After I graduated from college, I lived in London for a year and a half. I learned to make a really spicy curry dish and ate curried eggs or shrimp often. A short time after Ken and I were married, I wanted to show off my skills,(I’m talking about cooking here!) so I made him a dish using lots of spices for dinner. He took a bite, swallowed, gasped and ran to the sink, turned on the faucet and stuck his tongue into the running water. After a moment, he turned off the water and demanded, “Are you trying to kill me?” So much for the honeymoon! He grew up with a bland diet and the shock of the heavy spices was too much for his palate.
Because of this, for more than 30 years he has always said he doesn’t like curry. However, now and then I sneak it into dishes to test the water. When I made this spicy quinoa for him, he loved it and didn’t detect foul play.
This is a dish I modified from Allrecipes.com submitted by “Cinderella.” I changed a number of ingredients, but what appealed to me was the blend of Mediterranean and Indian flavors. What Ken liked was the variety of textures with crunchy pine nuts and sweet golden raisins, along with the subtle blend of spices.
Although this is a side dish, with a few modifications, (like adding some cooked chicken or shrimp) it could easily become a main dish.
Let’s chat a moment about quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah). According to the “Food Lover’s Companion,” a dictionary of culinary terms, quinoa is being hailed as a “supergrain of the future” because it’s high in protein and lower in carbs than other grains. Quinoa is “considered a complete protein because it contains all eight essential amino acids.” That all sounds good, but how does it taste? Well, like rice or other grains, it’s bland and needs other foods to lift it up to the yummy level. And like rice, it’s so versatile you can use it as a side dish, main dish, soup, dessert or in breads. Because it’s fairly new to the American market, it’s still more expensive than rice, but with the added health benefits, I think it’s worth it. And the small, pearl-like little balls are very easy to cook, so it’s no more trouble than rice.
1 cup pine nuts, toasted lightly
1 TBS olive oil
1/2 medium size onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 cup quinoa – uncooked
2 1/2 cups water or chicken stock
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper (or black)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup golden raisins (or regular)
In a medium sized pan, pour the water or chicken stock and quinoa. If you use water, you may want to add two chicken bullion cubes for added flavor. Cook about 20 minutes until done. Set aside.
In a frying pan, place the pine nuts over medium heat and lightly toast about 3-4 minutes. (No oil needed.)
Pour the pine nuts into a bowl after they’re toasted.
Pour olive oil into the pan over medium heat.
Add red pepper and onion and saute for 3-5 minutes.
Add cooked quinoa, the spices, pine nuts and raisins. Toss to combine.
Serve warm or cold (like a pasta salad).
Spicy Quinoa is another recipe that you can experiment with and change the spices to your taste. If your regular grocery store doesn’t carry quinoa, check a health food store. If you don’t have pine nuts, slivered almonds would happily stand in for them. Play with your food. Life’s a journey.