A few years ago I discovered quinoa (aka. the “super-grain”) and since then I’ve eaten it on a regular basis, mixing it with just about every condiment and ingredient you can imagine.
It’s light yet hearty, packed with protein, and has a low glycemic index. It does have a bitter tasting coating so it is needs to be soaked in water for a few hours then rinsed before cooking. Having said that, it has become a hot commodity nowadays and is easily found pre-rinsed (such as Bob’s Red Mill) so always check package labels before purchasing.
This “recipe” was actually not an intended one! I must have pulled a “When in Rome Do as the Romans Do” when I thought this one up. I’m sure I had leftover lentils in the fridge (that needed to be consumed asap) and since I love middle-eastern flavours I added cumin and cinnamon (my favourite spices!) along with the caramelized onions.
Basically, what started out as a “let’s throw everything together and see how it turns out” experiment ended up becoming one of my (and my son’s!) fave meals! It takes a bit of preparation time but if you make enough for leftovers it’s well worth the time. You can store the leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.
(Makes about 1 cup)
1 tbsp. golden raisins
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup quinoa
1 cup homemade vegetable broth (or water)
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup canned lentils
salt and pepper to taste (optional-I omit these when preparing for my son)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil (or 1 tbsp. if omitting butter)
1 tsp. butter (optional)
1 tsp. brown rice syrup (or sweetener of choice)
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
In a small bowl, mix raisins and 1/2 cup of warm water and let sit for 5-7 minutes to soften the raisins. *TIP: Remember to squeeze out all excess liquid before adding to the quinoa (and chop finely, if desired).
Add water to a small pan and bring to a boil. Add quinoa, cumin, and cinnamon then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
I usually prefer my quinoa “al dente” (just like my pasta!) but when I prepare it for my son I usually cook it a few minutes longer until it is somewhat mushy, which makes it easier for him to eat. If the quinoa is still too “al dente” after cooking for 15 minutes just add a few tablespoons of water at a time and cook down until the water evaporates and the quinoa is soft.
In a separate small pan, heat oil and butter on medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add chopped onions and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add vinegar and brown rice syrup then reduce heat to simmer. Cook covered, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes or until the onions are very soft and translucent.
Add caramelized onions, raisins, and lentils to the quinoa and mix until combined. This dish can be served warm or at room temperature.
You can also pack on the protein by adding some shredded chicken or beef or garnish with with toasted slivered almonds for added texture.
“DID YOU KNOW…?”
For many centuries, lentils were considered to be “the poor man’s meat.” In Catholic countries, those who couldn’t afford fish would eat lentils during Lent instead. Lentils are high in protein which make them a favourite among vegetarians. Also, they are easily digested and do not require soaking, unlike many other legumes.