I made this quinoa dish at a recent family holiday gathering and it got a lot of attention. Partially because it was really good. Partially because of its eye-catching colors. Partially, I would like to think, because it was healthy. And partially because many of my family members still didn’t realize that I could cook. Guess what? I can. And so can you.
Cooking has always held a sense of adventure for me. I have early childhood memories of playing with scrap food left in the sink, discarded from my mother’s cooking. To her, I was likely just making a mess. And to me, I was creating a gourmet dish worthy of serving to a princess. I remember wanting to like foods that, at the time, I had no taste for just because they looked appetizing, such as mushrooms and peppers.
Since cooking is more of a creative (and functional) outlet for me, I tend to not follow recipes. As such, I rarely even have recipes to share! I don’t write down what I use and I don’t measure my ingredients. (This makes for VERY bad baking habits, by the way!) The good news is that this quinoa dish is a no-fail recipe, because you can add and subtract quite liberally based upon your taste and food availability. The nice part about quinoa is that aside from it being treated and prepared like a grain, it’s actually a seed, making it a complete protein. Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) has a distinguished taste, and works well with strong flavors. For example, this was my first time adding fresh mangos and it was a hit.
Notes: Since I don’t normally measure my ingredients when cooking, this recipe is based on my scientific method of eye-balling and guesstimating. What can I say? I like to live on the edge. Starting soon, my goal will be to measure ingredients and share more recipes…
Quinoa with Kale and Mango
2 cups vegetable broth (optional) or water
3 garlic cloves – minced
1 cup dry quinoa
1 medium zucchini – chopped
1 yellow mango – chopped
4 large kale leaves- deveined (~1 cup raw)
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup fresh parsley – chopped
Salt & pepper
Before cooking quinoa, I usually rinse it under cold water. In a medium sauce pan, heat a TSP of olive oil and add in minced garlic until brown. In the same pan, add in dry quinoa plus 1+ cups of liquid. Note: The ratio of quinoa to liquid is generally 1:1, however you may find that you need a little extra liquid to keep the quinoa from dehydrating. For a more fragrant dish, I use 2 cups vegetable stock to 1 cup dry quinoa, or even 1 cup water and 1 cup vegetable stock. If only water is used, add in a pinch of salt. Prepare quinoa per directions, usually 20 minute cooking time. When the quinoa is close to being done, add the cranberries on top in the pan with the lid on, as this seems to soften the otherwise dried/hard cranberries.
While this is cooking, preheat oven to roast or broil. Roasting will make veggies soft, and broil will brown the outside faster. Rinse and chop zucchini and kale. The kale can be chopped with veins in or not. I prefer no veins to keep a softer texture. If you have never deveined kale (and want to learn more about kale) go here.
Lightly coat both zucchini and kale with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Place them on separate baking sheets – as they require different cooking times. The zucchini can cook for 15-20 minutes (here I am poorly guesstimating!), and kale 5-10 minutes. I usually will shake the baking sheets 1/2 way through in order to flip the veggies so they don’t burn. As for the kale, keep a close eye because the leaves can blacken quickly.
For mangos, I prefer the sweet yellow-colored mangos such as pictured here, which are sweet and less stringy. Put the cooked quinoa with now soft cranberries in a big serving dish. Mix in the cooked vegetables. Mix in the mangos and parsley. Notice how many colors you can mix into this dish, that is hearty, savory, salty and sweet.
What would YOU add to this dish?