Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Potluck Quinoa

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to a potluck at a neighbor's house, but there were a few dietary restrictions.  Our host told us not to worry about it, but if we brought something which contained an item from their dietary restrictions and they did not eat it, that would be why.  I had some left-over veggies with spinach dip and watermelon from my son's birthday party, but decided I should bring something else too.  The night before the potluck, I threw some black beans in my crockpot to soak and as an inspiration for a dish to bring.  So, let's see, something that is gluten free, dairy free, meat free and does not contain any sugar...  I didn't have a lot of time to look up recipes, but I glanced through a vegetarian cookbook to see what kind of quinoa recipes it had.  Hmm, not many.  I decided to create a Mexican Quinoa dish and it turned out pretty good.  Another neighbor commented that he liked it and then told me that he normally does not like quinoa.  So, if you ever need to go to a potluck and bring a meat free, dairy free, gluten free, and sugar free dish - try this one out.  Or, make it as a side dish to any mexican meal you have or it could even be a main dish with a side salad.

I'm hoping that most of you reading this have already heard of Quinoa, as it seems to be gaining popularity these days.  But in case you have not, I'll tell you a little bit more about it and why I love it so much!  Quinoa is a truly versatile grain that can easily turn something into a main dish.  It has 14g of protein per 3.5 oz serving (uncooked) and 7g of fiber and is nearly a complete protein in and of itself.  Knowing this little grain was so good for me I tried several times to make dishes with it and did not care for it.  Then, I finally discovered the secret - broth, cook the grain in BROTH!  It has much more flavor this way and then add whatever you want to it or serve another dish over it.  Recently I made a pilaf out of it by adding a cinnamon stick to the broth while the quinoa was cooking and then some nuts and dried fruit when it was finished.  If you have never made quinoa before, it should open up a bit and look kind of like a curlicue and should have a touch of crunch to it, as if it were bursting in your mouth.

Mexican Quinoa

3/4 cup Quinoa
1 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup dry black beans (soaked overnight and cooked)
1/4 cup canned diced tomatoes in sauce (or fresh)
1/2 tsp cumin
1 clove garlic, crushed
handful of chopped cilantro
sea salt to taste
drizzle of olive oil
splash of red wine vinegar

Bring stock to a boil and add quinoa, cook for 12 - 15 minutes until tender, but retains a bit of crunch.  Stir in frozen corn during the last few minutes of cooking then add remaining ingredients cooked black beans, diced tomatoes, cumin, garlic and cilantro.  Salt the quinoa to taste, add a splash of red wine vinegar then drizzle with olive oil.  Serve warm or cold.

For a printable version of the recipe above, click on the title of the recipe.

Have you used quinoa?  What is your favorite way to prepare it?

Do you have any left-over holiday ham in the freezer?  I hope you didn't throw away the bone.  Next week I'll share some recipe ideas to use up every last bit of your holiday ham - including my Caramelized Onion, Spinach and Ham Breakfast Strata.  If your ham is all gone, then hang on to these recipes for the next time you have ham left-overs or if you happened to buy an extra one for the freezer when they were on sale - get ready for some hamsational meals!

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