Friday, September 18, 2015

Foodie Fridays: Quinoa with Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli, and Marcona Almonds

As the weather cools down and fall approaches, I find myself wanting to cook with foods more appropriate to the season.  Sweet potatoes and broccoli are two of my favorite cool weather vegetables, and I found a recipe that incorporates both of them in a quinoa salad, similar to a pasta or rice salad.  Of course I changed it up quite a bit, as the original recipe had very little seasoning.

Quinoa, like pasta or rice, tends to absorb and dilute any added flavors, so I tried to heavily season the vegetable mixture before adding the quinoa (keep this in mind when tasting the vegetables for seasoning; they should taste over-seasoned until the quinoa is added).  I tend to keep salt to a minimum, so you may wish to increase the amount, although if you use Marcona almonds (usually available in most grocery stores now) remember that they are salty.

Next time I may add some dried cranberries for an added sweet and tart flavor, but even without them this is a satisfying and tasty side dish (or even main dish for me).  This is also one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day, served cold, at room temperature, or slightly warmed.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Quinoa with Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli, and Marcona Almonds

2 C. water
1 C. quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 T. coconut oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 canned chipotle in abobo sauce, diced, plus 2 T. sauce
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 large cooked sweet potato, peeled and diced
1/4 tsp. salt
2 C. cooked broccoli florets, roughly chopped
1/4-1/2 C. chicken or vegetable stock if needed (I used unsalted)
6 oz. Marcona almonds, roughly chopped

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add the quinoa, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook until the quinoa is tender, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft.  Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.  Add the next four ingredients and cook to heat through.  Stir in the broccoli, and add stock if the mixture seems dry.  Taste for seasoning and add salt as needed.

Toss the quinoa with the vegetable mixture in a large bowl.  Stir in the almonds and any oil they may have been packed in.  Taste again for seasonings and add salt as needed.  Let sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.  Serves 4-6.

Notes: Instead of one onion, I used some leftover vegetables I had in the fridge, which included half of an onion and two each of pimento peppers and small Japanese eggplants from my "garden" (actually just a couple of large wooden containers strategically placed to get as much sun as possible on our overly shady property).  Anything goes here as long as you include some onion in the mix.

I will always take a shortcut when prepping vegetables, and in this case I used microwaveable sweet potatoes in a bag (three small ones from a bag of six gave me just the right amount).  The broccoli was also in a microwaveable bag, and I used about half the bag, leaving me some leftover cooked broccoli for another meal.

Since I am a hot pepper wimp, I only used one chipotle, but if you like heat increase the amount to suit your preference.  If you cannot find Marcona almonds, any nuts will do (next time I may try cashews), but you may need to add a bit more salt and possibly a little olive oil if you use unsalted and/or dry-roasted nuts.

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