Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cajun Quinoa

Normally I like my grains simple, simple, simple.  I cook them all - rice, quinoa, barley - with only water.  I don't even add salt.

I do this because I know I'm going to top them with something very flavorful, like spicy curry, garlicky black beans, or a tangy vinaigrette.  I love the contrast of the soft, warm, subtly nutty grains with cold, vinegary olives, acidic-sweet tomatoes, or toasted seeds.

But, sometimes I want a hot, savory, rib-sticking grain dish that doesn't even need contrast; it just IS mouthwatering and flavor-packed alone.

You can accomplish a crazy-flavorful grain dish with any aromatic vegetables, spices, and grain that you like.  All you need to do is apply the basic principles.  Start by sautéing aromatic veggies.  Add your grains and spices to toast and deglaze.  Add something protein-y, like tofu, tempeh, lentils, beans, or field roast sausage.  Cover with 2 parts water or broth (to 1 part grain) and cook until done.  That's it!

This particular quinoa dish has a bit of a cajun or creole thing going on, I suppose.  It's a simple weeknight meal, and I suggest you serve it with a side salad and be done with it.

Cajun Quinoa

1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp butter
1 onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
1 field roast sausage, sliced
1 1/2 cups quinoa
big pinch garlic powder
big pinch chili powder
cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
1 big tomato, diced (or a few cherry tomatoes, chopped)
1 splash red wine
3 cups vegetable broth

1. heat oil and butter over medium heat in a pot
2. meanwhile, chop onions, peppers, celery, carrot, and garlic, in that order, and begin adding them to the pot with a generous pinch of kosher salt, as you chop.
3. while the veggies soften, slice the sausage and add it to the pot.
4. add the quinoa, stir to coat, and let toast a little while you add all the spices to the pot
5. deglaze with red wine
6. add tomatoes and broth, bring to boil, cover and reduce to low. Cook until liquid is absorbed, fluff with a fork, and your quinoa is ready.

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