I think quinoa has become a victim of its own success. It has swayed from being THE food on all the foodies’ list to THE food a lot of people don’t want to know or read about. A pity because it is one of the most versatile, healthy grains to keep in your kitchen cupboard and works well in soups and casseroles, in salads, for stuffing, to make fritters and burgers and even in desserts.
Today’s recipe has an Italian influence courtesy anchovies, pine nuts and basil. Co-incidentally, I had timed my cooking to an episode of The Sopranos (TS) (the one in which Tony & Co. host a card game and Frank Sinatra Jr. makes a guest appearance). 20 minutes of TS, 15 minutes of cooking the vegetables, 8 minutes of cooking the quinoa, finish TS while quinoa is resting.
I wonder if Tony ever ate quinoa
Probably not, looking at the kind of food they showcase. But hopefully, the late amazingly great Mr. Gandolfini did.
So onwards with today’s Italian inspired quinoa.
1 Cup quinoa
2 Cups water
Stock cube (chicken or vegetable)
One tablespoon olive oil
One tablespoon anchovies*
10-12 Cherry tomatoes
One yellow pepper
One large onion
One head of garlic
One tablespoon Italian seasoning*
One tablespoon piquant cheese*
A handful of basil leaves
1-2 Tablespoons pine nuts
A handful of black olives, sliced
Salt to taste
- Put the quinoa in a saucepan along with the water and stock cube. Ratio of quinoa to water should be 1 : 2 (one part quinoa, two parts water). Cook for about 15-20 minutes (or according to instructions on your packet).
- Once the quinoa is cooked, let it rest for 5 minutes and then fluff it with a fork. Keep aside.
- Now prepare the vegetables. Peel, wash and chop the onions.
- Peel and slice the garlic.
- Wash and dice the yellow pepper.
- Wash and dice the courgette.
- Wash the cherry tomatoes.
- Wash and shred the basil.
- Heat a skillet. Once hot, add the pine nuts. Stir them for 2-3 minutes till they are nicely toasted.
- Remove the pine nuts to a plate.
- Put the skillet back on heat and add the oil. Once hot, add the chopped onions and sliced garlic. Add salt, give it a stir, cover and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Once the time is up, open the lid and add the yellow pepper, cherry tomatoes and courgette along with the anchovies, seasoning and basil. Mix well, cover and cook for 10 more minutes. At the end of 10 minutes, once the vegetables are cooked, you may see some of their juices. That is perfectly fine.
- Next, add the cooked quinoa, olives, pine nuts and cheese.
- Combine well, cover and cook for 10 minutes so that the quinoa is heated through and absorbs all the juices.
- Turn off the gas, let it rest for about 5-10 minutes before serving.
- I used anchovies marinated in olive oil and used this oil this for cooking.
- You can cook the quinoa ahead of time. Mine was cooked a few hours beforehand.
- I had used Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bullion powder. You can use chicken stock cube if you prefer.
- For seasoning, I had used Laura Santini Umami Paste No. 5.
- I find that slicing garlic along its length is much more flavourful than in roundel. Not sure the reason why.
- For cheese, I went the Spanish way since I had Manchego in the fridge. It worked as well as goat’s cheese. Use any piquant cheese. A little bit is all you need.
- If there is any leftover, you can use it to stuff aubergines or add it in a soup.
A look at the vegetables I used for this Italian inspired quinoa.
Vegetables being cooked. Aren’t they a picture of health?!
This is the end result. Not sure why it photographed as yellow since the quinoa was white (as you can see from the photo at the top of this post).