I tend fall into a rut where I prepare meals in a somewhat traditional style (a protein, plus a veggie or two, maybe a starch such as rice or potato, or a salad), especially during the week. It’s simple, I don’t have to think or follow a recipe, it pleases those picky eaters that don’t always like a bunch of different vegetables mixed together, and I can easily customize each plate to some degree – meaning I can take my double-helping of whatever veggies are on the menu and everyone is happy. But when I am feeling more creative, I love to combine flavors and mix things. When time is no obstacle, this often results in complex dishes like menudo, curries, cassoulet, or stews. These generally not only take time, but also create more dishes than I’d like to tackle on a weeknight. So what’s an inspired girl to do to incorporate a lot of flavor without a lot of time or dishes?
Make a one-skillet dish! I came across Heather at Gluten-Free Cat’s Moroccan Yukina Savoy and Red Quinoa Skillet, and it intrigued me. A quick, filling, protein-and-veggie-packed meal that could be made in a single skillet? This was not only doable, but it sounded delicious. Of course, I tweaked it a bit, adding some additional spices (Which I realize makes it not as simple, but I have an arsenal of spices in my kitchen, so I love to put them to use. If you’d like, you can just use cumin and paprika, or come up with your own spice combination.), substituting swiss chard from my garden for the yukina savoy, and substituting raisins for the apricots. I also used regular quinoa rather than the red, because I only had a teensy bit of red quinoa left in the pantry. What resulted was a comforting, fragrant, filling dish that not only satisfied my hunger for complex flavors, but was stress-free to put together. In addition, the leftovers made for an amazing lunch.
Unlike so many “one-dish” meals that either require other “starters” or “accompaniments” (such as a salad, bread, etc) to complete the meal, this dish truly does stand alone quite well. I did find that a fresh orange at the end of the meal served as a perfect dessert, however. Unfussy, yet completely satisfying.
Moroccan-Inspired Vegan Quinoa Skillet, inspired by Gluten-Free Cat
1 c quinoa
1 T each paprika and ground cumin
1/2 t each ground turmeric, cinnamon, ground ginger, cayenne, and freshly ground black pepper
1 t salt
2 T olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
3 c sliced carrots
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 c raisins
1 c cooked white beans (I used navy beans)
3 c vegetable stock
1 large bunch of swiss chard, chopped (about 3 cups)
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
1/4 c sliced almonds
Place the quinoa in a bowl and cover with water. Set aside.
Mix together all of the spices in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat a large, heavy skillet to medium heat (I used my cast iron skillet). Add onions, carrots, and garlic. Saute for 6-7 minutes or until onions are soft, but carrots are still just beginning to soften. Add in the spices, lemon zest and juice, raisins, beans, and stock. Drain the quinoa, add it to the skillet, and stir. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to a simmer. Cover with a lid and allow to simmer, stirring once or twice, for 15 minutes. Add in swiss chard and stir, and cover again with the lid and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until chard is wilted. (If the quinoa is too dry, add a bit more stock or water.) Remove lid, stir well, and serve, garnished with parsley and sliced almonds.
Serves 4 generously.