Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Are those angels singing?

Oh.  No, sorry.  It's just the flowers coming up in the garden.
Don't worry.  The hyperbole only lasts until I've been warm for a while.
(Waiting for food?  Scroll on down!)

Hello, little leaflings.  Welcome to spring. 
We'll be eating sorrel again soon!  Very excited, since I have a new sorrel tart I want to try.
But tonight, I tried a quinoa and beet recipe from Maria Speck's book, Ancient Grains for Modern Meals.  I'm in love with this book.  I'm intrigued by whole grains and the variety of things we can do with them, and Speck's book runs the gamut, from starters to sides and mains to desserts.  This is healthy food, but it's not Health Food.  Speck isn't afraid of heavy cream or butter, and some of the meals look luscious.  I'm pretty sure I'll be posting more as I try her recipes.
I served the quinoa and beets with a spinach and bacon salad (without the bacon, I think Larry might have rebelled some) and enjoyed dinner very much!  The beet I had was on the small side, so I amped up the crunch in the salad with a carrot.  The black flecks you see are cumin, and I used sumac for the first time.  Simmering away on the stove, the smell was divine; earthy, nutty and warm.  The finished recipe was the same, with a sweet freshness from the beet and carrot, and a lemony tartness from the sumac and lemon juice.

The recipe calls for a garlic-yogurt sauce, which I also made.  I liked the quinoa with and without the yogurt, but Larry definitely preferred it with the yogurt stirred through.  We had it as our main dish, but it would make a great side dish; it's also good warm, room-temp, and cool.

Cumin-Scented Quinoa with Beets
from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 cup quinoa, (yellow if using yellow beets, red for red beets) well rinsed and drained
1 3/4 cups water
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp sumac

Sumac and Yogurt Topping, and to Finish
1 cup plain yogurt
1 clove garlic, very finely minced
1/2 tsp sumac or 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 cups peeled, shredded raw beet (I also added a carrot)
1 to 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 or 2 pinches cayenne pepper

1.  Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the oil shimmers.  Add the cumin seeds and cook, stirring, until the seeds darken and become fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the quinoa (Speck warns it may splatter, and she is correct) and cook, stirring, until hot to the touch, about one minute.  Add the water, salt, sumac and bring to a boil.  Decrease the temperature to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes.

2.  Make the sumac-yogurt topping.  Beat the yogurt and garlic in a small bowl with a fork until smooth.  Sprinkle with sumac and set aside (I mixed the sumac in).

3.  To finish, remove the saucepan from the heat.  Stir in the shredded beet, cover, and steam for 3 to 5 minutes.  Stir in 1 tbsp lemon juice and the cayenne.  Taste for seasoning, and serve with the yogurt topping.

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