Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Chicken and Red Quinoa Stew

A couple of friends and I went to a discount natural food store recently. While there, I spotted some red quinoa. Quinoa is very good for you because it is a source of complete protein and has a balanced set of essential amino acids (according to the Wikipedia link).

I searched the internet for recipes because I wanted to do something different from the Quinoa and Black Beans recipe I normally make. I found a recipe for Crockpot Chicken and Red Quinoa at The Nourishing Gourmet. However, I did not want to cook this in the crockpot. So, I used their recipe and adapted it for the stove top.


1 cup red quinoa, rinsed
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups water
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon of salt
6 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 onion, minced
3 chicken breasts or thighs
2 Tablespoons butter

Take a second to admire the depth and beauty of this wholesome grain. It really is quite lovely!

Open the bottle of wine. I chose Willow Crest's Viognier for this. If you're anything like me you will also pour yourself a glass while you start cooking.

You will want to rinse the quinoa a few times. I did it probably four times. Doing this eliminates the bitterness that the grain can have.

Put a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the butter and wait for it to melt.

Once the butter is melted and hot, add the onions.

Next, add the carrots.

Finally, add the celery.

Stir everything together so the vegetables are coated with butter.

Keep stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes.

Now it's time to add the chicken. I used about 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this recipe. I cut the meat into about 1/2-inch pieces.

Add the quinoa to the pot.

Add the water and the wine (I measured them together in the same measuring cup).

Next, add the stock. If yours is frozen like mine, just put it in frozen. It'll melt and be just fine. Trust me!

The original recipe called for two teaspoons of thyme but I thought that might be a bit too much on the herbal side. I used one teaspoon.

And I used one teaspoon of sea salt as well.

Stir all together. When it comes to a boil, turn the heat to medium low. I let this simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the quinoa was tender.

Serve immediately.

I cannot express how delicious this was! A few household members had second helpings. Even the preschooler ate hers until it was gone. Also, it was very good the next day as lunch.

This recipe is definitely going into the regular rotation.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Spanish Rice with Soy Chorizo

A few months ago there was a clearance on chorizo at the grocery store. Despite my best intentions, I took a peek at the ingredients. Ever since then I have wanted to try the soy version. I often like the soy versions of meats. Yves Ground Round is a good thing in my house for lasagna, spaghetti, etc. I like making Taco Soup with soy "hamburger" instead of the real thing. It was with that spirit, then, that I picked up the soy chorizo from Trader Joe's the other night. Instead of just making eggs I wanted to make something a bit more substantial. Launching off the spanish rice I made a while back, I decided to make that and add the chorizo for more of a main dish feel.

Spanish Rice with Soy Chorizo

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 cup uncooked brown rice
2 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 14 1/2-oz. can whole tomatoes, undrained
1/2 tsp. saffron
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. thyme
16 oz. soy chorizo, casings removed and crumbled

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery. Sauté for 5 minutes, or until onion is transparent.

Add the rice; stir so it is coated with oil. Add the broth and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 35 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf. Stir in the tomato juice, the cut up tomatoes, the saffron, paprika, thyme, chorizo and stir. Cover and simmer until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes longer.


The stars of this meal are saffron (try Trader Joe's for affordable saffron) and a smoky Spanish paprika. My friend gave me this tin *cough*a few years ago*cough* and it is wonderfully smoky and still full of flavor.

Dice up the celery.

Dice up the onion.

Heat up the olive oil. It's a little more than 1 tablespoon but that's all right...

Once the oil is nice and hot, add the celery and onion to the pan.

After the onion is transparent and the vegetables are soft, it's time to add the rice. Stir the rice around so it's all coated with oil. I kept it in the pan for a couple of minutes prior to adding the broth.

Now add the broth. This was actually homemade turkey broth because I didn't have vegetable broth on hand but I didn't worry since no actual vegetarians were fed during this meal. If you have actual vegetarians you definitely want to be sure to use vegetable broth.

Drop the bay leaf in, cover, turn the heat to low, and simmer for about 35 minutes. You don't need to disturb it; just let the rice cook.

When it's getting close to the 35 minute mark, get your spices together. Pour some saffron in your hand and admire it for a little bit.

Take the casings off the soy chorizo. This is very important!!

After the rice has been cooking for 35 minutes, add the rest of the ingredients. First, the spices go in.

Next, drain the tomato liquid into the pan.

After that has been drained take kitchen shears or a knife and cut up the tomatoes.

Add the chorizo and stir. Cover it and let it cook for about 15 minutes more, or until the rice is tender.

Serve with sour cream (it is a little on the spicy side!).

This was delicious! Everyone except the preschooler and me had seconds. I was surprised my middle child loved it but he did! Mr. Mary Cooks, for his second helping, put the rice mixture into a tortilla and said he liked it that way.

I'm happy this was a hit and I'll definitely make this again. I think the Spanish rice was great, too, and a good keeper for a rice dish from scratch vs. out of a box. Sure, it takes a little more time but it is so worth it because you know what your family is getting.