Friday, October 14, 2011

Toasted Quinoa with Spinach, Blistered Tomatoes, and Walnuts

One of my new favorite things to do to remember vacations, other than take pictures and video, is buying cookbooks.  I try to find older cookbooks written by locals that may have more authentic recipes.  In New Orleans I was on the lookout but most of the cookbooks were from current chefs (yes, we went to Emeril's restaurant NOLA) or were written for tourists.  We were walking in New Orleans when we came upon a sign for a National Park.  I've been to many National Parks but all of them have been in wide open spaces, not in the middle of the city.  We went into the Jean Laffite National Historical Park, which was a small  courtyard and museum.  In the museum I found Talk About Good a cookbook from 1967 written by the Junior League of Lafayette Louisiana.  It is real cajun cooking from the 60s.  I don't know if I will make any of the savory recipes.  I am not a fan of cream, a lot of oil, grease or butter, or cheese and most of the recipes have these.  However, I think I could try to convert the sweet recipes to gluten free so I could use it.  Reading it is just as much fun as cooking for it, so it was a good buy!

One grain that the book definitely does not have in it is quinoa.  In my home, I use wild rice and/or quinoa as much as my go to basmati, jasmine, or long grain rice.   However, I have never toasted it before.  It adds an additional flavor profile.  Yes, this dish also includes blistered tomatoes.  It may seem like blistered tomato overload, but I made this dish around a month ago and it was the inspiration for my previous dish.

Toasted Quinoa with Spinach, Blistered Tomatoes, and Walnuts

1 1/2 cups quinoa
3 Cups of vegetable broth
2 Tbs olive oil
3 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp coarse salt
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 bag of baby spinach
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup torn basil leaves

Rinse quinoa for 1 minutes in a fine mesh strainer and shake, removing as much water as possible.  Put 1 Tbs of oil into large skillet.  Add the quinoa and stir over medium heat until light brown.  This takes around 10 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Then add 3 cups of vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  Cook, covered, over medium low heat until the water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked, approximately 20 min.  

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in small skillet over medium high heat.  Add whole tomatoes and agitate them by shaking skillet back and forth for around 5 minutes.  You will se the tomatoes begin to blister and pick up some color.  Put to the side

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lay walnut pieces on baking sheet and roast for 5 - 10 minutes until they start to brown.  Put to the side.  

Put spinach in the quinoa and cook over medium heat until wilted, around 3 minutes.  Add tomatoes, walnuts, cheese, basil and fluff to combine.  

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