Thursday, October 18, 2012

Southwestern Quinoa Chili

Last night, I made quinoa again.  And beyond all my reasonable assumptions, my actual enjoyment of quinoa still remains.  I really liked my quinoa chili (even if it was supposed to be a salad...).  And now I am truly stumped.  I was sure that the first time I liked quinoa, it was a fluke.  You see, my two previous attempts of liking quinoa (pre-blog) failed miserably.  I'm talking end-up-in-the-trashcan-and-don't-even-get-me-started-on-how-much-I-hate-throwing-good-food-away kinds of fail.  But I had a 27 lb CostCo bag of quinoa that prompted me to get back on the horse not only once, but twice!  And like any good magic charm #3, I liked it.  It didn't make sense, so I consequently deemed it a fluke.

But now I don't know what to think.  On one hand there are things like my tastebuds and common sense telling me that "Qunioa? Eh, it's not so bad".  And on the other hand?  That's where my inner fat girl hangs out.  The one that distrusts things that come from far away lands, things with funny names, things sworn to be superman healthy.  She's not feeling it.  She is very much "I don't even know what quinoa is".

This is the stuff that epic battles songs are written about.  Why is there never a bard around when you need one?

Angel/Demon shoulder fights aside, I suppose this is a lesson to be taken from all of this.  Don't eat quinoa alone.  Learn from my mistakes.  If you think that cooking it up in some chicken stock with a spice or two will be enough, you are setting yourself up to fail.  Throw something in there: sauteed onions, dried cranberries, fresh corn.  Top it with a dressing, or cheese, or fresh herbs.  Then eat it up, cause really, quinoa?  It's not so bad.

Southwestern Quinoa Chili
Inspried by Pixelated Crumb

This recipe was supposed to be a quinoa salad.  For starters, my patience got the better of me.  I didn't completely drain my beans and tomatoes.  I didn't wait for the quinoa to cool.  I threw it all together in about 20 minutes (plus unloaded my dishwasher!) and enjoyed it even faster.  For the spice blend, there is no need to go one a spicy spice shopping spree if you don't have the ones listed.  Sub in chili powder and cumin as needed for whatever you don't have.  Also, I used chipotle pepper flakes because I have a large jar of them that I never use.  Good old regular red pepper flakes will work just as well!

1 c. quinoa, uncooked
2 c. chicken stock
1 can black beans, drained
1 can green chiles
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
1 1/2 c. frozen peas, thawed
1 can diced tomatoes

1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. chipotle pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. cumin, heaping
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. Hungarian paprika
1/2 tsp. ancho chili powder
1 tsp. dried oregano

Thoroughly rinse quinoa in a strainer.  Transfer to large sauce pan over medium heat.  Toast quinoa 2-3 minutes, until a darker tan in color and toasted in smell.  Add chicken broth and bring mixture to a rapid boil.  Cover, reduce heat and let quinoa simmer for 15 minutes, until quinoa "tails" start spiraling away from the grain. If liquid remains, drain (doesn't need to be drained completely) and fluff quinoa with a fork.

In large skillet, heat grapeseed oil (or canola, grapeseed is my new workhorse though).  Sautee garlic and onion for 2 minutes, until fragrant and onions are translucent.  Add beans and green chilies.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine dressing ingredients in small bowl and whisk well.

Combine cooked bean mixture, tomatoes, peas and quinoa.  Pour dressing over top and toss to combine.  Serve in bowls topped with queso fresco (or feta) and some crusty bread if you have it.

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