Quinoa is a seed that is a staple diet in parts of South America. In recent years it has become popular in other parts of the world having been touted as a so-called superfood and is supposed to have various health benefits. That is all fine with me, but I like it because it tastes good. If you have never tried it, give it a go, you’ll find it has a slightly nutty flavour and unusual texture. And if you don’t like it so much or just haven’t got any in the cupboard you could always try this recipe with couscous or bulgar wheat.
This recipe is one that I dreamt up in the Zanzaneet Kitchen for a quick supper some years ago. Quinoa was a new ingredient to me so I didn’t have any traditional recipes to draw inspiration from. I basically took a look at the veggies I happened to have in the fridge at the time and came up with this combination. Some such dishes are cooked once never to be repeated but this one turned out to be a big hit with me and the husband, so I made a note of the ingredients and it’s been a regular for us ever since.
Quinoa itself is highly nutritious but fairly bland. So I start by frying an onion, garlic and chilli along with mild Indian spices. A few tasty veggies, broccoli roasted in the oven, flame-roasted peppers and courgette give it body and flavour. A luxurious dollop of creamy Greek yoghurt adds a touch of tartness. Finally, a garnish of toasted almonds and sweet juicy pomegranate seeds create an alluring mix of textures.
Quinoa with red peppers and broccoliCourse: MainCuisine: Fusion, Indian, MediterraneanDifficulty: Easy
2 large Romano peppers
200g quinoa (white, red or a mixture as you wish)
olive oil for shallow frying
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon of coriander seeds (roughly crushed in a pestle and mortar)
1-6 fresh green chillies (according to taste) chopped
1 large white onion finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic finely chopped
200g broccoli cut into small florets
1 fresh pomegranate
a handful of chopped fresh coriander leaves
30g flaked almonds
100g greek yoghurt
salt to taste
- First, prepare the peppers. Wash them and then blacken the skins over a gas flame (you could use a kitchen blow torch if you have one). The skins should be partly charred and blistered but the flesh should not be cooked through. Place the peppers inside a lidded container and set them aside to cool off.
- Boil the quinoa according to the instructions on the packet.
- Whilst the quinoa is cooking open the pomegranate and carefully extract the seeds. Set the seeds to one side and discard the skin and pith.
- In a stir-fry pan heat the oil over a medium heat. When the oil is hot add the cumin and coriander seeds and cook for a minute or until they start to brown (but be careful not to burn them).
- Add the onion and garlic and fry until it starts to take a little colour.
- Add the broccoli and stir fry over a medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes. If you prefer your broccoli well done you can add a spoon full of water and leave the lid on for a couple of minutes to generate some steam.
- Whilst the broccoli is cooking remove the blackened skin from the peppers and chop roughly.
- Toast the almond flakes in a dry pan until lightly browned. Don’t take your eye off them, they burn in seconds.
- Add the fresh coriander, cooked peppers and drained quinoa to the pan and give it a good toss to mix it all together with the other ingredients.
- Serve in warm plates, add a dollop of yoghurt. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds and almond flakes on top. Enjoy with a glass of your preferred beverage.
- Take care when extracting the seeds from the pomegranate. Open it carefully and separate the seeds from the pith inside the fruit. If you have an apron then I won’t judge you for wearing it, but whatever you do, don’t wear your favourite white t-shirt, I find that pomegranate juice is strangely attracted to white clothing and stains can be tricky to remove.
- The peppers in this recipe are roasted over a flame to blacken the skin before allowing them to cool and peel. This process is a bit of a pain but it really brings out a sweetness and flavour intensity so I think it’s worth it. But if you don’t have time then you could always just stir-fry them.
- I love broccoli. It’s something I didn’t really get to taste until coming to the UK so it tends to feature in a lot of my cooking. I know it’s commonly eaten steamed or lightly boiled. I think it tastes even better when steamed and then sautéed or oven-baked with a drizzle of olive oil. This really brings out a whole new set of flavours for me.