Thursday, March 19, 2009

Quinoa with Chickpeas, Vegetables and Feta

I thought I should balance out Mel's non-vegetarian dish with something new I created tonight. I had a bunch of vegetables lying around and thought this might make a nice light meal with some quinoa. Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) is an ancient food that is not yet well known in North America. It has been cultivated in South American Andes since at least 3,000 B.C. and has been a staple food of millions of native inhabitants. The ancient Incas called quinoa the "mother grain" and revered it as sacred. My quinoa recipe turned out really colorful and hearty enough that it didn't really need a side dish.

I have been reading a few vegetarian cookbooks (Vegetarian Suppers and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison) that taught me how to cook these grains. These books are really helpful when it comes to the basics of vegetarian cooking. They show how to create virtually anything just like a basic Betty Crocker cookbook would. So far, the vegetarian month has gone easier than expected. I dont' feel that it has changed our lifestyle all that much. Besides the occasional cheeseburger craving, (after almost three weeks), I don't really even want or desire meat anymore. I don't think that this will result in full-blown vegetarianism at the end of this month, but more serve as an eye opener as to what else there is out there to cook besides meat-centered meals. On another side note, I have been reading a book called The China Study which proclaims that for better overall health and less chances of cancer and other diseases, that humans should make meat proteins less than 10% of their diet- more on that later.


2 cups vegetable broth
olive oil
1 cup quinoa
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 a white onion, diced
1/2 cup asparagus tips
1 zucchini, diced
1 can chickpeas
1/4 cup grape tomatoes
1/8 cup kalamata olives
1/8 cup pine nuts
1 bunch watercress, diced
feta cheese for topping
salt, pepper, fennel seeds, oregano, cayenne to taste

Boil vegetable broth in small sauce pan. Add quinoa, turn down, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, sautee onion and garlic in large fry pan. After a few minutes, add asparagus, zucchini and chickpeas. When quinoa is almost cooked, add remaining ingredients to heat and season to taste. Pour cooked quinoa over vegetable mixture, stir well and season to taste. Serve topped with a little feta cheese.

Serves 4.

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