Hi everyone! We are giving you a little change of pace today, another voice in the blog. My name is Erin; I’m Matt’s wife. I too am an avid runner and new pescetarian. And I’ve also recently gotten into road biking. I typically get to reap the benefits of Matt’s delicious cooking, but truth be told, a lot of our meal planning and cooking as of late have been done together. This past Saturday though, I was left alone in the kitchen to make something out of what I presumed was nothing! We were desperate to find something to eat for lunch because it was pouring outside and neither Matt nor I wanted to venture out into the monsoon. On cold and rainy days, soups seem to be appealing so I challenged myself to create a soup or stew (it ended up being more like a stew because I let the liquid reduce to a less than soup-like consistency) out of the random ingredients that I had in my kitchen. On top of this I chose to cook with an ingredient that was new to me– quinoa!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with quinoa (like me), it is a grain that has great nutritional value! (UPDATE- It turns out that quinoa is not actually a grain; it’s a grain-like “pseudocereal” because it’s not a type of grass.) Not only is it high in protein, but it’s a complete protein source because it contains a balanced set of essential amino acids. There are many different ways to prepare quinoa; it can be used for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or in baking. We had picked it up previously at the health food store and I decided that this meal was worth testing it out on! After all, I was determined to use as much of my random leftover ingredients as I could.
I have to be honest; I much prefer to follow a strict recipe, and I am not the best at coming up with my own creations. I, like many people out there, don’t always know what spices or ingredients to combine to create the perfect taste sensation. I was very happy to learn, though, that rather than throwing the random leftover veggies into the compost, I could, without much work, create a tasty stew for us to enjoy. It was pretty quick and easy and was very pleasing to our palates. And the biggest accomplishment was that we were able to stay inside and avoid the monsoon! So for all of you at home, I would suggest trying this recipe when you are left with a variety of fresh veggies. Don’t let them go to waste; be creative! For example, you could substitute celery for the chinese cabbage, fresh tomatoes for canned, or rice for the quinoa. As I was making it, I thought that it might even be good with some chipotles in adobo! Sometimes a little kick is nice (for me though, moderation is best). Try serving it with a nice whole-wheat bread to soak up some of the juices! It’s yummy. It was great as leftovers too!
Quinoa and Vegetable Stew Recipe
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2/3 cup quinoa
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 1 small head cauliflower, chopped
- 1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 8 canned whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
- 4 tablespoons tomato sauce (from the can with the tomatoes)
- 1-1/2 cups chinese cabbage, sliced
- 8 basil leaves, torn
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 shakes of Italian seasoning
- 2 cups baby spinach
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup parsley, for garnish
Heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven on medium-high heat. Stir in the quinoa, carrot, onion, bell pepper, cauliflower, and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until lightly browned, stirring frequently.
Pour in the stock, water, tomatoes and sauce, cabbage, bay leaves, Italian seasoning, basil, and spinach. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the quinoa and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley before serving. Also don’t forget to remove the bay leaves!