Last week, my good friend Liz (and by good friend, I mean she’s standing up in my wedding) asked me to improve on a quinoa risotto recipe that she had at a restaurant and has been trying to recreate at home. The recipe sounded intriguing; quinoa given the risotto treatment. A very cool idea, indeed. So I bought quinoa in bulk — large, Costo-esque packages. I made the risotto last week. Then I made it again on Sunday. And I’m going to make it one more time before posting it, next time perhaps with asparagus, since I’ve been thinking that would be a nice touch for spring.
Then Charlie, a good family friend (and by good family friend, I mean he and his wife are singing in my wedding) shared with me his “fried quinoa” creation — a quinoa dish that’s essentially given the fried rice treatment. He uses red quinoa, which I imagine would work quite nicely here, and adds it cooked to fried chickpeas and mushrooms until it’s crisped up a bit. So when I came home from class last night tired, hungry and lacking in the fresh produce department, I grabbed the quinoa I had left over from my risotto, a can of chickpeas, some mushrooms from the fridge, and some fresh basil I happened to have on hand for a pasta dish I knew wasn’t going to happen. Within minutes — maybe 15 or so — I had a delicious dinner. Charlie, you came through big for me with this one. I hope I did your dish justice here.
Then there was yesterday’s Vegan at Heart mission: to read about quinoa (see, these missions are really painlessly easy). The final send-off? “Impress someone with your knowledge of quinoa this week.” Well, I don’t know if I’m going to impress you folks with my knowledge this week, though I’m thinking I might have a chance at impressing you with Liz and Charlie’s quite impressive quinoa dishes.
Has the universe been telling me to post some quinoa recipes, or what?
This one’s simple and easy, but thouroughly delicious. Try red quinoa, as Charlie uses, a variety of mushrooms, or other vegetables. I used basil, since I had it on hand, but I imagine other herbs and spices might be just as nice — or you could use none at all. I have a feeling this is one of those dishes that could be great with a million and one variations.
Tip: cook quinoa in vegetable broth instead of water.
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and cooked according to package directions
1 can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and patted dry
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
3 shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin
1 bunch fresh basil, sliced into thin ribbons
Salt to taste
1. Toss chickpeas with olive oil and cumin and add to a hot skillet or stir-fry pan. Toss for a few minutes (2-3) over high heat, or until browned on the outside. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook until most of the oil is absorbed and mushrooms are slightly soft.
2. Add cooked quinoa and toss with the other ingredients until quinoa is dry and begins to get crisp as it comes off the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and toss in fresh basil, plus enough salt to taste (I used about 1/4 teaspoon).