You know why I mostly post dessert recipes? Because when it comes to dinner I am always just on auto pilot. I look at what I have in the pantry and refrigerator and I make whatever comes to mind. It never occurred to me that it would be worth sharing until having a conversation with a friend who requested I put together some of my everyday recipes for her. Oh right, people like simple meals made with items that are generally on hand. I do too. Duh.
I am not fancy, I just found red quinoa at Trader Joes and decided we needed some. For those of you who are confused by the use of a grain on this blog (although Mr. H. and I have yet to discover what foods are truly a problem since everything seems problematic lately) quinoa is actually the seed of the Chenopodium or Goosefoot plant.
“The quinoa seed is high in protein, calcium and iron, a relatively good source of vitamin E and several of the B vitamins. It contains an almost perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids needed for tissue development in humans. It is exceptionally high in lysine, cystine and methionine-amino acids typically low in other grains. It is a good complement for legumes, which are often low in methionine and cystine. The protein in quinoa is considered to be a complete protein due to the presence of all 8 essential amino acids. Some types of wheat come close to matching quinoa’s protein content, but grains such as barley, corn, and rice generally have less than half the protein of quinoa. Quinoa is 12% to 18% protein and four ounces a day, about 1/2-cup, will provide a childs protein needs for one day. The 6-7% fat of quinoa is relatively high when compared to other grains, but it boasts a low sodium content and also provides valuable starch and fiber. Quinoa also contains albumen, a protein that is found in egg whites, blood serum, and many plant and animal tissues. The seeds are gluten-free which makes this a nutritious and flavorful alternative grain for those with gluten sensitivity. Quinoa would be a worthy addition to anyone’s diet, supplying variety as well as good nutrition. The seed is also excellent feed for birds and poultry and the plant itself is good forage for cattle.”
Just so ya know.
You can use any color quinoa here. The red is just pretty and different so I used that. As with many recipes I post, you can substitute your favorite oil, vegetables, and spices. It is fun because once I learned a little bit about cooking and baking I could take a standard recipe that we all would consider quite unhealthy, and adjust things here and there to create something that is delicious and nutritious! Once you understand what it is that a food does in a recipe, you can mix and match to your heart’s desire.
Now for the recipe.
(If you are vegan or vegetarian this dish is just as delicious sans meat, butter, and cheese. Just use oil in place of the butter, and leave out the cheese and meat.)
Also, this recipe makes enough food for four people for dinner, or for two with leftovers. If you don’t need that much food, just 1/2 the quinoa portion and use only one steak. The rest can remain the same.
Any Night Quinoa Stir Fry
For the quinoa:
2Tbsp grass-fed butter
1/3c chèvre (or soft mild cheese)
Begin by making your quinoa. Most packaged quinoa (like the kind from Trader Joes) doesn’t need to be rinsed prior to cooking since that is done before it is packaged, but you may do that if you would like.
Bring 4 cups of water, 2Tbsp butter and a pinch of salt to a boil. Add in 2 cups quinoa and bring to a boil again. Cover, reduce heat to med-high (I use the number 8) and set a timer for 12 minutes. After the timer goes off, leave lid on and remove from heat and set timer for another 10 minutes. After the second timer goes off your quinoa should have absorbed all the water. If that is not the case return to heat and simmer another few minutes. Also, you can use chicken stock for this which adds a nice flavor. Once your quinoa is cooked, transfer to a large bowl. Add in a few tablespoons of butter and 1/3c chèvre and mix until combined. Salt to taste. (Cooking the quinoa is a great time to chop your veggies in any way you wish.)
For the rest:
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large shallot sliced (or 1/2 onion of your choice)
4 small sweet peppers (or any bell pepper)
1 large carrot sliced lengthwise
1 celery stalk
2 handfuls fresh young kale (or any kale or hearty green of your choice)
butter (lots, do you know me at all?) OR oil of your choice
1Tbsp oil (I used toasted sesame from Trader Joes)
2 grass-fed steaks (I used NY steak)
parmesan for garnish (or if you are like me, for a heavy dusting)
Garlic powder or your favorite meat seasonings
salt and pepper to taste
I like to change up how I chop my vegetables so each meal feels fresh. Get your veggie pan nice and hot. Add in your oil, then about a tablespoon of the butter (I like to use both in a recipe like this because Sally Fallon does, and we are friends). Add in the onions, carrots, and celery. Watch the onions until they are slightly translucent and then clear a space in your pan and add the minced garlic and stir. The moment you smell the garlic add your peppers. Let those feel the heat for a few minutes and then toss in the kale and remove pan from heat. Stir the kale around for a moment and transfer vegetables to the bowl of waiting quinoa.
Since the meat is generally the fastest part of the cooking I wait until the end to cook it. Mostly that is because I have been trained (by Mr. H.) to be vigilant when it comes to not overcooking such incredible cuts of meat.
To cook the meat I like to use cast iron since it imparts such wonderful flavor. I get my pan really hot and then throw the meat on. When you hear it hit the pan and it sizzles, you know you’re good. Maybe your husband doesn’t watch you like a hawk during this portion and you can relax and trust your instincts. I, on the other hand, just stand there and nervously poke at the meat until it is done.
Slice your steaks along the grain into thin pieces.
Add the meat to the bowl of quinoa and vegetables.
Mix everything together and top with parmesan. This is one of those dishes you will want to make again and again, and depending on what you have on hand, it can become something new every time.
Now, go get cooking.