Bloggees, I've been cooking up a storm lately! Bonus for you: I've been taking pics. You're shocked, I'm sure. I went to an event with coworkers a couple of weeks ago that aimed to mix food & art (ceramics to be precise) & community. The set up of the event (at 18 Reasons in the Mission) was that each of the three tables had the ingredients for one of three courses - but to get that course, you had to go to that table, interact with other people, and choose your own ingredients to piece together whatever sounded most delicious to you.
Well, I know I've talked about health on here before, and I've talked about cooking on here before, but for some reason this simple idea of combining fresh, basic ingredients really inspired me to take another look at my cooking habits to make them more straightforward and more healthy. Sometimes you don't even think about mixing certain flavors or textures or foods until someone shows you, and I think this dinner did exactly that - showed me some delicious combinations that I can't wait to play around with!
One of the "dishes" at 18 Reasons was a grains course and I tried to approximate my own version of it at home.
You'll need: - quinoa (I used red quinoa for color!) - garbanzo beans - pine nuts (pinole) - mint
Optional additions: - chili powder - ricotta cheese - honey
Come see how it turned out!
[Note: let me preface this by saying, I was just making this recipe up from memories of the dinner. For having made it up, I think it turned out really well! I did not, however, do the proper "toasting" method for the toasted quinoa, and I can't WAIT to try it again using these tricks I found on the interwebs. If you're making this dinner, do the professional method in that link - toasted quinoa is the best!]
Step 1: Soak/clean your quinoa according to this article. This is the point where I was cooking my quinoa, but apparently that was wrong, so don't do that.
Step 1.5: Chop your mint leaves while waiting. I plucked them off and chopped them horizontally to get some good, flat chunks!
Step 2: Toast your pine nuts. If you don't have a toaster oven, get one. Just kidding! But really, they're so handy... if you don't have a toaster oven, toasting them for about 5-10 minutes in your oven at a low temperature (300 degrees), or even stirring them around a sauté pan, would work just fine.
(Post-Toasting. Get it?)
Step 3: This is where I finished cooking my quinoa and fried it up a bit with some olive oil. You should be simply stirring your washed quinoa around a sauté pan until it lightly starts popping. Don't put as much as I did in the pan or you'll overcrowd the quinoa.
Isn't it nice that you can learn from my mistakes?
Step 4: Assemble the food-troops! Make sure you have your pine nuts and mint leaves ready.
Step 5: Heat up your garbanzo beans in a pan so they don't cool the dish when you add them - everything is better in this "recipe" served warm!
Step 6: Finish assembling - add the beans to the quinoa, mix the nuts and mint leaves on top, add a dash of sea salt (the bigger/flakier the better) and fresh cracked pepper, and you're done!
If you want to get really fancy (and even heartier, though this meal is very protein-heavy as is), you could add a dollop of thick ricotta cheese and a drizzle of honey to sweeten it up! You could also add chili flakes or ground chili to give it that extra kick.
This is fast becoming one of my go-to meals. I can't wait to try toasting quinoa and mixing it with other ingredients - though I think mint may be a new staple as well. Summer is a-comin, y'all! Mint and honey in everything!
Have you ever toasted quinoa before? If you try it, I'd love to know!