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Friday, February 26, 2010

Quinoa Deliciousness!

Last night was a really great night of cooking for me. First time I've ever (completely strangely, I realize) roasted a chicken. (I'll save that for an upcoming post.) But to go with said delicious chicken, I decided to cook some Quinoa--one of my favorite things to eat, yet something I rarely ever cook.

For those who aren't in the "know" quinoa is all the rage. It is all over the news/magazines these days, with nutritionists and chefs alike touting it's "superfoodness." Originally a staple in the Incan diet, it is known as a super grain because it has the highest protein count of any grain. In addition, this protein is of an amazingly high quality--containing all the amino acids you need. It's incredibly versatile, and if I do say so myself, super easy and delish. There are people who make it for breakfast--I'll stick with my steel cut oats, thanks. But for anything that resembles a rice dish or salad, it's perfect. And what's not to love about finding a "carby grain" that actually encourages you to eat seconds! (Which I did last night, and then polished off for lunch today.)

So clearly, I enjoy the stuff. For some reason, I don't make it very often--I have no idea why, and I can tell you that it will be making a serious move into my favorite side dishes to prepare. Last night, I decided to just wing it, and the result was really fantastic. (I have been tooting my own horn about it all day today.) It had the perfect balance of tang, spice, and comforting healthy goodness.

Did I mention this one is SO EASY to make vegetarian? Just sub out vegetable stock for the chicken stock. Or, make this a full meal and add in some extra protein! It's really versatile, which I'm finding I'm drawn to (hence the bulgur risotto) with dishes that are this healthy. It's nice to know you can change it up with spices, herbs, flavor profiles--and make an entirely different meal that your husband doesn't mind eating more than once in a 10-day period.

Make it happen for yourselves! And if I were you, I'd make double this recipe. Trust me, it won't last.

Roasted Poblano and Swiss Chard Quinoa
1 TBSP olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
1 C quinoa
2 C chicken stock (or vegetable, if going vegetarian.)
2 poblano peppers, roasted, peeled and sliced (see below for info)
1 bunch rainbow chard (or other dark green) washed, dried, and chopped
Zest and juice of 1 orange, reserving a bit of zest for garnish
1/4 C goat cheese, crumbled

In a large saucepan, saute onion until softened, about 4 minutes.
Add garlic and cook another minute.
Add quinoa and stir, coating grain in oil and onion mixture
Add chicken stock, season with salt and pepper
Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Cover and cook until all the liquid is ALMOST absorbed, approximately 12 minutes. (Check out the box for information on how the quinoa will look when cooked--you will be able to visibly see the grain outline once it's done.)
When quinoa is cooked, add in greens and wilt down (you can recover for a minute or so) stirring to wilt.
When greens are wilting, add in peppers and stir.
Turn off heat, and add zest and juice of orange and goat cheese, and stir GENTLY so as not to totally melt the goat cheese.

**To roast poblanos, or any other peppers, you've got some options:
1-Place on a baking sheet and place directly under broiler, and turn every few minutes until all sides are charred.
2-Place over open (gas) flames on stove and turn while charring. Just be careful.

When peppers are charred, here is MY preferred method of getting the skins off. Lots of people have lots of ways, this is mine. Place peppers in a glass bowl while hot and cover TIGHTLY with plastic wrap. When peppers have cooled, the skins will come off (usually) really easily. Remove stem and seeds before slicing.

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