Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Santa Cruz Quinoa and Greens

A few months back Chloe and I spent a weekend in Santa Cruz with my sister.  Walking around Down Town, I stopped in New Leaf, a grocery store stocked full of whole natural foods and organic packaged goods, for some lunch.  I decided to take a gander at their ready made delights in the deli case and ended up choosing a quinoa concoction made with Kale and sun dried tomatoes.  It was so good that when I returned home, I did my best to recreate the dish.  As the months have gone by I’ve put my own twist on it and have come up with an inspired version.  Here it is!

Santa Cruz Quinoa and Greens

2 cups quinoa, rinsed

3 1/2 + 1/4 cups veg stock, separate

1 whole head of red swiss chard

1T olive oil

1 large shallot, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped

1t dried thyme

1t dried basil

salt and pepper

1-2T red wine vinegar

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Rinse the quinoa.  Put in a pot with veg stock and bring to a boil on medium high heat.  Cover and reduce heat to very low.  Simmer for 20 minutes, just like you would white rice.

While the quinoa is cooking, remove the red ribs of the swiss chard and put aside.  Chop the leafy part into bite-sized pieces and rinse several times to clean.  Spin to dry well in a salad spinner.  

The swiss chard ribs are edible and can be rinsed and chopped up into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces.  (If I’m pressed for time, I skip this part and only use the leafy part of the chard.  It’s still just as tasty.)  Heat olive oil in a pan and add shallot.  Saute for a few minutes until tender and add ribs, if using.  Cook a few more minutes and add garlic.  Toss in the sun dried tomatoes, thyme, basil, and salt and pepper.  Taste for seasonings and adjust if necessary.  Add leafy parts of the swiss chard and the 1/4 cup veg stock, cover with lid, and steam for a few minutes to wilt the greens.  

In a small saute pan toast the pine nuts on medium heat.  You have to watch them closely because once the start to darken, they can burn very quickly.  Turn off the heat, once they start to change color, and continue to toss to evenly toast.  This only takes about 4-5 minutes.

By now the quinoa should be cooked.  Toss it in with the red swiss chard mixture and pine nuts.  Sprinkle with the red wine vinegar.  And you're done!

So, there you have it!   Eat it warm or cold, for dinner, or leftovers the next day.  Better yet, pack it in a picnic and head for the beach!  

If you don't like sun dried tomatoes, substitute chopped kalamata olives.  Any sturdy green will work well, but red swiss chard makes a beautiful, colorful dish that's nutritious and tasty.  Enjoy!

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