Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Who Knew? A Quinoa Dish I Enjoy

Quinoa, that ancient grain that is supposed to be so good for us, has been on my radar screen for a while. I've tried it a couple of times but found it bland and weird looking.

Who knew that Big Sis would have a recipe (not so great photo below) using Trader Joe's frozen Quinoa Duo with Vegetable Melange... a product of France!...that I just love. It starts with portobello mushrooms, those big, lucious, 'meaty' brown mushrooms that had super dark gills that need to be removed before using. The de-gilled and de-stemmed portobellos are then marinated in a balsamic mixture, then grilled, then stuffed with the quinoa mixture (which has been microwaved) for a super easy, delicious, slightly spicy and perfectly satisfying meatless meal. I served fresh-from-the-garden Black Krim heirloom tomatoes (photo at top), sliced and given nothing more than a grinding of black pepper. They were heavenly! Some seeded sourdough bread filled out the menu.

So what is in this quinoa mixture? Both red and white quinoa, zucchini, sweet potato, olive oil, tomato sauce, onions, galangal, spices, soy sauce, hot pepper, carrots, leeks, garlic, herbs, lemon juice and some salt and sugar. I could probably make my own, especially at this time of year, but it sure is handy to have it ready to go once microwaved.

The marinade for the mushrooms included olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red wine and both fresh oregano and fresh thyme.

We have been busy getting ready for a visit from Captain Jack and his sweetie. The airobed sprung a leak while we were setting it up which slowed things down. I tracked down some night lights to help with the trek up the stairs to the bedroom, plus brought up some flowers from the garden for R. It will be something like 3 am their time by the time we get home from the airport tonight, so I want them to feel welcome and be able to just fall into bed.

I probably won't be posting too much for a few days while we do some visiting and sight seeing with them. Au revoir. In the meantime do try this dish!

Mushrooms Stuffed with Quinoa and Vegetables

1. Remove the gills from 3-4 portobello mushrooms and put them in a ziplock bag with the marinade (either balsamic vinegar alone or a balsamic vinaigrette:
2 - 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
Mix all ingredients in the zip lock bag. Add the mushrooms. Zip bag closed. Lay flat, turn now and then so that the marinade soaks both sides of the mushrooms).

2. Leave mushrooms to marinate at room temperature for an hour or so (or as long as you have time for).

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or preheat the grill ;-)

4. Cook frozen quinoa mix in microwave according to directions. (In my frugal style, I usually dice up the mushroom stems and add them to the quinoa before cooking it.)

5. Line a baking pan with foil and remove mushrooms from marinade and put open side up on foil.

6. Fill mushrooms with quinoa and bake until heated through (20 minutes or so). Or for the grill option I used,  grill the mushrooms for about 10 minutes per side, fill with hot quinoa mixture and serve! The taste of the grilled version is superior by far. The quinoa mixture fills 3-4 portobello mushrooms.

Serve at once.


  1. Oh, Elle! I didn't give you my quinoa salad recipe!??

    I NEVER really cared for it, either, but this? THIS is the food of the gods... some gods or other...
    Quinoa Salad with Orange & Avocado

    ½ tsp kosher salt
    1 C. quinoa, rinsed well
    2 oranges, peeled, chopped
    6 scallions (white part only) chopped
    2 avocados, chopped
    2 TBSP cilantro, minced
    1 TBSP rice vinegar
    1/3 C. extra-virgin olive oil (evoo)
    Juice of two limes
    Freshly ground pepper, kosher salt to taste

    • Pour 1 ¾ C of water into a 1 qt. saucepan, add your salt, and bring to a boil.
    • Rinse the quinoa vigorously in a strainer. When the water comes to a boil, stir in your quinoa, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until water is fully absorbed, and grain is translucent. This should take about twenty minutes. You can also cook the quinoa in a rice cooker, using a 2:1 liquid to quinoa ratio.
    • Remove quinoa from heat, and let it rest for five minutes before turning it into a large salad bowl, and fluffing with a fork. Let it cool to room temperature, so it will remain fluffy!
    • Add the oranges, avocado, cilantro, and scallions to the quinoa. Toss thoroughly.
    • In a small bowl, mix together lime juice, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and olive oil. Dress the salad, and serve.

  2. Tanita, That DOES sound like a great recipe! Will have to try it. Imagine two great quinoa recipes...I may become a convert after all :)

  3. My objection to quinoa is the price. It's so expensive! But this dish looks awfully good, Elle! I think I should take out a loan at the bank and go to get some quinoa to try it.

  4. Yes, please DO try Tanita's recipe - it's awesome, and it only gets better when you tuck it into the fridge overnight. The citrus keeps the avocados from going brown, and it's just fabulous!

  5. WOW, I think I have everything on hand to try this one - even quinoa already cooked ;-) Dinner tonight!