A Hamburger Today

Lunch Box: Make-Ahead Curried Coconut Quinoa with Shrimp and Basil

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[Photograph: Suzanne Lehrer]

While quinoa, a grain de rigeur these days, may work for me as part of a larger dish, I must confess: I find it to be somewhat boring and dry on its own. Knowing how healthy it is, however, I felt I should give it a fair shot in the spotlight. I wanted to make a quinoa dish that I would find exciting enough to eat at work, without immediately looking to the vending machine to fill any flavor quotas for dessert.

Although curry usually suggests long simmering and layers of flavors, I made a fast-tracked version with coconut milk, vegetable broth, garlic and curry powder by doubling the liquid for cooking quinoa, and then cooked the quinoa in the broth. The curry thickened while the grains soaked up the warm nutty flavors, and there was broth leftover to make this a saucier-than-the-usualy-dry quinoa side.

Shrimp cooks incredibly fast, and sort of feels like a treat if you bring it to work the next day (since chances are you wouldn't be putting it on your takeout chopped salad). Poaching the shrimp in the excess broth gives this dish a "pot to clean" count of only one, and the excess liquid also kept the quinoa from drying out when I reheated this for lunch the next day.

The result was a warm, comforting lunch, where the quinoa seemed to melt seamlessly into the curry. Quinoa, we may just get along after all.

About the Author: Suzanne Lehrer is a writer and recipe developer in New York and a recipe editor for Cooking Channel. When not curating her budding hot sauce collection, she puts her French Culinary Institute education to good use in kitchens all around town. On twitter and instagram @suzerbruiser

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