Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Summer Harvest and the Mother of All Grains

It's that glorious time of year when you can't keep up with the fruits (and vegetables) of your garden. This weekend we had friends over and grilled veggies galore for tacos. There was zucchini and yellow squash, poblano and anaheim peppers, onions, mushrooms. We whipped up some homemade salsa because we are literally swimming in tomatoes still. It was really tasty stuff, but we had a ton of grilled veggies leftover. What to do? Drawing on my sturdy Midwestern roots, I did what any self-respecting Minnesotan would... I made a hotdish. Being a bit of a foodie and interested in something a little healthier, I substituted quinoa for elbow macaroni and opted for more of an italian theme with fresh basil instead of chili powder.

Were you with me until the quinoa? Quinoa (prounounced keen-wah or Qin-wah) is a really easy "grain" to work with that has the special status of being the only "grain" that is also a complete protein. That's not its only nutritional claim to fame. Quinoa is also a good source of dietary fiber, calcium, and iron. Oh, it's also gluten-free. No wonder the Incas considered it the "mother of all grains."  Now you're in the know, and just in time for 2013 which has been deemed by the United Nations as Year of Quinoa.

Michelle's Quinoa Hotdish

10-12 roma tomatoes (or a 28oz can)
1 medium onion
1 T oregano
1 T olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
4 cloves of garlic
1 t salt
2 t pepper
3/4 - 1 c quinoa
1 can black olives
2 c. leftover grilled veggies (or your choice of sauteed veggies)
1/2 c. fresh basil

Use a 2 quart pot and heat the olive oil on medium high while cutting the romas in quarters and dicing the onion. Add onion to the pot and let brown lightly then add in tomatoes. Add balsamic vinegar, diced garlic and oregano, salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to medium and let simmer for 30 minutes, stir occassionally. If you are using canned tomatoes, you can cut down on the simmer time to 15 mins. Add in quinoa and let cook 15-20 mins, check on it and if necessary add 1/4 c. water or veggie broth. When the liquid is gone (like with cooking rice), stir in veggies, olives and fresh basil.

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