Latin Twist: Quinoa Paella

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On this first week of January, in 2015, so many of us are tossing around our resolutions for a variety of new ideas…primarily related to self improvement. Come on, amigos, I know I’m not the only one! Anyway, let’s bring it back to the food realm. I’ve already heard the, “I’m going to eat healthier” declaration. Well, my friends, here’s an idea for you: incorporate, on a weekly basis, one new ingredient—and a way of preparing it. Now I’ve touted the virtues of quinoa—the high-protein, nutty flavored grain grown as a staple food high in the Andes in both Peru and Chile—before (like here when I told you about my Quinoa and Roasted Corn Salad). But this time I’m putting this treat into a new realm; now I’m making it into a paella.

So, let’s talk paella for a moment. This classic Spanish dish, said to have been born in Valencia, includes different combinations of rice vegetables and meats, in addition to shell fish and fish, and is characteristically seasoned among other herbs, earthy flavored saffron. What also makes paella paella, aside from the ingredients, is the dish it’s served in. Actually the word paella is derived from the Latin patella, and means frying pan. Typically this pan has two handles, and is made of iron or steel, and is usually no deeper than 2 inches. The diameter of the pan will depend on the number of diners—and if you’ve been to Spain, and/or special Spanish-themed events, you’ve seen crazy big ones!

But getting back to the quinoa and paella thing, let’s just say I’m playing with the paella theme, and bringing quinoa into the arena to replace the rice. The result is a this: Quinoa Paella. This vegetarian version, a delicious Latin American cousin is one that can be—just as in the case of its Iberian primo—varied according to your family’s preferences.quinoa paella 1

And so, my friends, on this first week of January 2015, I share a paella that I encourage you to play with. As always, the sky’s the limit. Would love to hear about your paella playing. In the meantime, ¡Buen Provecho! Enjoy!

Latin Twist: Quinoa Paella

Serving Size: Serves 6

This take on paella is one that is perfect for vegetarian friends--and even those carnivores that want something different!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped, plus additional strips for garnish
  • 1 roasted jalapeño pepper, seeded, deveined and chopped (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish paprika
  • 1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, finely chopped, plus additional cilantro to garnish-
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp saffron, toasted slightly (optional) and pounded in a mortar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped vegetables (roasted zucchini, asparagus, julienned carrots, green beans, tomatoes)
  • 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup green peas, plus additional for garnish
  • 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds (optional)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • Lemon wedges

Instructions

  1. Bring stock to simmer in a big pot. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
  2. In a large shallow pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  3. Add onions, garlic and peppers.
  4. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add chopped vegetables and garbanzo beans Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the quinoa and stir until well coated with the vegetable mixture and until warmed through.
  7. Add salt, pepper, cumin and spanish paprika, mix well.
  8. Now Add hot vegetable stock and bring to boil.
  9. Add saffron, mix well and check for seasoning.
  10. Put the paella in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until all the liquid absorbs and all is warmed through but not overcooked. (If you don’t have an oven accessible, you can also cook on stove top – reduce the heat to very low and allow to simmer until all the liquid absorbs.)
  11. Remove from the oven, cover with kitchen towel and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  12. Fluff the paella with fork, garnish with cilantro and/or red bell pepper strips, and/or toasted almonds, serve with lemon wedges.
http://food.lohudblogs.com/2015/01/06/latin-twist-quinoa-paella/

Quinoa Paella

Serves 6

1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped, plus additional strips for garnish
1 roasted jalapeño pepper, seeded, deveined and chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon Spanish paprika
1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, finely chopped, plus additional cilantro to garnish-
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 tsp saffron, toasted slightly (optional) and pounded in a mortar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp cumin powder
1 olive oil
1 cup chopped vegetables (roasted zucchini, asparagus, julienned carrots, green beans, tomatoes)
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup green peas, plus additional for garnish
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds (optional)
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
Lemon wedges

Instructions:

Bring stock to simmer in a saucepan.
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
In a large shallow pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
Add onions, garlic and peppers.
Cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add chopped vegetables and garbanzo beans Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the quinoa and stir until well coated with the vegetable mixture.
Add salt, pepper, cumin and spanish paprika, mix well.
Now Add hot vegetable stock and bring to boil.
Add saffron, mix well and check for seasoning.
Put the paella in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until all the liquid absorbs and all is warmed through but not overcooked. (If you don’t have an oven accessible, you can also cook on stove top – reduce the heat to very low and allow to simmer until all the liquid absorbs.)
Remove from the oven, cover with kitchen towel and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Fluff the paella with fork, garnish with cilantro and/or red bell pepper strips, and/or toasted almonds, serve with lemon wedges.

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About Author

Maybe it was the dinner parties my mom always threw—or the hours I spent prepping and cooking alongside her (and then on my own!). Or maybe it was array of fabulous dishes that my family sampled in New York City’s richly diverse restaurants, but I’ve loved creating, savoring, and sharing food for as long as I can remember. Living in Spain, and later in Peru, also greatly influenced my life. These years abroad taught me Spanish—and about living in different countries--but also introduced me to teaching English as a second language, which I’ve done—mostly in the US-- for the past 20-plus (yikes!) years. I’ve authored two cocktail/tapas books, Mambo Mixers and Calypso Coolers, coauthored more than 15 others (mostly food related!), and raised two children. Now I'm chef and owner of my own restaurant, Mambo 64 in Tuckahoe, New York. My message is the same, whether I'm teaching, writing, running the restaurant or being a regular guest on the Spanish-language network Telemundo (on the morning show, Buenos Días Nueva York!). My belief in food—and the power of food—is far reaching, and is married with another one: the power of stories. I’m sure that if we could all sit down and have meals together, sharing both tastes and tales, we’d have peace on earth. Enjoy!

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