Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Quinoa with Swiss chard and grape tomatoes

This colorful quinoa dish is a great way to start the New year. Quinoa is high in protein though not as high as beans or lentils. But it is a great go to when you are reaching out for that box of pasta. I like to use a mix of red, black and white quinoa, simply because I like the textural difference. Red and black quinoa are crunchier than white quinoa. These days you can get a pack of tri-color quinoa  or you can buy a pack of each and mixture or use only 1 color depending on your preference.
Today I have added roasted grape tomatoes (with harissa, molasses and balsamic vinegar) and sauteed red and green chard. Roasting concentrates the flavor of the tomatoes and the addition of harissa gives it a little bit of kick. Molasses helps to caramelize the tomatoes and enhance their sweet flavor.
I finally dress the dish with some extra virgin olive oil and some red wine vinegar for that mildly tangy finish.

Quinoa with Swiss chard and Grape tomatoes
1 bunch organic Swiss chard (mix of red and green)
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
A pinch of dried red chili flakes
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

8 oz cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon unsulfered molasses or brown sugar
1 teaspoon harissa paste
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup tri-color quinoa
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.

2. Cut the grape tomatoes into half and toss them with the molasses or brown sugar, harissa paste, balsamic vinegar, ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in the middle rack of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes till the tomatoes have started to shrivel and caramelize around the edges.
3. Wash the quinoa in a couple of changes of water to remove the bitter outer coating. In a 3 quart saucepan, add the 2 cups of water and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt to the quinoa and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook covered for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and fluff with a fork.
4. While the quinoa and tomatoes are cooking, separate the chard leaves from the stems. Chop the stems into ¼ inch pieces and chop the leaves into strips. (The best way is to roll the leaves into cigars and slice them.) In another sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil over low heat and add the sliced garlic and the dried red chilis. Once the garlic is beginning to brown add the chopped chard stems and increase the heat to medium. Sauté for a couple of minutes and add the leaves and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes till the leaves are all wilted and the stems are cooked.
5. Remove from the pan and add the cooked chard and roasted grape tomatoes to the warm quinoa. (Can be served cold a well). Toss lightly. Dress with the red wine vinegar and a drizzle of the extra virgin olive oil.

Serves 4

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