Drink more water, eat more vegetables, and try cooking new ingredients - these are three of our resolutions for the new year. We decided to start the year off right by heading to one of our favorite Indian spice shops in the city, Dual, and buying a few ingredients we have never used before.
Amongst our purchases was a bag of red quinoa. Quinoa is an edible seed that is full of protein. It has less carbohydrates than rice and, when cooked, has a light, fluffy texture that makes it a good substitute for couscous or rice.
Our meal inspirations: We were lucky to receive a few bottles of Veen water that we wanted to pop (actually, just unscrew) open for our healthy dinner. Veen water is a Finnish brand of premium bottled water that comes in both still and sparkling varieties. We love their award-winning sleek glass bottle design and especially its clean, natural taste.
Our other meal inspiration was the small verrine of red quinoa salad with squash and beets at our nearby Le Pain Quotidien. The small dish was simple but satisfying. Quinoa has a wonderfully nutty taste so all we needed to do was just cook the quinoa and add vegetables for a tasty meal.
Warm Red Quinoa with Vegetables
1 cup red quinoa
1 onion, diced
2 dried chili peppers
1 Tbsp canola oil
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups (1 can) vegetable broth
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Thoroughly rinse the red quinoa. This was the most difficult step as the quinoa is very small. Use a cheesecloth or a paper towel-lined sieve to more easily rinse and drain the quinoa. It's important to rinse these seeds to remove is bitter coating.
2. Heat oil in pan on med-high heat and then add the red chili peppers to it. This will flavor the oil (and thus, the dish) with a subtle spicy flavor.
3. Add the garlic and onions to the pan. Brown them.
4. Add the rinsed quinoa and toast them for a couple minutes.
5. Add the broth, chopped vegetables, and season with salt and pepper. Put a lid on top of the pan to trap the steam and let it simmer on low heat for about 10-15 minutes (or until liquid has been absorbed).
6. Remove the chili peppers and serve. The quinoa is done when you see a small, white curl come from the seeds.
And, of course, this warm, hearty dish went well with our glasses of water! We also had a lot of leftovers and enjoyed this dish cold the next day.