While we’re on island time, here it’s another Redux day! As I alluded to last week, the month of November was our time to focus on grains. Specifically, a “Whole New Grain” – an invitation to branch out side of the norm when recommending “whole wheat bread” or “oatmeal” to those who need more whole grains in their diet.
I have one favorite grain, and it goes by the name, Quinoa (keen-wah). It’s not new to me, or my recipe page, but it might be new to you.
There is a long list of things I had never tried before reading food blogs; some of them are welcome to stay out of my pantry, but quinoa not only tops that list, it’s also a staple & a favorite in this kitchen!
Reasons I love the grain, quinoa:
- It’s high in protein! As a ‘pescetarian’ (strongly dislike that term, but I do eat fish, so there it is), this is a huge bonus for me. Our meals are rarely focused around protein, so anywhere that it does sneak in? I’ll take it!
- I can cook it.Rice? Not so much. I almost always over or under estimate the amount of water needed. I feel like I should buy the long-cooking type, but have zero patience when I think “50 minutes to cook”.This simple grain takes 15-20 minutes, and the water ratio isn’t nearly as picky!
- It is versatile! Much like any other “grain” – rice, included, I suppose – it can be used for so many different things. It doesn’t have a lot of flavor on its own, so it welcomes any seasonings, sauces, food-pairings and creativity.
- One serving is packed with a nutrient punch:Iron, Fiber, Protein (~5g per 1/2 c cooked), Manganese, Magnesium, Copper & Phosphorus.Zero cholesterol, zero trans or saturated fat, and only 5mg (0% DV) of sodium.
- It bears the Gluten-Free seal of approval, all on its own! This is of no real significance to me, but it opens up the options for some.
HOW TO COOK QUINOA: Place one cup of dry quinoa* (uncooked) + 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover & let simmer for ~15 minutes. Fork n’ fluff, and let cool for 5 minutes.
Yes, it’s done in 20 minutes flat. Perfection!
*Most people recommend rinsing it first.
A quick search displays the fact that this grain & I have a tasty friendship.
For this Redux, I did try two new things – cheese, mixed with red quinoa.
There appears to be no real difference between red vs “regular”, though I find the red slightly crunchier.
The tomato paste phenomenon was going on in the fridge (i.e. you open a can, need 1 Tbsp and then have the rest sit around forever), and in the continued effort to clean it out before our departure, my sanity had to use it up! Hence, we have:
Ricotta & Asparagus Quinoa
Makes ~4 servings, Prep time: 5 minutes Total Cook Time: 25 minutes
1 cup Quinoa, dry
1 cup Ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Tomato paste (+/- 1 Tbsp)
Asparagus (I used one bunch), chopped into 1 in. pieces
1 tsp olive oil
Optional: tempeh (or other lean protein), shredded mozzarella, garlic
Seasonings: dried oregano, salt/pepper
In the meantime, heat the oven to 400* – lightly coat asparagus spears with oil & add minced garlic (optional). Bake for 15 minutes.
In a small saucepan (separate from the quinoa), combine ricotta and tomato paste a little bit at a time (I did ~1/2 – 1 Tbsp of paste per 1/4 cup of Ricotta). Stir slowly, and use low heat. The idea here is just to mix the two, cooking the paste down a little bit – be careful to avoid over-cooking and/or burning the cheese. Add a shake of salt & pepper, to taste.
Combine cooked quinoa, asparagus & ricotta mixture. Top with sautéed tempeh (or protein of choice) and a sprinkle of mozzarella!
This results in a creamy base, with crunch from the asparagus & tempeh. It’s a very easy meal to create and wow! Another thumbs-up approval from D, the tester, too.