Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Comforting Quinoa

Ben and I made pho-ga recently and the tastes of that Vietnamese chicken soup have been lingering in my mind for weeks. The warmth of the clove and the zing of the ginger have been dancing around, taunting me, pleading with me to make something just as flavorful, and just as comforting. I had also been introduced to coriander seed via the pho-ga recipe and was intrigued by its unique flavor and couldn’t wait to taste it again. How great would it be to be able to enjoy all of those tastes in another dish?

Incidentally, quinoa has become my life-saver, my go-to food lately. It not only cooks up fast and easy, but it is also relatively high in fiber (5g) and protein (5g). Even though I can usually cook up a delicious meal without any sort of grain, by basing the meal on either vegetables, beans, meat, or eggs, I find something particularly comforting about including a warm, soft grain-based part to my meal. Quinoa has become a staple in my kitchen since I discovered it fills this gap in my meals and is healthier than rice or rice-based pastas.

So there I was, cooking up quinoa to go with my asparagus and crock-pot chicken, and I realized I had the perfect blank canvas to create the flavors I had been craving. I excitedly threw in some ginger, clove, sea salt, cilantro, and ground coriander. The smells mingled and wafted up to my nose as the quinoa absorbed its cooking water and I knew I was in for heaven. With these few seasonings, I transformed a comforting grain into a bona-fide comfort food. Move over mac and cheese!

Comforting Quinoa

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water (or broth)
½ teaspoon ground clove
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cilantro
½ teaspoon ground coriander seed
Sea salt to taste

Place quinoa and water in large saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and add clove, ginger, cilantro, and coriander, stirring to add. Cover and simmer until all water is absorbed (about 15 minutes). Taste and add salt as desired.


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