Last time it was farro; now it's quinoa. My wife is doing all she can to introduce healthier foods into my diet. I'm up for the challenge, as long as the ingredients I use still taste good and don't just act as vehicles for a bunch of vegetables that don't taste like much on their own. Whatever I cook should be valued first for its flavor, and then for how good it is for me. Often, you can make those two goals work in tandem; it's just that once you move "tastes great" out of first place and replace it with "healthy," it's all downhill.
Fortunately, I was really impressed with quinoa: It was nutty, fluffy, and tender. Though it looks like little pieces of brown cous cous and tastes like some kind of grain, it's actually a seed. Unlike most grains, it's a complete protein. I found this recipe in the January issue of Martha Stewart Living, which stirs in a highly flavorful mixture of Swiss chard and mushrooms to the cooked quinoa and tops it with shaves of Parmesan.
There's no doubt that it's good for you—but that doesn't mean it has to taste like sawdust.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound Swiss chard, chopped
- Small pinch red pepper flakes (to taste)
- 1 clove garlic, sliced
- 12 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1/2 ounce Parmesan shavings (carefully use a vegetable peeler)
Combine the quinoa is a saucepan with 2 cups water with a good pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 10-15 minutes until the quinoa is fluffy and tender.
In the meantime, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chard and red pepper flakes and cook until wilted and tender, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove to a plate.
Add the remaining oil into the skillet and add the garlic over medium heat. When it is slightly golden, add the mushrooms. When they release their moisture, about 3 minutes, season with a pinch of salt and pepper. When they are tender, about 5 minutes, stir in the reserved chard and the thyme and heat through. Stir in the quinoa and divide among 4 bowls or plates. Top with shaved Parmesan.