Seriously, how beautiful are the colors in this dish? When I look at this photo, it looks more like a field of spring flowers or an Impressionist painting than something edible. But in reality, it’s just a simple little side dish from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, possibly my favorite cookbook these days. This dish was borne of leftover quinoa and the Bittman cookbook is actually perfect for that sort of thing. The grains section is pretty thorough and packed with good ideas, so looking up quinoa in the index gave me a whole range of options to choose from.
This amalgamation of quinoa, veggies, potatoes, and cheese was good- not, perhaps, the MOST exciting thing I’ve ever eaten in my life, but excellent for everyday fare. For me, it was really the cheese that made the dish- melting over the grains of quinoa, gluing the ingredients into gooey, savory clumps, the cheese was essential. I couldn’t help but think, every time I took I bite, that a vegan version would indeed be very sad. Yes, the potatoes were lovely, the quinoa, crunchy and nutritious, but without that cheese, what would bring it all together? So enjoy the dish, both for its pretty palette and for its health value, but don’t skimp on the cheese 🙂
Roasted quinoa with potatoes and cheese (4-6 servings)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lb small waxy potatoes, like fingerling, new red, or Peruvian purple (preferred, for aesthetics), peeled if you like, and cute lengthwise into wedges
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled
3/4 cup of quinoa
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup scallion, sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1-2 tbsp minced fresh chile (like jalapeno or Thai) or add hot red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste
6 oz cheese, preferably smoked like gouda, cheddar, or mozzarella, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup minced parsley for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 400. Grease an 8 x 10 inch roasting pan with a tbsp or so of the olive oil.
2. Put the potato wedges and garlic into a large pot with water to cover, salt it, and turn the heat to high. When the water begins to boil, stir in the quinoa. Adjust the heat so that the water boils assertively and cook, stirring once or twice, for about 5 minutes.
3. Drain the quinoa, garlic, and potatoes in a strainer, but leave them fairly wet. Spread them into the prepared pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with the remaining olive oil, and gently toss with a spatula. Spread them out again. Roast, undisturbed, for 15 minutes. Gently toss again, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and return the pan to the oven for another 10 minutes or so, until the potatoes are tender on the inside and golden on the outside.
4. Add the scallion, bell pepper, and chile and toss everything one last time. Taste and adjust the seasoning, keeping in mind that the cheese will add some saltiness. Spread the cheese over all and return to the oven for another 5-8 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.