Saturday, August 06, 2011

quinoa bowl craving

Fiona and I went to the Poetry Slam on Monday. It was her first time, my umpteen bazillionth, but I still put up my hand when host Ms. Spelt asked, "who has never been to a poetry slam?" I think if I didn't do it, I would be lying. We arrived early at the cafe, anticipating a lazy supper. (The men folk were in Las Vegas, eating juicy burgers and watching Penn and Teller make someone's cellphone ring from inside a dead fish.)

We split the yummy big salad with vinaigrette dressing. Fiona ordered the grill cheese sandwich and gave me the pickle (GOOD!). I ordered the quinoa bowl - something I have not seen on the menu before. Things were getting busy at the cafe, but we weren't in a hurry. A few minutes after the server took our order, the manager came to our table and informed me that they were out of quinoa, and asked would I be okay with a rice bowl? I said okay. Now, I do love the cafe, but out of quinoa? Unless they had truly emptied their last big bag of uncooked quinoa, I cannot imagine how this could happen. Quinoa is not Peking Duck. It is a fast cooking grain. If I was a restaurant and I ran out of quinoa, I would bloody cook some more quinoa. But that's me. I am not a restaurant. I am a polite customer, not wanting to hassle anyone for their shortcomings.

The rice bowl and grill cheese come soon after. The server told me that the manager said "Thank you." The rice bowl was good, but I had been looking forward to quinoa, which is not waffles from scratch, or sachertorte, or lobster or fresh cut flowers, or even brown rice but a fast cooking grain that can be prepared in 20 minutes tops. I wondered what was the story, but got an inkling later in the evening, when the cook spontaneously lobbed a raw mushroom from the open kitchen area, hitting a poet while he adjusted the mic stand. It was not a friendly gesture. Perhaps there was a moratorium on cooking any more damn quinoa for the poets and their audience? I still love the cafe, but now, I wonder...

The next night, I got home from work at about 6pm, needing a quick supper. I was still thinking about quinoa, so I cooked some up. It took about 17 minutes. The grilled vegetables took a few minutes longer, but, as they say at the Poetry Slam, "It was WELL worth it."

The Veggies

Cut into bite size pieces enough veggies for however many people are eating. Cut a few more and you'll have some to take for lunch tomorrow. They're good cold or reheated. I used

Japanese eggplant
crimini mushrooms (cut in half)
red bell pepper

Toss the vegetables in olive oil and whatever seasoning you like. I have a pot of fresh rosemary growing on the deck, so that's what I used.

While the veggies are cooking, you can cook the quinoa. Here we go (watch out for flying mushrooms).

The Quinoa

Combine in a pot:

1 cup pre-washed quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
pinch-let of salt

Put the pot on a high-heat burner. When the water boils, stir the quinoa, turn the heat to low, and clamp on a tight lid. Cook for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, take the pot away from the heat, fluff the quinoa (I know you always wanted to be a quinoa fluffer) clamp the lid back on and let it sit for 5 minutes.

The 5 minute waiting time is a good time to pour a glass of pale ale, or a second one if you enjoyed one during the cooking.

When the veggies come off the barbeque, you can toss them with a splash of balsamic vinegar if you want tang. If not, they're good with salt and pepper, because the rosemary and garlic are nice and aromatic all by themselves.

Put some warm quinoa in your bowl. Put some veggies on top of the quinoa. Put a bit of feta or goat cheese on top of the veggies if you eat dairy. Look, the Poetry Slam hasn't even started yet.

This is a yummy combo that can be adapted to whatever veggies you have on hand. If you're barbequeing, just add the tender ones last. You can get a barbeque basket at any good cook-store. If you don't have a barbeque basket, you can stir fry the veggies.

question: what is your current (or constant) craving?

mompoet - a well-nourished cook is a happy cook

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