Sometimes I’m so selfless, I make food for people I can’t even eat! Now that I’m truly getting better from my surgery, I’m trying to do more things when I’m not grading essays. This week, I made a lunch (and dinner) for CB that had prawns — a food I am VERY allergic to — but was actually gluten-free. I made myself a dinner out of the non-prawny leftovers with a wee bit of chicken cooked with the same flavours but with olive oil instead of the butter. I’m pretty sure this would be tasty without any meat if you amp up the veggies a bit more. Any veggies could go well with it, I think. If you substituted the butter, you could even make it vegan!
Prawn and Veggie Quinoa
prawns — 8-9 per person, I cheated and bought peeled & cooked, but it was to be sure I wasn’t in too much contact with them
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water (plus some in a bowl)
1 vegetable stock cube (optional)
handful of black olives, pitted
handful of cherry tomatoes
handful of green beans
half-head of broccoli
little gem lettuce — or small romaine leaves
fresh coriander leaves — cilantro on that side of the ocean
a few tablespoons of butter
a couple of pots and pans (at least one pot with a lid)
fine mesh strainer
assorted metal cooking utensils
Pour the quinoa into the mesh strainer and rinse under water for about two minutes, rubbing the grains within your fingers. This step is important because quinoa can taste bitter and woody if you don’t remove the natural outer coating. Some quinoa comes pre-scrubbed, but I still give it a go-over. In a decent-sized pot, melt enough butter to coat the bottom. Toss in the quinoa and stir vigorously until you get a nutty scent. If, like me, you have spent most of your life nasally-impaired, this takes about 45 seconds to a minute. Pour the water over the quinoa and stir. When the water begins to boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. If there is still water in the pan, re-cover and let it continue to simmer until all the water evaporates. Turn off the heat and let it stand uncovered for five minutes. Dump it into the mixing bowl and fluff with a fork.
Boil water in another pot with a bit of sea salt. Chop broccoli into bite-sized pieces. I cooked the broccoli and the green beans together because, well, I don’t see why not. Cook to your desired consistency, drain, and dunk immediately in a bowl of cold water for a minute or so.
Cut the green beans into manageable pieces. Drop it and the broccoli into the mixing bowl with the quinoa. Cut the olives in half and toss in the quinoa. Chop the coriander roughly (I used herb scissors I got as a wedding present that made me feel very special indeed) into the mix. Toss it all together until it is well-mixed.
Ok, I tried to get a little fancy with the tomatoes. I cut them in half and put them in a very hot, heavy-bottomed pan — NOT flat side down. If you put them flat side down, the heat will pull the seeds out and get gunky. But, the magic is, if you leave them down on one round part and leave them there for a couple of minutes, they will char on that side and create a sweetness throughout the whole bite. Just make sure to remove them before they start smoking and dump them in the mixing bowl.
Now for the prawns! I don’t generally cook things I’m allergic to, so I’m glad these came out as well as they did. I put a fair amount of butter in a pan — more than I thought was needed, actually. Toss in the garlic powder, chili flakes, and black pepper. Squeeze half the lime (don’t worry about trying too hard) into the butter and spice mixture and stir it all around. When it’s nice and bubbly and coating the entire pan surface — and then some! — place the prawns in one at a time. I like to place them into the pan clockwise, so I know what order to flip them. After about 30 seconds, swirl the pan around. After another 30 seconds, flip them over. Do the same again. Obviously, if you have uncooked prawns to started, you’re going to need to cook them more. I have no idea about that.
Place the lettuce leaves out on a plate. Spoon the quinoa mixture on top of them. Place the prawns on top. Offer up lime wedges for an extra tang.
Here is CB’s lunch box for Monday. It may not look like it, but there was a TON of quinoa packed in there (and a lime wedge in the wee box).