One of my favorite ingredients to use in the kitchen is quinoa. It’s super easy to cook and a versatile alternative to rice and other grains. Actually, it isn’t a grain at all. It’s native to South America and a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and swiss chard. And, it has a great nutritional profile:
One serving fills 48% of our daily magnesium needs
Low in cholesterol and sodium
Caloric ratio is 71% carbs, 14% fat, 15% protein
I’ve been playing around with quinoa a bit lately and have been adding it to stews. When the weather starts getting cold, all I want to eat are warm hearty stews. Here’s one of my favorite recipes. I love the rich flavors – sweet, spicy and savory.
SWEET POTATO AND WINTER SQUASH STEW (adapted from Jump Up and Kiss Me: Spicy Vegetarian Cooking by Jennfier Trainer Thompson)
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch dice
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice
4 carrots, peels and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch thick rounds
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch long slices
2 serrano peppers, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice (You could substitute jalapeño peppers for something less spicy)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons marjoram
1 stick of cinnamon (or 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes with juice
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups cooked beans (kidney, cannellini or black) or 1 can beans, rinsed
Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread squash, sweet potatoes and carrots in a heavy 12×18-inch shallow baking pan and toss with 2 tablespoons oil. Roast for 20 minutes or until barely tender. Set aside.
Cook onion in remaining 2 tablespoons in oil in a large, heavy stockpot over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add bell pepper and serrano peppers and cook until softened, another 5 minutes. Add garlic, marjoram, cinnamon, cumin and paprika and cook until fragrant. Add tomatoes and juice and simmer 20 minutes until slightly reduced. Add quinoa and simmer 10 minutes. Add roasted vegetables and beans and simmer another 20-30 minutes until vegetables are tender. Serve!