If you've never had/heard of quinoa, here's a short lesson:
Pronounced "keen-wah", it is a grain-like seed from Central and South America. It is high in protein, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus (and more!). Its recognition as being a "super-food" is increasing its popularity and hopefully you'll see it popping up in all grocery stores if it's not already present! You can typically find it near rice. It's a little bit more expensive (I paid $4 for 14 oz dry, which can surprisingly go a long way), but totally worth it.
There are different types of quinoa, the most common being the traditional (brown) sort. On its own, it is pretty plain to taste; that's a great thing about it--you can flavor it in endless ways! People use quinoa in all kinds of dishes...mixed with yogurt, honey, almonds, and/or fruit for breakfast, in salads, in chili, as a side on its own (maybe with some spices), etc, etc. You can cook it, or just soak it for cold dishes. Its versatility is only one aspect of it that makes it one of my favorite foods!
Here is the recipe for the dinner we had this evening:
- 29 oz black beans, rinsed and drained (use a can or dried. I prefer dried but this takes some prep ahead of time). You could substitute for other beans, of course! There are a lot of good ones out there....
- 6 oz can of tomato paste
- 32 oz vegetable stock
- 1 onion, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic (of course fresh is best, but I never use all the cloves when I buy it so I just go for the pre-minced that you refrigerate)
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- salt and pepper to taste
- avocado and cilantro for garnish (optional)
1. Peel the potato then chop it, and the onions.
3. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.
4. Add onions and sautee until they are soft and smelling delicious.
5. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.
6. Add the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, and oregano for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
7. Add the beans, stock, potatoes, and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes.
8. Add the cup of quinoa, and continue cooking for about 30 minutes (simmer, med-low), until the potatoes are cooked and the chili has thickened. Make sure you are stirring it up every few minutes. I have found the rate limiting step is the potatoes. I had mine covered for a little bit, but it was not thickening at all so I took the lid off most of the time, until it was a nice consistency. If yours is too thick by the time it's done, you can add a little bit of water.
|Immediately after I poured in my cup of quinoa.|
9. While you wait, you can cut up the avocado and cilantro if you decided to include them in your meal. I love both, so of course I did :). As Sal (my husband) pointed out to me, the avocado serves as a creamy, fatty...almost cheese-substitute. I don't know about you, but our traditional chili dinners usually get cheese loaded on. So surprisingly, the avocado filled that void. Mmmm.
|Ready to get in my belly.|
10. Serve your bowl of chili and top with avocado and chopped cilantro.
11. Enjoy, save and reheat left-overs for lunch or dinner! I hope this leaves you feeling like I did...full, but light, not that gross "stuffed" feeling. This has easily and quickly become one of my new favorite meals and it will be hard to go back to the previous chili recipe I usually swear by. If you're a chili fan, I highly suggest you try this.
Feel good about the flavorful meal you just threw together and rest easy knowing it was healthy....and vegan. Did you notice? ;)