recipe re-do: quinoa - a passing fad?

fads are everywhere. home. fashion. and yes - even food.
who could forget the great "make your own baby food" fad....wait that still around.
and the "farm to table " fad...hang on that's kicking around too.

well maybe there is something to say about fads.

the latest, i find, is about ancient grains. embracing grains other than the cherished rice and couscous {yet another "fad" that stuck.}

so i decided to stick my neck out and inquire - what's so great about quinoa? why is everyone head over heels for it? i put this question out on facebook - bluntly asking if i was in fact that last person around to try the stuff. the answer was a resounding YES!

i was trolling the aisles of costco the following day and found what i thought was a years supply of the famous grain {i have since come to realize it is a month's worth.} and gave it a try.

the first time i made it it was okay. just okay. i boiled it to the package directions and served it along side chicken. okay. i do see the appeal and it's a good sub for rice because it states it has protein and is good for you. tony asked if it was good for him, i told him yes and then he replied with, "okay if it's good for me i will get it down." shinning endorsement right there.

i decided to take a step back and re-examine my approach. i was schooled in getting coop to eat steamed broccoli by a friend of mine earlier that week - he ate hers, not mine - and the one thing she did different was seasoning. so i made the quinoa like how i make my fancy rice - chicken stock and onions. bingo.

new staple.

two saturdays ago i was enjoying my morning coffee and checking our rachel ray's new show about cooking one day for five. usually not my thing and she tends to do things to high fat for me but it caught my attention because she was talking about grains. then she was talking about obesity and getting out of the rut. i was listening. then she made what looked like the best hot salad i think i would ever put in my mouth.

i was right.

i decided at the end of the day to use her "recipe" as a base and go from there. all i knew of it was what i saw and could remember. it started with making the grain, then in another pan sauteeing together red onion, rasped garlic and lemon zest. instantly i was hooked. she had some other fancy things in there i did not have. i purposely went and got kale - a new favorite - and yes i did splerg on the mushrooms but didn't use as many as her at all. did i need to spend $5 on 6 shiitake shrooms? hmm - maybe not. would portabello's have been a good choice? probably. was it lacking in flavour because i have only the cremini and shiitake mushrooms and not the hen of the woods variety as well? well you be the judge.

seriously - i want to know how much you love it.
cause i know you are going to.

jen's fancy quinoa

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 a medium onion, diced
i cup un-cooked quinoa
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
freshly ground pepper

add your olive oil to a medium saucepan and heat over medium-low heat. add your onions. grind some pepper on them {you always want to season!} and sautee till translucent about 3 to 4 mins. add your quinoa and toss around with the onions while sauteeing them a little. then add your broth, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and steam for about 15 mins {according to your package}, let sit fo 5 mins then fluff with a fork and devour!!

hot mushroom and quinoa salad
did you know that you have to strip the kale leaves from the stalks before preparing? i did not. 
thank you rachael for that. 

one recipe of Jen's fancy quinoa {above}
1 and a half pounds mixed mushrooms
1/3 cup ev olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or i like to use a microplane right over the pan
1/2 red onion diced
zest of one lemon
one bunch of kale, stripped and coarsely chopped
kosher salt and pepper
the juice of half the lemon you zested
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

first things first, get those mushrooms in the oven! preheat it to 450 degrees and spread your mushrooms out on a sheet pan. drizzle with about 1/4 cup of the olive oil, sprinkle with the thyme and toss it together to coat.  grate some pepper over top and pop it in your heated oven. they usually take about 20 minutes to get all roasted and earthy.

meanwhile, after you made your quinoa, heat a deep skillet over medium low heat. add the remaining olive oil and once it's a little hot add your onions. get them nice and translucent then add your garlic {i grate mine right over} and zest your lemon right into the pan. heat this slowly on the stove {don't burn the garlic!} and just for a moment lose yourself in the aroma......okay snap out of it!
add your kale to the pan and let it wilt over top. season with some salt and pepper. once wilted remove from heat and fold in your quinoa. set aside.

toast the nuts in a small skillet till brown and fragrant.

once the mushrooms are done you are ready to assemble. first place your quinoa mixture into your serving dish, squeeze your half lemon over top, next spoon on your roasted mushrooms and, last but not least, top with your toasted almonds. voila!

this can be eated hot, room temperature or even the next day straight out of the fridge!

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