Mondays are one of my late days - I get home from class at around 9:30 PM. I am usually quite hungry when I get home but tonight I was ready to eat my own leg. Needless to say, I needed to make something substantial, fast. 15 minutes later, I ended up with this:
Not bad at all - in fact, I'm going to use it to kick off a regular feature on this site - recipes. In order to qualify, a recipe must be:
1) Fast and/or easy
(Baked goods are another matter - I try to bake all my own desserts from scratch. They tend to get elaborate and, practicing what I preach, are not at all healthy)
Tonight, we're featuring quinoa, one of my staple foods. Quinoa is great because it has the look and feel of a standard "base" grain like rice or cous-cous, without actually being one. "Grains" or "cereal grains" come from a variety of grass species and tend to have a high glycemic index, meaning they produce a severe insulin response from your body. Over the long term, severe insulin responses can lead to metabolic disorders like diabetes. Quinoa, on the other hand, is not a cereal - it is a close relative of beets. It has a significantly lower GI, is a complete protein, and, in my opinion, has a better flavor than rice or pasta. Here, we're going to be mixing it up with some nuts, veggies, and cheese to make a nice savory dinner. Let's get to it:
Ingredients: Olive oil, 1 small onion, diced; 1 cup chopped broccoli; 1 cup peeled & chopped carrots; 1 cup chopped celery; a handful of almonds; 1/2 cup diced pieces of whole milk cheese (I used English Farmhouse Chedder from Trader Joes); 1/2 cup quinoa; 1 cup water.
1) Get a medium sized saucepan, pour quinoa and water into it and place it over high heat. Soon the water will begin to boil. Cover the saucepan and turn the heat down to a simmer. Let it simmer away for 15 minutes.
2) In the meantime, place a wok or a big sauté pan over medium/high heat, grease it with olive oil, add the onion and begin to sauté (mix the onion around in the pan until it is coated with oil, then let it sizzle away for a little bit, stirring it around in the pan frequently)
3) Once the onion begins to smell really good and some pieces begin to look translucent in the pan, go ahead and add the broccoli, carrots, and celery one at a time. Keep mixing the whole mess around in the pan at a constant rate - you don't want any part of it to burn.
4) Add the almonds to the mix and make sure they too get coated in oil. Add some spices if so desired. I used a generous helping of black pepper and a bit of sage.
5) After 15 minutes, remove the quinoa from the stove, take the top off the saucepan and mix the quinoa around. All the water should be absorbed and the quinoa should be pretty light and fluffy. Scoop it out onto a plate and mix the cheese in with it. The cheese should start to melt a little.
6) Remove the veggies/almonds from the heat and mix them in with the quinoa & cheese.
7) You're done - Serve and enjoy! This should comfortably serve two regular people (or one of me), so scale accordingly.
You could easily substitute any kind of protein in for the cheese, such as chicken, egg, beef etc. Play around with it and let me know what you think!