Quinoa Pilaf with Curried Sweet Potato Mash

When I became a pescatarian, I read a LOT of vegetarian books to make sure that I received the right nutrients and grains in my daily meals. Quinoa (pronounced "keen-wah") was one of the items that showed up very frequently in my books. It seems to be a part of every non-meat eaters diet. Quinoa is low in carbohydrates, high in fiber, and higher in protein than any other grain. It is a complete protein in itself! Now you can see why it's so popular!

Quinoa Pilaf with Curried Sweet Potato Mash from the Top Chef Cookbook

2 large sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons EVOO, plus more for the pan
1 teaspoon mild curry powder
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste

1 1/3 cups quinoa
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium leek*, cleaned and diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 vegetarian sausage links**, diced
4 shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dried cranberries

*Leeks are like green onions' momma's - they're bigger versions of the green onion and are slightly more bitter in taste, it's also in the first picture
**I used the Tofurky brand and bought the Kielbasa flavored sausage

For the Curried Sweet Potato Mash:
1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 1" cubes. Put the sweet potato cubes in a large bowl and coat with the oil. Add the curry powder and salt to taste. Place in a greased baking pan, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 50 minutes, or until softened. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.
2. Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and transfer to a food processor. Add the butter and lemon juice and process until smooth.

For the Quinoa Pilaf:
1. While the sweet potatoes are roasting, rinse the quinoa until the water runs clear. Put the quinoa in a medium pot over medium heat and add 2 cups of boiling water. Add salt to taste, then reduce the heat, cover the pot, and cook for about 18 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed and the spiral germ separates from the grain. Set aside for 5 minutes, then fluff the quinoa with a fork. Transfer to a large bowl.
2. In a medium saute pan or skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, leek, and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the sausage, mushrooms, sage, and salt and pepper to taste and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the sausage is cooked through and the mushrooms have softened.
3. Add the cooked vegetables and dried cranberries to the quinoa and stir to combine.

Let me start off by saying that I have been afraid of quinoa since I made a FAILED tabbouleh dish last year. Tabbouleh is another veggie dish which includes bulgur (a cereal grain made of durum wheat).  In summary, the tabbouleh tasted like whole grains with onion and I have strayed away from any other "veggie grains" ever since, lol. I only gave this quinoa pilaf a try because it was in the Top Chef Cookbook, so I figured it had to be halfway decent.

I did mess up some of the ingredients, per usual. For starters, Whole Foods was out of fresh sage, so I used sage powder. Then, I the "smart one", bought UNSWEETENED dried cranberries. Why? For some reason I thought I needed unsweetened ones - and FYI, my list just said "dried cranberries". I realized I bought the wrong ones when I took a bite and tasted the bitter unsweetened cranberries, smh. I also didn't process the sweet potatoes in a food processor because I didn't feel like cleaning it afterwards. All that being said, you may be surprised to still see that I LOVED THIS DISH. The flavors of the quinoa and sweet potato mash were SO complimentary - sweet with a little bit of tangy/sour. I just know that the addition of the regular sweetened dried cranberries would have really set it off. This is a great dish, it was great re-warmed, lasted long and surprisingly wasn't too expensive. Try this one at home!

1 comment: