By Carmel Karni — See the recipe
My parents became mostly vegan a number of years ago, mainly to combat high cholesterol and to eat healthfully while aging. My mom also doesn’t love to cook. She prefers simple foods like quick soups and salads. She almost detests rich foods. Anything that is at all creamy, buttery or in anyway "rich" is deemed opulent and thus bourgeois.
About ten years ago she visited us in our little NYC apartment. At the time, we were deep in the throes of first time parenting. A time in life where there never seems to be a moment to do anything except fulfilling your first born's every need. My mom volunteered to make dinner. She served us this quinoa dish that was whipped up in minutes, required just a few pantry staples and was completely satisfying. I thought that it was brilliant to cook the grains in tomato sauce so that the sauce and grains become one. She made this dish into a complete meal with a salad of chopped veggies dressed in a zingy olive oil, lemon vinaigrette, and some tahini sauce. We loved it and it has been in our regular dinner rotation ever since. Recently, we served it to my mom and she exclaimed that it was great and that she had never tasted it before. Go figure.
Use any kind of quinoa you have though I find that the red quinoa is a little sturdier and will give the dish a nice texture. It’s also quite attractive.
Quinoa in tomatoes and olives
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- Pinch of hot pepper flakes, if desired
- 1 24 oz can whole tomatoes, squished by hand or cut, with their juice
- 3 sprigs of fresh oregano, stems removed and leaves chopped or a tsp of dried oregano
- Salt to taste
- 3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed well
- 3/4 cup green olives, pitted and sliced or halved
- Chopped parsley to finish if desired
Heat the olive oil in a large pan add the onions and sauté until just beginning to color, add the garlic and pepper flakes and sauté for 30 seconds then add the tomatoes and their juices. Season with oregano and salt. Cook for a couple of minutes then taste and make sure the flavor is to your liking, remembering that the olives will add some additional saltiness. Add the quinoa, stir the contents of the pan so that the quinoa is distributed evenly. Bring a to boil, lower the heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes. If the quinoa is done, add the olives, stir, cover and let sit for a few minutes until the flavors mingle. Taste and correct seasoning if needed. (If the quinoa isn’t quite done in 20 minutes, cook a further five and then proceed to finish the dish)
Serve on its own, with some chopped parsley as garnish or with a lemony salad and tahini sauce.