Sometimes, it’s good to find a new way of cooking a familiar ingredient. Typically, I cook quinoa in a pan of boiling water, drain it, and then serve it as a side dish much like rice or potatoes. But unlike rice or potatoes, who occasionally get to star in a risotto, or a delicious dauphinoise, quinoa usually sits on the side-lines. Until now…!
I considered cooking the quinoa risotto style – adding stock gradually and stirring – but I suspect the grains aren’t starchy enough to develop a creamy texture the way arborio rice does. (Also, I didn’t feel up to standing around stirring.) I browsed umpteen recipes, and eventually concocted the idea for a quinoa bake, studded with delicious vegetables and topped with cheese. I think Americans would call this a casserole (erroneously). Yum yum yum.
As I was making this, Kipper announced that she wanted pasta and pesto for dinner. I began to explain that I wasn’t making pasta, and anyway we didn’t have any pesto, and she began to strop. A sudden inspiration! But this is a rainbow quinoa bake, I said. Rainbow. She paused. “What’s it made with then?” she enquired, suspiciously. Rainbow deliciousness, I replied. She reluctantly agreed to try it…
I didn’t feel like too much of a liar. Almost all the colours of the rainbow are represented here, one way or the other:
- Red – pepper
- Orange – carrots
- Yellow – onions
- Green – leek, courgette and pepper
- Blue – OK, no blue food, sorry
- Purple – Kalamata olives
In the end it was a big hit all round. DH must either have been really hungry or really liked it, because he ate just over half by himself! Kipper and I saw off the remainder – she ate some of the quinoa then excavated all the vegetables and ate them separately.
So, I’d say this serves 2-3.
- 2 medium onions
- 1 leek
- 3tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 red pepper
- 1 green pepper
- 1 large or 2 smaller courgettes
- 12-15 kalamata olives
- 125g quinoa
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 400ml hot vegetable stock
- 2 eggs
- 75-100g grated cheese
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Peel and chop the onions. Trim the leek and cut into 6-8mm slices. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over a medium heat, then fry the onions and leek.
- Peel the carrots, halve lengthways and slice into 4-5mm slices. Add to the pan and stir.
- Deseed the peppers and cut into dice. Add to the pan and stir.
- Trim the courgette, cut into quarters lengthwise and slice into 4-5mm slices. Add to the pan and stir.
- Finally, slice the kalamata olives into 3-4 slices each, and add to the pan. Mix everything well.
- Stir in the quinoa and season with the pepper. Add the stock and mix well. Cover and simmer for 5-6 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for a few moments. Beat the eggs and quickly stir into the quinoa mixture. Tip everything into a baking dish, sprinkle the grated cheese over, and transfer to the oven.
- Bake at 180C for 25 minutes, until the quinoa is cooked and the cheese is melted and golden. Serve.