I previously mentioned that I’d share a dish I created using my new favorite grain, quinoa. There are more possibilities for this than what I am suggesting here, but I like how this came together. The flavors complemented the natural nuttiness of the seed and made for a tasty, healthful, one-dish meal. Obviously, you can omit the bacon and it’ll be more healthful… but why would you want to omit bacon? (Oh, you vegetarians, go ahead and leave it out… but throw in some caramelized onions!)
There are even more things in this dish than the title suggests. Parmesan and pine nuts round out the cast of characters, both playing a minor, but important, role as a last second addition on the plate.
Apparently even Top Chef Masters can’t resist using this in their dishes. Last night Zooey Deschanel was served a quinoa pasta with an heirloom-tomato salsa (recipe here). If you have any other suggestions for preparing this grain, let me know!
1 cup dry quinoa (prepared per packet instructions, or here for standard instructions)
2 rashers of bacon (diced)
1 small onion (diced)
2 carrots (diced)
2 leeks (diced)
5-6 cremini mushrooms (about a cup) (diced)
Pine nuts (or slivered almonds)
- Place a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the bacon.
- When the bacon starts to render some if it’s fat (2-4 minutes), add the onion and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook until the onion softens, stirring occasionally (about 5 minutes). The bacon should render enough fat that you don’t need to add any oil. If the skillet ever looks dry, add a drop of olive oil.
- Add the carrots, stir, turn off the heat, and cover. (This will gently cook the carrots, keeping them firm.) In a small pot, boil two cups of water and 1/2 tsp salt.
- When the water comes to a boil, add the quinoa, stir once, reduce heat to low and cover. The water should be at a bare simmer. Cook for 13-15 minutes, until the water has been absorbed.
- 5 minutes into the cooking time of the quinoa, return the skillet to medium heat and add the mushrooms. (Keep skillet uncovered.) Cook for 5 minutes, then stir in the diced leeks. Cook for about 5 minutes more, or until the quinoa is done.
- Combine everything in a large serving bowl or casserole dish (or just on your plate if you don’t want to clean something else).
- Sprinkle on some Parmesan and pine nuts, to taste.
Heath tip: Omit the bacon for an even healthier dish. As a bonus, it becomes vegetarian!