12 March 2013

Quickie Quinoa Dinner!

Not to worry, friends! The DIY condiment post is in the works, but must post tonight's dinner recipe now because I can't stop thinking about how wonderful it was, especially while eating with a table surrounded with family, and lots of laughter.

I've been looking at all the ways to use quinoa lately, and have noticed a lot of recipes for quinoa "mac and cheese" dishes. We love homemade mac and cheese in our house, but it's not something I make often due to the fat and carbohydrate content, so finding I could use quinoa and possibly achieve a great, healthy dish with all the goodness and comfort of the traditional baked pasta dish was wonderful news! Granted, I didn't really eliminate too much fat from this, but as the quinoa can create a sort of soft, creamy texture, the addition of excessive amounts of butter and cream were unnecessary. I looked at a lot of recipes and while some appeared very saucy and soupy, I decided to try for a creamy, cheesy, but not mushy, texture and was thrilled to accomplish exactly that. Better still, our entire meal which is perfect for MFM (Meat-free Mondays) was happily carnivore-approved! In addition to the quinoa mac, we enjoyed some sautéed red chard with garlic, salt and pepper, as well as roasted cauliflower.

Quinoa Mac and Cheese

Preheat oven to 350º

Bring to a gentle boil:
3 cups vegetable stock
and stir in
2 cups quinoa (found at any grocery store these days, and of course in the bulk foods at WinCo!)
Lower temperature to low, cover and cook until liquid is absorbed which takes about 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and gently fold in:
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (used medium cheddar tonight, but prefer sharp anytime)
1/4 cup cream 
1 large egg
1 tsp smoked paprika
a few dashes hot sauce
sea salt and pepper to taste

Pour mixture into greased 9x13 baking dish

Top with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and a light layer of bread crumbs, plain or seasoned, to give it a nice bit of texture in the form of a thin, crispy crust!

Bake for 25 minutes

This recipe can easily be made vegan using dairy-free subs for the cream, butter, etc. and the egg can be eliminated, but makes for a good binder so maybe an egg substitute can be used there. Another note on the recipe is that I kept it quite simple this time as it was a first go with the recipe, but in the future I will definitely try adding in some other cheeses and will very likely get some veggies in there as well. I'm thinking mushrooms! Feel free to mix in some diced bell peppers, jalapeño, spinach, broccoli, tomato, whatever your family's favorite veggies, they'll make the recipe your own!

If you haven't used quinoa before, it's a great thing to have around. Aside from being very healthful and affordable, it's incredibly versatile like rice or pasta. It's a high-protein grain, very easy to find, comes in a few varieties and has endless possibilities for preparation that will please any tastebuds!

Well, that's it for this spur of the moment post, but please enjoy this recipe! I know we did!