My little neighborhood in Queens was buried under over two feet of snow yesterday- so I rummaged through the pantry to look for something to eat, as one does in such a situation. I like quinoa, but if it’s cooked with just water it can be pretty bland and I need some flavor in my life. Allow me show you how I like to cook it.
Sauteing your peppers and onion first to get them caramelized, as well as using tomatoes with jalapenos adds a lot of flavor. Feel free to use plain tomatoes if you don’t enjoy a little heat, but you should try it, it’s really quite mild and adds a little zing! On the flip side- if you want to intensify the bite add in a 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne to the onion mix when you add the garlic. Yum!
Directions- Makes approximately 5 cups
1 tsp olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
1 small bell pepper, seeded and diced (red, yellow or orange)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (14.5oz) Del Monte Petite Cut Tomato with Jalapeno
vegetable/chicken stock or water
1 cup quinoa
salt pepper to taste
3 cups fresh spinach, rinsed, trimmed and roughly chopped
In a medium sized saucepan add the olive oil, red pepper and onion. Cover and sweat the onions for two or three minutes until the onions are translucent. Uncover and saute until veggies start to get a little bit of color, approx. five minutes. If it starts to get too dark, too quickly, turn down the heat and splash in a little stock to de-glaze the pan.
While that cooks- drain the canned tomatoes, reserving the tomato liquid in a measuring jug. Top off the liquid to 1.5 cups with stock or water.
**Add the minced garlic to your pan and saute for a minute more to cook the garlic slightly.
Add the liquid and tomatoes to the pan, bring to a simmer. Add the quinoa, lower heat, cover and cook until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Turn off the heat. At this point you can add the optional spinach (I didn’t have any this weekend, and I’m not going to tromp through three foot snowdrifts to get some :-) so there aren’t any in my pictures, but I normally would add it) add the spinach to the pot and put the lid back on for two or three minutes minutes to wilt the spinach. Fluff with a fork.
Salt and pepper to taste, chop up a bit of cilantro to garnish if you’re into that sort of thing- which I am. This is one of my favorite sides with a nice grilled fish or chicken, and it’s hearty enough to have as a vegetarian main on it’s own or with the addition of some grilled tofu.
**note- the reason that I don’t add the garlic at the beginning is because I like to caramelize the onion and pepper to get the fullest flavor possible and minced garlic would burn and taste bitter well before any browning would happen.