Archive for May 14th, 2012

Quinoa with Garlic Roasted Sweet Potatoes

May 14, 2012

This started off as Melissa Clark’s recipe for Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Garlic (from Cook This Now).  The basic idea of that recipe is roasting  (at 425 degrees for about a half hour) sweet potatoes (1 1/2 lbs., peeled and cut in 1″ cubes) after tossing them with 3 Tbl. olive oil, 1 tsp. kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, 6 whole unpeeled garlic cloves and a broken cinnamon stick. I decided to toss the cooked sweet potatoes (after removing the bits of cinnamon stick) with a batch of cooked quinoa, toasted almonds, dried cranberries and diced prunes. I also added in some lemon juice. When heated through, the ingredients melded together. The dish reminded me of both couscous and tzimmes at the same time.

My only issue with the original dish and my variation is the intensity of the roasted garlic. I think a little less garlic would be better, or maybe it would better to mash one roasted clove and stir it into the dish and leave the remaining roasted cloves on the side for adding as desired.

Quinoa a la Jardinera

May 14, 2012

We tend to prefer quinoa in  salad form. Even when I make a quinoa pilaf, we like it even better the next day served cold as a salad.

In my ongoing quest for a more exciting quinoa pilaf, I pulled off the shelf a book by the late Felipe Rojas-Lombardi: The Art of South American Cooking. Since quinoa is native to South America, it isn’t altogether surprising that Chef Rojas-Lombardi’s tome has a few interesting quinoa dishes.

His Quinoa a la Jardinera is a particularly nice pilaf style preparation. Warm quinoa is tossed with a colorful confetti of sauteed diced vegetables, including red and green bell peppers, red onion or scallion, carrots, and celery. Other vegetables, such as corn and peas, can be also added. You can tell from the original instructions that the recipe comes from a high-end restaurant chef rather than a home cook–the vegetables aren’t just to be chopped or minced, they are to be cut in a 1/8″ dice.

(Chef Rojas-Lombardi had an interesting background. Originally from Peru, he worked as James Beard’s assistant, was a founding chef of the gourmet food store Dean & Deluca, and then went on to become executive chef at the Ballroom. His restaurant featured tapas, and he is credited with starting the tapas trend in U.S. restaurants.)

The pilaf’s flavor is enlivened with an interesting mix of ginger and herbs. The herbs are particularly important because quinoa on its own has a pretty subtle flavor. When I first served this to my husband, he liked it, but thought it lacked the “big flavor” of quinoa salads I have made in the past. I add more dill (better), and served it the next day cold as a salad with some grape tomatoes tossed in. On the side, I served some guacamole and tortilla chips. Now, that combination–the fresh acidity of the tomatoes, the pungent garlic creaminess of the guacamole, the crunch of the tortilla chips, the subtly chewy-crunchy texture of the quinoa with the backnotes of herbs and ginger–now that had really big, big flavor.

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