Saturday, May 18, 2013

Toasted quinoa with grilled zucchini and toasted chickpeas

For the last couple of weeks, I have been on a low carb kick and trying to avoid eating rice. Quinoa serves as a nice substitute for rice without all the calories and it is protein rich. Toasting the quinoa before cooking gives it a complex flavor which I prefer to cooking them without toasting.

I flavor the quinoa with some shallots and garlic, add cooked chick peas with a punch from the jalapneo and some grilled zucchini. This is pretty much a meal in itself. If you are eating this for dinner, a hearty greek salad with olives and feta cheese makes a wonderful accompaniment.

Toasted quinoa with grilled zucchini and toasted chickpeas
1 1/2  cups quinoa (washed and rinsed)
1 14oz can - unsalted chickpeas
2 medium zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
Extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely minced jalapeƱo
1 large shallot finely minced, about 1 cup
2 cloves of garlic finely minced
2 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a 3 quart saucepan, over medium heat toast the washed quinoa till it is dry and starts to pop about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. In the same saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add the minced shallots and garlic and cook over medium heat for about 2 to 3 minutes till the shallot have become light brown. Add the toasted quinoa and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix well. Add 2 1/2 cups hot water and bring the quinoa to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer - cover and let it cook for 15 minutes till the quinoa absorbs all the water.
  3. While the quinoa is simmering, drain the chickpeas from the can and keep it in a colander to dry. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 8 inch saute pan,  add the minced jalapeno and cook over low heat to flavor the oil for 2 minutes. Then add the drained chickpeas and 1/4 teaspoon salt and raise the heat to medium high. Cook the chickpea mixture till they are brown and toasted about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and add to the cooked quinoa. 
  4. In the meantime, toss the sliced zucchini with some olive oil and a light sprinkle of salt and grill for 3 minutes a side on a pre-heated grill pan. I like to use the ones with the double burner - this way I get the zucchini grilled much faster in bigger batches. 
  5. Prepare a serving platter with a layer of grilled zucchini at the bottom, covered with the quinoa and chickpea mixture. Arrange the rest of the zucchini on top as per your liking. Drizzle with lemon juice if using.
Serves 4 with a salad

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