I Love You & Ru

The pressure was on to create a fun, memorable Ru Night when it fell on Valentine’s Day. I decided to let Casablanca inspire me and cook Moroccan even though I’ve never eaten, much less cooked the cuisine. I knew that I wanted something stew-like and that I was going to replace couscous with quinoa. Couscous bores me and I was dying to try the red quinoa that I bought at Trader Joe’s in Albuquerque. I found the perfect recipe on Epicurious: Quinoa with Moroccan Winter Squash and Carrot Stew. I love butternut squash, but I subbed in garbanzo beans for the protein and convenience. I also excluded saffron, as I didn’t have any on hand. I was in a hurry, so I made plain quinoa.

The result of the night was a success! There was a good energy and everyone brought something delicious. We had hummus, a veggie tray, a Greek salad, box wine, pomegranate wine, chocolate covered strawberries, and some amazing homemade red velvet cupcakes with coconut frosting. At first, we were a little scared of the quinoa. Some thought it looked like little bugs, but after everyone got past the appearance, they really enjoyed it. We even exchanged Valentine’s cards. My favorites were Olivia, Justin Bieber, and Hello Kitty. : )

In case you’re unfamiliar, quinoa is a whole grain common in South America. It’s sometimes referred to as the supergrain because it’s high in fiber, iron, and contains all of the 8 essential amino acids. I love it because it cooks in 10-15 minutes, and has a nutty, earthy flavor with a unique texture that has a slight crunch.

I haven’t seen red quinoa in El Paso, but the plain beige colored quinoa is available here. You can find quinoa at Sun Harvest, Cielo Vista Natural Market, Albertson’s, and possibly Walmart. It can be expensive, but goes a long way. Sun Harvest sells it the cheapest in their bins and you can buy as little or as much as you want in case you don’t like it.

Plain quinoa & red quinoa

Find the original Epicurious recipe here.

This stew is versatile; use any combination of veggies, legumes, and grains that you like or need to get rid of.

Moroccan Chickpea Stew with Quinoa

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tsp. Hungarian sweet paprika
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. cayenne pepper

1 cup water
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes (I further diced them; I don’t like big chunks of canned tomato)
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 cups chickpeas/garbanzo beans (or 2 15 oz. cans)
1-2 small zucchinis, cut into ¾ inch cubes
2 cups carrots, peeled and cut into ¾ inch cubes

1 cup quinoa

1 ¾ cup vegetable broth (I use 1 Rapunzel brand Vegetable No Salt Added bouillon cube)
½ tsp. salt (omit if using stock/broth that contains sodium)

For stew:
Heat oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion; sauté until soft, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Mix in paprika and next 8 ingredients. Add 1 cup water, tomatoes, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Add chickpeas, zucchini, and carrots. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

For quinoa:
Rinse quinoa; drain. Place quinoa and water or broth in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes. The quinoa is ready when the germ ring is visible along the outside edge of the grain. Season with salt and pepper.

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