

    Enjoy!

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  3. Meatless Monday's Go West for Flavors

    Meatless Monday's  Go West for Flavors

    This weekend turned rainy and the grey day begged for a pot of soup.  I was pleased that my pantry was stocked with all the ingredients for this very flavorful soup that is even better the next day.  So,...

    This weekend turned rainy and the grey day begged for a pot of soup.  I was pleased that my pantry was stocked with all the ingredients for this very flavorful soup that is even better the next day.  So, I turned a rainy Sunday into a cooking day.  I will pair this hearty soup with a big and bold green salad.  I will not opt for a bread or cornbread, but these would be excellent choices as added sides.

    Southwest Themed Soup
    Southwest Themed Soup

    Southwest Quinoa Soup – adapted from Chris McLaws – Good Earth Catering in Park City, Utah

    Ingredients:

    • 4 – 6 carrots, chopped
    • 1 -2 medium onions, chopped
    • 6 – 8 cloves of garlic
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 4 – 5 cups water or homemade stock.   I suggest flavoring water with Bouillon if you are not making homemade stock.  I prefer Better than Bouillon’s All Natural Reduced Sodium Vegetable Base.  I have re-posted a quick version of homemade vegetable stock.
    • 1 ½ cup uncooked Quinoa
    • 1 ½ - 2 teaspoons natural taco seasoning.  I opted for a  low-sodium variety to cut back on the salt.
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric
    • 1 teaspoon cumin
    • 3 bay leaves
    • 1 - 10 ounce can green or red enchilada sauce. I prefer the red sauce over the green.
    • 1  -  ounces can diced green chilies
    • 1 – 1 ½ cups of frozen corn.  If you can find roasted frozen corn, use this variety for another layer of flavor.
    • 1  - 15 ounce can black beans
    • 1  - 15 ounce can kidney beans ( I have substituted black eyed peas here too!)
    • 1 -  15 ounce can of tomatoes – I prefer Hunt’s Fire Roasted variety if you can find this option.  Another place to layer flavors.

    Directions:

    1. Sauté the onions and carrots in olive oil for about 5 minutes.
    2. Add in the garlic and sauté another 3 -4 minutes.
    3. In a large stock-pot, add in stock, quinoa, taco seasoning, turmeric, cumin, bay leaves, enchilada sauce, green chilies, frozen corn, black and kidney beans, and tomatoes.
    4. Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
    5. Cook about 20 – 25 minutes until quinoa is cooked in this liquid.
    6. Adjust seasonings at the end.

    Garnish Ideas:

    Dress with chopped cilantro, avocado, scallion and/or Greek yogurt.  Serve with a green tossed salad and a slice of whole grain bread or cornbread.

    Homemade Vegetable Stock – re-posted

    Ingredients:

    Full gallon freezer bag loaded with vegetable discards.  My bag this week included:  ribs of kale, carrot and zucchini ends after a shredding project, onion skins and bruised onion skins, very small garlic cloves, celery leaves, asparagus tips and mushroom stems.

    Directions:

    1. Cover these frozen vegetable discards with 5 cups of water.
    2. Season this with salt and pepper to your taste.
    3. Bring to a simmer on the stove in a Dutch oven for about 35 minutes.
    4. Strain off the golden liquid and use as your homemade stock.
    5. This will yield about 4 cups of vegetable stock.

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  4. Meatless Monday’s – Quinoa as the Superstar and Superfood

    Meatless Monday’s – Quinoa as the Superstar and Superfood

    Quinoa A question that I always get when I note that I rarely eat meat, ?where and how do you get your protein? in your diet without meat?  I get my proteins from many sources and one that I have...

    Quinoa
    Quinoa
    A question that I always get when I note that I rarely eat meat, ?where and how do you get your protein? in your diet without meat?  I get my proteins from many sources and one that I have come to love is Quinoa.     Quinoa has been called a ?superfood? with a high protein content, but still not as high as most beans and legumes. Nutritional evaluations of quinoa indicate that it is a source of complete protein as it is an excellent source of dietary fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and calcium.  If you have not yet met quinoa. I would like to host an introduction.
    Variety of  Quinoa in Red, White and Black
    Variety of Quinoa in Red, White and Black
      I use the colored varieties of quinoa depending on the dish I am creating.  I tend to have the largest supply of the white quinoa on hand at any time in my kitchen.   When I cook my quinoa, I try to infuse flavors so often begin with homemade stock over water as the liquid. I love this bed of grains for my roasted vegetables or tomatoes as I noted a few weeks ago. A very unusual preparation of Quinoa is a Skillet dish that I have come to love.  I especially like the versatility of this dish as it is great warm and it takes on a very different flavor and is also excellent served cold the next day!  One of my favorite meals starts with either Black Bean Soup, or my famous Black Bean Cakes. This Skillet treat is a great side to serve.
    Skillet Quinoa with Corn and Jalapeño -- Adapted from Noble Pig recipe
    Ingredients:
    • 1 cup dry quinoa (cooked in vegetable stock according to package directions)
    • 1 ?  1½  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 8 ounces of Frozen Roasted Corn  (Sold as 16 oz, so you will need about ½ bag) Trader Joe?s has an excellent variety!
    • 1 jalapeño pepper seeded, deveined and chopped
    • 3 - 4 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 1 large white onion, chopped
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
    • ½ teaspoon paprika
    • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt ? If your broth is not low sodium, wait on adding salt until the end.
    • zest and juice of one lime
    • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
    Directions:
    1. Prepare 1 cup of dry quinoa according to package directions. You will want a very dry Quinoa for this dish.  Use vegetable stock to infuse more flavor. ( Homemade or Better than Bouillon Vegetable base Reduced sodium suggested.) Set aside prepared quinoa.
    2. In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, jalapeno and onion in olive oil until softened; about 5 minutes.
    3. Then add garlic, sauté for an additional 5 minutes.  Add cumin, smoked paprika and paprika and salt, stirring until fully incorporated.
    4. Then add in the frozen grilled corn.
    5. Add prepared quinoa and let it brown, stirring only occasionally over a 15 minute period.  Do not skimp on this step!  You do want to dry-out this seed and add a new level of crunch to this dish.
    6. Turn off heat and stir in lime zest and juice. Let quinoa sit in the hot pan (do not stir) while you continue to make dinner, about 10 minutes more. It will continue to crisp and you will have bits of crunchy quinoa which is a nice textural change.
    Garnish with chopped cilantro. Excellent warm or cold! What is your favorite preparation of Quinoa?
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  5. Tomatoes in March

    Tomatoes in March

    Caprese Salad The red Roma tomatoes on display in March at the grocery stopped me in my tracks.  They looked almost summer-like.  I could not resist and added four trays of tomatoes, some yellow, orange and red peppers, garlic and onions...

    Caprese Salad
    Caprese Salad

    The red Roma tomatoes on display in March at the grocery stopped me in my tracks.  They looked almost summer-like.  I could not resist and added four trays of tomatoes, some yellow, orange and red peppers, garlic and onions to my basket along with some fresh basil.   I knew that these would be roasted this evening and served over quinoa.

    I have come to love roasting tomatoes to create a rustic sauce or a fabulous Tomato soup.  But I must admit, one my favorite ways to serve these treats are as an appetizer with some fresh Mozzarella cheese and fresh basil, my version of a Stepped-Up Caprese Salad.

    But, my very favorite, remains roasting tomatoes along with peppers, onions and garlic and serving this over a bed of quinoa.

    Roasted Tomato Salad
    Roasted Tomato Salad

    Roasted Tomatoes

    Ingredients:

    • About 12 – 15 Plum Tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
    • ½ cup olive oil
    • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 2 teaspoons of Italian Seasoning, dried
    • 2 teaspoons of sugar
    • 1 teaspoon of salt
    • 1 teaspoon of pepper

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
    2. Line the Sheet Pan with Parchment Paper.  Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, in a single layer on the sheet pan.  I can usually get between 12 – 15 Plum Tomatoes on a sheet pan to roast.  Drizzle the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, seasonings and sugar over the tomatoes.  Roast these tomatoes for about 90-120 minutes, you will notice that they will caramelize and begin to brown around the edges.

    Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
    Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

    Roasted Onions, Garlic and Peppers

    Ingredients:

    • 3 – 4 onions, any combination of yellow, sweet and red can work
    • 2 heads of garlic
    • 1 red, 1 yellow and 1 orange pepper
    • 1/3 cup of olive oil
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon pepper

    Directions:

    1. On a separate sheet tray, this time lined with foil or parchment paper, add your large onion dices, two heads of garlic – root ends removed, and cut sides up, along with the yellow, red and orange peppers roughly chopped.
    2. Bake this along with the tomatoes, but on a separate sheet pan.

    The garlic will be done roasting first, most likely this will be caramelized in about 45 – 55 minutes.  Do not allow this to burn.

    The onions and peppers should be roasted in about 75 minutes.

    These vegetables can also be roasted at 275 degrees along with the tomatoes.

    Quinoa

    About an hour into the roasting process, make a batch of quinoa.  I would suggest 4 cups of vegetable stock to 2 cups of quinoa.

    As you boil the stock, add in the roasted garlic, that you have mashed.  Then, add in the quinoa and cook according to directions.  This will be the base for this salad. Top with the roasted vegetables.

    Pour all pan juices over these roasted veggies.  Serve immediately or at room temperature.  This is also excellent chilled and served cold.

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