Friday, September 3, 2010

Southwestern Quinoa

I definitely grew up in a household where dinner consisted of protein, starch & veggie most nights. As I'm doing my meal planning, my mind often goes back to this concept even when I'm trying to use up all our veggies from Plow to Porch. A big problem with this style of meal planning is that I have a tendency to inhale the starch part, whether it be a pasta, rice, potato or couscous side dish. To combat this problem, I have started experimenting a little bit with quinoa, which is similar in texture to couscous, but much more filling, has more protein and fiber, and is slightly less inhalable while still being quite tasty. I got much inspiration for this recipe from Mary Ellen's Chili Cumin Seasoned Quinoa with Jalapenos, Corn & Red Pepper. Mary Ellen recently had one of her other quinoa recipes featured in Cooking Light Magazine, so I knew she knows her way around a quinoa recipe! This was so fantastic and the fish I served with it worked with the quinoa very nicely (I had picked up a tilapia in lemon sauce at Whole Foods). I ended up making the same dish about a week later since my husband wasn't here to enjoy it the first time around and I of course ate all the leftovers! This recipe also has the honors of being the first time I cooked with a self grown jalapeno. That sucker was extra hot, of course, so this dish was particularly spicy, but I didn't mind! For you cilantro lovers, this recipe begs for some chopped cilantro to be added just after plating. Even this non-cilantro girl almost wouldn't have minded some, it would just have gone really well with these flavors!

Southwestern Quinoa (adapted from Mary Ellen)
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
1/2 of a small onion, finely chopped
1/2 can of black beans, rinsed & drained
3/4 cup frozen corn, thawed (I just rinse in cool water for a few minutes)
Optional: 1 Tbsp lime juice, 1 Tbs fresh chopped cilantro (I didn't use the lime because the fish was seasoned with citrus, but highly recommend some sort of citrus juice flavor with this dish)
Heat about half the oil in a small saucepan. Add the quinoa and toast for about 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, chili powder, cumin and cayenne, mix well to combine; allow to come to a boil. Turn heat to low, cover and cook until liquid is mostly gone, about 12-15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a medium saute pan. Add onion & peppers. Saute until just starting to carmelize. Add corn and cook until heated through. Add beans, stirring gently until heated through. When quinoa is done, pour on top of the mixture in the saute pan and gently fold vegetables into the quinoa until universally combined. Serve warm and top with lime juice and chopped cilantro, if desired.

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