Quinoa – my new favourite ingredient Reply

When you have to live with gluten and wheat intolerance, finding alternatives to bread and pasta is fairly easy. But one of my favourite foods is cous cous and I know that eating too much of this definitely aggravates me. I am just a bit ‘sensitive’ and nothing like as bad as Zac, so I still let myself eat if from time to time and often wish I hadn’t.

I had heard about quinoa and have seen it on the shelves for a while but wasn’t too sure on how to cook it and use it. There is a great definition of it on the BBC Good Food website and it backs up what I had heard – it is a ‘superfood’ and extremely easy to digest. So just what I was looking for. Even though Tom and I don’t share Zac’s problem, we are keen to find ways to eat better ourselves and always looking to try new things. http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/content/knowhow/glossary/quinoa/

Then I saw some in Sainsbury’s the other day that was ‘microwave’ in the pack and decided to give it a go. I didn’t want to buy too much or go to any great effort in case we didn’t like it. I am happy to say it was absolutely delicious and I am now going to be looking for more recipes where was can use it in other ways and perhaps entice Zac. He likes rice, so I hope it won’t be too much of a jump for him!

The packet I bought was Red & White Quinoa made by Merchant Gourmet. http://www.merchant-gourmet.com/products/cereals-grains/ready-to-eat-red-white-quinoa/

I decided to use it as a direct replacement in my favourite ‘with cous cous’ meal. I oven roast some favourite vegetables in olive oil, garlic and pesto, add some chopped smoked sausage and then serve with cous cous on the side or added at the last minute and baked in.

A very easy meal to put together and always tastes delicious. Before it was confirmed that I was also dairy intolerant, I used to add a generous grate of parmesan at the end. Makes it taste wonderful, so for any gluten free but not dairy free people, why not try it with cheese too – you lucky people!

Microwaving the quinoa was even less hassle than cooking the cous cous, so this new ingredient has made this meal even more simple and definitely more delicious. The little grains do have a slightly nutty flavour and a lovely texture. I did not feel at all bloated or uncomfortable afterwards and if anything could have eaten more.

Here’s what I used and how I made it.

Extra virgin olive oil

2 large cloves fresh garlic

Mattessons Smoked Sausage – we use the reduced fat version. http://www.mattessons.co.uk/?page_id=466

1 medium red onion

2 sticks celery

1 large yellow pepper

1 medium sized courgette

6 cherry tomatoes – or you could use baby plum tomatoes

8-10 mushrooms

Tomato puree

Balsamic vinegar

Florentino  – dairy free pesto http://www.waitrose.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductView-10317-10001-3755-Florentino+pesto+basil.html?storeId=10317

(Obviously you can use normal pesto, if you are not dairy intolerant.)

Salt and pepper to season

Chopped all the vegetables into similar sized chunks.

Finely chop the garlic. Quarter the little tomatoes.

Chop the sausage into slightly bigger chunks or slices.

Put all together in a medium sized roasting dish.

Season with salt and black pepper.

Then pour over a good ‘glug’ of oil to coat the entire mixture.

Add several ‘squirts’ of a good tomato puree to coat the mixture, then stir in several large spoonfuls of the pesto. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar, as it adds a sweetness to the onions as they roast.

Bake in the oven at about 180 degrees for about thirty minutes or until the vegetables are cooked to your liking. They are just as good very soft as they are with a bit of ‘bite’.

Then microwave your quinoa and serve them together. You could keep them side by side on your plate or even stir the quinoa into the mixture. It is great either way. Very quick and simple meal. Totally and naturally dairy free and gluten free. Enjoy.

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