Monday, May 3, 2010

I'm keen for Quinoa

Which must be like saying "I'm Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs" but in a more mature way.

That is the theory, at least.  It's bubbling downstairs, I'll soon take a bite.  This is a slight break from Five Easy Pieces - to resume later this week.

Here is the recipe:

Baked Quinoa With Spinach and Cheese


1 6-ounce bag baby spinach
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 plump garlic cloves, minced
4 cups cooked quinoa, (1 cup uncooked)
2 large eggs
3 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (3/4 cup)
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1 ounce Parmesan, grated (1/4 cup)

1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Oil a 2-quart gratin or baking dish.
2. Heat a medium frying pan or a wide saucepan over medium-high heat. Wash the spinach and without spinning dry, add to the pan and wilt in the liquid left on the leaves after washing. You may have to do this in 2 batches. As soon as the spinach wilts, remove from the heat and rinse with cold water. Squeeze dry and chop. Set aside.
3. Wipe the pan dry and heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in it over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir with the onion until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the spinach and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
4. Beat the eggs in a large bowl and add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir in the quinoa, the onion and spinach mixture, the Gruyère, and the sage. Add freshly ground pepper and stir the mixture together. Scrape into the gratin dish. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top and drizzle on the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Place in the oven and bake until nicely browned on top, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat, allow to sit for about 5 minutes, and serve.

Advance preparation: The cooked quinoa will keep for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator. The recipe can be made through Step 3 several hours or even a day ahead. The gratin can be assembled several hours ahead.

The verdict?  On paper, it looks like it should be amazing.  It's not bad, but something is missing.  It's a little bland.  Maybe the spinach makes it taste too healthy (or the quinoa). 

The recipe called for salt and I didn't use it (I figured I could do that afterwards if I wanted it) and perhaps cooking with salt (instead of sprinkling it on after) is important... also, I forgot until the last second that I needed to rinse the quinoa and I don't think I managed to strain it adequately afterwards and as a result I think there was too much water - I may have overcooked it a little. I ended up straining the result! I know you are supposed to cook it until it's fluffy like rice. Next time I am buying a sieve - colanders have big holes.

It wasn't bad, it just wasn't what I expected. I already doled out my portion for lunch so we'll see if settling overnight helped to set the flavors in.  Also, I work with a number of Peruvians, I'll inquire with the experts.

Next day:  leftovers were much, much better.


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