Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Sorry for my lack of posting the past few days! We've been a wee bit busy. We had a great visit with Andy's Mom, and I think Zander is missing her already. This past weekend was a whirlwind, but in the kitchen there is a deifinite standout. Quinoa. Yesterday I played around with this magic grain, and I have to say, I am impressed with its possibilities.

I had both Andy's Mom and My Mom as lunch guests yesterday, so I had to come up something a little special. I also had to come up with something that would fit in with the GI diet. The challenge was to come up with a dish that was substantial, without being heavy in the carb department. So I turned to a comfort food- soup. I decided to do a tomato basil type soup, but again, I had the issue of being substantial. I could not serve my mom a sandwich on the side, the soup had to be all-inclusive. I decided on brown rice, and then saw the box of quinoa next to it. I have only used quinoa once before, and decided this was a good opportunity for a different application. So here it is, and this is also my contribution to The Virtual Cooking Club at The Savory Notebook.

Indian Style Soup with Quinoa and Roasted Red Pepper Raita

cooking spray
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 Tablespoons red curry paste
1 bay leaf
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes in juice, tomatoes crushed with hands
4 cups vegetable stock
2 parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup baby carrots thinly sliced
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup fresh basil, cut into a chiffonade

1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions

1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 red bell pepper, roasted and finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded cucumber and accumulated juices
salt and pepper to taste
Combine raita ingredients in a bowl at least one hour before serving.

Heat a nonstick pot over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Add diced onions, carrots, and celery, and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add curry paste and cook for 2 more minutes. Add bay leaf, tomatoes, veggie stock and bring to a simmer. Next, add the parsnips, baby carrots, peas, mushrooms, and dried basil. Cook for about 20 mintues, or until the parsnips and baby carrots are cooked through. Add baby spinach and fresh basil.

Put a large scoop of quinoa into the bottom of a soup bowl (I used an ice cream scoop). Ladle the hot soup over the quinoa, and top with a dollop of raita. Serve immediately.

After making this soup, which was a hit, I needed to do something with the leftover quinoa. I just had to find another use for this gem. So I thought about Alysha's breakfast challenge at The Savory Notebook. I decided I wanted to find a muffin to use the quinoa, so I did a few searches, and found nothing. Plenty of recipes that call for quinoa flour, or uncooked quinoa, but not with the cooked stuff I had. Then I found a recipe for Quinoa pudding, it struck me as something similar to rice and bread puddings, and I thought I could tweak it enough to make it breakfasty, and this is what I came up with, albeit a few days late:

Baked Quinoa
Serving Size : 8
1 cup quinoa (6 oz) -- picked over
6 cups water
3 large eggs
1 cup lowfat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup slivered almonds or chopped walnuts -- or a mixture
1/4 cup dried currants or raisins
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Wash quinoa in several changes of cold water in a bowl, rubbing grains between your palms, then drain well. Bring quinoa and 6 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until grains are translucent, 13 to 15 minutes. Drain well in a sieve.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, brown sugar, and salt in a large bowl until just combined. Stir in quinoa, bread crumbs, nuts, and currants and pour into a buttered 9-inch square metal baking pan.
Stir together cinnamon and remaining tablespoon sugar and sprinkle over top of pudding. Bake in middle of oven until a knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 100 Calories; 3g Fat (24.0% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 74mg Cholesterol; 82mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 1/2 Fat; 1 Other Carbohydrates.

While it may not exactly be portable, the baked quinoa is wonderful. It reminds me of baked oatmeal, only not so firm, and the flavor is really good. We happened to eat it for dessert last night with scoops of ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce. However, it woul dhave been equally good spooned into a bowl with milk drizzled over it. The baked quinoa does keep in the fridge, so you could bake it and eat it the rest of the weel for breakfast. Very good. And I am very happy with the whole quinoa expereience.

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