While I enjoy exploring new dishes, I don’t always happily adopt new ingredients. Especially when everyone tells me I must try them. In fact, I am often feeling the opposite: if everyone tells you this is the new wonder food, it’s probably not that good. Such was my relationship with a few you-must-eat things, namely tofu, edamame, kale, etc… So when everyone started preaching quinoa, I shrugged it off and went on with my life hoping this, too, shall pass. I am not big on grains in the first place, even if they are the mother of all things perfect.
Things, however, got complicated when I saw it at the farmer’s market. It looked very pretty. Especially the black one. This was enough to pick my curiosity. Yes, sometimes I am that superficial.
First I tried a few dishes off the omniscient Internet, but they didn’t impress me that much. I liked the texture, but, much like tofu, quinoa didn’t have a lot of flavor of its own and tended just to absorb the flavors of whatever it was cooked with. Then I bumped into a pretty book dedicated exclusively to all things quinoa. After trying a few meals from the book, it suddenly hit me – they just shamelessly recited good ‘ole culinary classics and added a handful of quinoa to each of them, sometimes a few tablespoons. I then laughed hysterically and decided that quinoa is just not for me.
However, there were still three unfinished canisters of it sitting in my pantry, and something had to be done with them. I felt guilty. But like all normal people, I stuffed the guilt deep down and soon forgot all about it.
One unassuming afternoon, when absolutely nothing predicted gastronomical adventure, from the depths of my conscience the great quinoa guilt emerged. It was severely aggravated by rotisserie chicken leftovers sitting in the fridge. I knew then, it was time to deal with my feelings. So I roamed through the fridge and found a few vegetables that were begging to be killed and the adventure began.
Results were surprisingly tasty. They also turned out to be pretty. I got so excited that I actually tried to stage a few pictures – quinoa thing on a fork, quinoa thing on a fork in front of a stove, quinoa thing in a skillet, quinoa thing in a skilled with steam. In all the excitement I didn’t notice it was time for lunch.
So here is what and how below, for that particular batch, ingredients in order of appearance:
Red Quinoa With Vegetables
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 1/2 each red, yellow and orange peppers, chopped
- 1 small yellow squash chopped
- 1/2 cup celery chopped
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed or sliced.
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh time (optional)
- 3/4 cup whole wheat pearl couscous
- 3/4 cup red quinoa
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 precooked chicken breasts (I used rotisserie leftovers), cubed
- fresh herbs, salt, pepper to taste
Melt butter in a deep skillet on medium-high. Saute onions first for a few minutes, until fragrant and translucent.
Toss in the chopped vegetables and continue sauteing until they release their juices and enticing aroma penetrates every corner of your kitchen, about 7-8 minutes. If you have fresh thyme, add it at this point, whole. Remove the sprigs at the end of this cycle.
Add the stock, couscous and quinoa at this time, bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes or so, until couscous is cooked through. Check the stock level occasionally, and add a bit more if necessary. Stir once in a while to prevent sticking.
Add seasoning to taste and chicken at the end. Since it’s precooked, you don’t want it to turn into a mush.
The desired texture is slightly fluffy and bit sticky. It shouldn’t be too liquid or pasty. You can eat it warm or cold as salad.