MORE quinoa? Yep, I’m afraid so. It’s January, the time for austerity, of body as well as mind. And there’s nothing more crushingly austere than a super-douper health food grain. Right?
Wrong. Quinoa, despite its, holier-than-thou goodie two shoes reputation, is actually pretty tasty. Delicious even. I know! I was as surprised as you. Nutty, just the merest hint of crunch, and it stands up to sauces. So good, in fact, that I had to have it twice. In quick succession.
Quinoa falls into that category of food, like rice, that goes well with pretty much everything. Last time round it was a creamy, healthy baby-leaves affair. This time, I’ve kept the spinach, but adding a bit more Latin oomph.
Gone are the mellow and aromatic spices, now there’s sweet-sharp tomatoes, proper grown up spinach and some punchy, smoky, hot flavours to lift it into the realms of supreme(ly easy) winter comfort food. And yes, it’s still healthy.
What else could you do with this wonder grain? I’ve made porridge with it (slightly odd, but it grows on you) and have heard tell of some people playing with Sichuan peppercorns and other nuclear flavours. So much to try!
Smokey and hot quinoa with cherry tomatoes and grown up spinach
Serves four healthy or two gluttonous people
As intimated above, you can have all sorts of fun with quinoa. It’s a blank – but tasty – canvas on which to paint your culinary art. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Vermeer, Pollock or Ai Weiwei in the kitchen. When it comes to food, quinoa is very forgiving.
1 medium or large onion – finely chopped
1 clove garlic – finely chopped
A punnet of cherry tomatoes – quartered
A bunch of spinach – well washed and chopped
Quarter tsp turmeric
Half tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp smokey paprika
1 heaped tsp ground cumin
1 tsp tomato puree
salt & pepper
Boil some water in a small pan, add a little salt and when bubbling merrily, pour in the quinoa. Cook for 13 minutes, then drain.
In the meantime, fry the onions until soft, about fifteen minutes on a medium low heat, add the garlic, store a couple of times and sprinkle in the spice. Stir them in, then add the tomatoes.
Stir and cook for about ten minutes, then add the spinach. Stir and cook until the spinach is wilted. Now chuck in the quinoa, season with salt and pepper and cook for a couple of minutes more and serve.