Thursday, January 19, 2012

{spanish quinoa}

Since we moved back to the East Coast & close to one of our friends who is vegan I've been more interested in preparing meals that were meat, dairy & egg-free. I'm not sure that our family is ready to take the leap to completely free of those items but I've decided to have at least one vegan dinner each week. I guess, since we're vegetarian already, it's like our version of "meatless Mondays."

My slow cooker had been really underused in Utah. It was out of reach, hard to get to & not in the forefront of my mind when I made the weekly meal plan. However, since moving we have different kitchen space &, with some conscience effort, it's been put back into rotation. Honestly, it's such a perk to be able to do most or all of the dinner preparation while Cassidy is at preschool or while the kids are napping in the afternoon. Then during what I call "the witching hour" right before Michael gets home from work & the girls are wound up & Cade needs to nurse 60 times & the cats need fed & someone rings the doorbell & my phone rings...well, at least dinner is made!

So, with those in mind I happened through the vegetarian/vegan cooking section while Christmas shopping on a Barnes & Nobles gift card. Lo & behold I came across this gem.
I've been combing through it & making a recipe every week or so. So far I give the book five stars. It has a lot of, what my extended family might call, "interesting" recipes but everything so far seems to be really easy with mostly easy to access & minimal ingredients. The recipes range from soups, casseroles & main dishes to bread, breakfasts & desserts. Some are all day cooking recipes that you prepare in the morning & some are just an hour or two out from the meal - but just enough time that you aren't crazy & rushed when that witching hour hits.

This week's winner - which will probably go into our rotation of dinner staples - was Spanish Quinoa. It was listed as a pasta/grain side but with an option to add a protein to make it a one-pot dinner. It was fast, super easy to prepare while the kids were napping & was delicious. My comments in italics.

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I used more-ish. We love garlic.)
  • 1 bell pepper, cored & chopped (I used red. It was on sale. And pretty.)
  • 3 cups water (I added just a little more, maybe ¼ cup since I was adding the optional seitan)
  • 1½ cups quinoa (We like the red quinoa. It has a fuller, nuttier taste. And pretty!)
  • 2 T (12g) vegan chick'n flavored bouillon (I used three cubes.)
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 t salt
  • ½ t chili powder (my measurements were something to the effect of "shake-uh-shake-uh-shake")
  • optional (to make this a one-dish-meal) package of chick'n flavored seitan
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute the onion until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and bell pepper and saute until the pepper is soft, 3-5 minutes.

Combine the sauteed veggies, water, quinoa, bouillon, tomato paste, salt, and chili powder in the slow cooker. Stir until the tomato paste and bouillon are mixed in the liquids. Cook on high for 1½ to 2 hours (it took the full 2 hours & honestly could have cooked just a little longer), until the quinoa has unfurled. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Yield: 8 servings (eh, 4 large or 5 small if a one-dish meal)
Total Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Total Cooking Time: 1½ to 2 hours

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