It may be a New Year, but it’s the same old Mother Nature that is with us. And someone once said that every weather proverb bearing the whiskers of age holds a grain of truth.
According to ancient Saxon lore, the trend of the year’s weather is influenced by the day of the week on which January 1 falls. This year January 1 falls on a Saturday; therefore a snowy winter, blowy spring and rainy summer are predicted.
Everything old is new again—this holds true not only in weather but also in clothes and food. Every time the economy gets shaky, we get nostalgic for non-shaky times. There’s a craving for the good old days—a need for comfort from the past. In clothes, gingham shirts, bomber jackets and the gray blazer are coming back in men’s wear, and for the women, black-framed glasses, boxy handbags, chunky sweaters and flirty aprons.
And in the food line there’s a strong, growing culinary evolution, the farm-to-table movement. Chefs and home cooks alike are increasingly returning to farms, local producers and farmer’s markets to buy their food. It’s really all about getting back to basics, closer to the way previous generations ate.
One example is quinoa (pronounced keenwa). About the size and color of sesame seeds, this staple of the ancient Inca Indians in Peru is enjoying new popularity. It can be used in any recipe calling for rice.
Quinoa has a light texture and almost sweet flavor. Unlike other grains, quinoa is a complete protein, and a high source of iron and essential amino acids. It rivals milk for calcium content. That is why it has been called “the mother grain.”
Tiny and bead-shaped, ivory-colored quinoa cooks like rice, taking half the time, and expands to four times its original volume.
It is truly a must for all RV kitchen shelves.
QUINOA VEGETABLE PILAF
2 tablespoons of finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons of chopped carrots
1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil
1/4 cup of uncooked jasmine rice
1/4 cup of quinoa, rinsed
1 cup of chicken broth
Dash of pepper
1/3 cup of chopped fresh broccoli
In a small pan, sauté onions and carrots in oil until tender. Add rice and quinoa; stir to coat. Stir in broth and pepper.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15-20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, adding the broccoli during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Remove from the heat; let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Serves two.
QUINOA WILTED SPINACH SALAD
1 cup of quinoa, rinsed
2 cups of water
1 pkg. (6-oz.) of fresh baby spinach, torn
1/2 cup of dried cranberries
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of orange juice
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Dash of pepper
1 scallion, finely chopped
1/2 cup of chopped pecans, toasted
In a small pan, bring quinoa and water to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 12-15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat; fluff with fork. Cover and let stand 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the warm quinoa, spinach and cranberries.
For dressing, in a small bowl whisk the oil, orange juice, vinegar, maple syrup, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir in scallion. Pour over quinoa mixture; toss to coat. Sprinkle with pecans and serve.
RED BEAN AND QUINOA ENCHILADAS
7-oz. can of chopped green chilies
1 cup of cooked quinoa
3/4 cup of canned red beans
1/2 cup of baked butternut or acorn squash
1/2 cup of corn
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 or 2 chopped canned jalapenos
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1/4 teaspoon of coriander
Chile powder and salt to taste
28-oz. can of fire-roasted whole tomatoes
12 corn tortillas
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups of grated sharp cheese
Mash half of the chilies and all of the quinoa, beans and squash together in a mixing bowl with potato masher; blend in corn, salt and cilantro.
Heat oil in heavy skillet over medium heat; add onion and jalapenos. Stir, reduce heat, cover and sweat onions until they’re transparent. Remove lid, add garlic, cumin, coriander, chili powder and salt. Stir and cook on medium-low heat 15 minutes, adding a little water if mixture gets too dry. Remove lid, add tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes. Let cool while you prepare tortillas.
Brush one side of each tortilla with oil. Lay tortillas on a baking sheet and bake in preheated 350-degree oven 5 minutes. Reverse sides, brush with oil and cook until softened. Pour sauce in a baking pan. Remove tortillas from oven. Dip both sides in the sauce. Spread 3 tablespoons of the quinoa-squash filling down the middle of each tortilla. Fold the sides over and turn the tortilla over so the seam side is down. Continue with each tortilla. Spread leftover filling over rolled tortillas. Sprinkle tortillas with cheese and remaining chilies. Pour remaining sauce over all. Cover and bake 25 minutes. Serves six.
SAVORY QUINOA AND PECAN PILAF
1 cup of quinoa
1 3/4 cup of stock
1/2 teaspoon of dried sage
1/4 teaspoon of dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt to taste
1/2 cup of lightly toasted, chopped pecans
1/2 cup of finely chopped parsley
Rinse quinoa; dry roast it in heavy skillet over medium heat until the grains have dried and are slightly toasted. Heat stock, sage, marjoram, thyme and red pepper flakes in saucepan. Bring to a boil, add quinoa, reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes or until quinoa is done.
While quinoa cooks, heat a skillet over medium heat; add oil, onion, celery and carrots. Stir, reduce heat, cover and sweat 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Remove lid, add garlic, stir and cook until onions are caramelized. When quinoa is done, remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Combine quinoa and vegetables; season with salt to taste. Just before serving, blend in toasted pecans and parsley. Serves six.
There’s no telling what the future holds, but we should heed the warning and hope for the best while preparing for the worst—and in preparing be sure to put that bag of quinoa onto your RV kitchen shelf.
HINT OF THE MONTH: Quinoa should be thoroughly rinsed to remove a natural bitter coating on the grains.
Marian Platt is a food writer who lives in Sequim, Washington.Research Campgrounds, Plan RV Safe Routes & Turn your phone into an RV GPS.
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