Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Crispy Quinoa Bake

I’ve made a few vegetarian meals that weren’t all that great lately. There was a vegan cream of mushroom soup topped with sautéed mushrooms and a hazelnut gremolata. It was good enough that I will make it again, but not very photogenic, and I didn’t get the texture as smooth as I would have wanted (maybe I should get that Vitamix after all). Then I made a vegan frittata with potatoes and onions (so somewhat like a tofu tortilla española), but that wasn’t a favorite. It actually tasted better topped with parmesan or the leftover gremolata from the soup, and it still would have needed more flavor and/or a green vegetable. Neither of those dishes was very filling, either.

This baked quinoa dish, however, was totally worth it. I made it milder and used a whole red bell pepper instead of half a green one, and it was really, really good. I was even on board with the cooked zucchini! The pictures didn’t come out that great, what with the shiny top on the cheese and all, but you could always broil the dish for a few minutes before taking it out of the oven. I used extra sharp Tillamook cheddar, which I can digest just fine, but feel free to use whatever lactose-free cheese or cheese substitute you like.

1 cup quinoa, uncooked
1 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock if you want)
1 medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium or 2 small zucchini, cubed
1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 4-oz. can diced green chiles (I omitted that entirely)
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup frozen corn (I used a can, rinsed and drained)
½ tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. chili powder (I used ½ tsp. Korean pepper)
½ lime, juiced
2 cups lactose-free cheese, shredded (I used sharp cheddar)

Preheat the oven to 375 °F. Spray a 9”x13” baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.

Place the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly with cool water for at least two minutes. Drain.

In a medium saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring, for about one minute. The quinoa should begin to dry out and pop a bit. Add the vegetable stock. Stir and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and peppers and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and zucchini and cook 3 more minutes.
Fluff the quinoa with a fork and place it in a large bowl. Add onion mixture, beans, green chiles (if using), tomatoes, corn, cumin, oregano, chili powder, lime juice, and salt to taste. Mix thoroughly and transfer to prepared baking dish. Bake 30 minutes, top with cheese, and bake 10 minutes more or until melted and just beginning to brown.

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