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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Thai Green Beans on Quinoa

Sure... you might think of rice or egg noodles first rather than (perhaps even LONG before) quinoa as a bed for green vegetables... but I decided to push the limits of normalcy and just dare to be crazypants.

I love quinoa.  It might just be my favourite of the whole "boiled grain" varieties.  Arborio is pretty awesome though too... I dunno.

In any case quinoa is awesome.  It is very good for you, and very simple to prepare, making it... well... very cool.

For those of you who don't know about quinoa - I'd be surprised as there was a huge boom in popularity there about 5 years ago, where it seemed everyone and their dog was extolling quinoa's awesomeness - if you are interested, you should definitely check it out.

Anyway... super little grain, that.

I cook that up the same way I do just regular rice; about a 3:1 ratio of water to grain dumped into a saucepan, brought to a boil while stirring often, and then covered and allowed to simmer for about 30-40 minutes.

So... that's exactly what I did here.  Except I often like to flavour my water a bit.  So there's about two teaspoons of chicken bouillon in 3 cups of cold water, to one cup of quinoa.

I also chopped up a small amount of parsley and threw that in as well.

So, stir it often to make sure it's all uniform, but once it starts to boil, just go ahead and cover it up, turn it down to low, and leave it sit for half an hour.

In the meantime, wash and trim (if necessary) a whole bunch of green beans.

I had a huge bunch of green beans in the crisper which I was a little worried about going bad, so I decided to use it all up in one go.  I dunno if it was on sale, or if the wife just had a hankering, or what, but there were a ton of beans in there.  :)

I'm kind of meticulous about washing produce.  I once had a dead bee in my bowl of raspberries.  Another time, although again with raspberries, I had a live beetle crawl out of my hand only milliseconds before it would have entered my mouth.  While I'm sure I traumatized the poor little guy, it was nothing compared to my own trauma.  Let's just say it took my wife a good five minutes to sooth me down from my resultant apoplectic fit which - if you're interested - involved incoherent, barely-audible mutterings while shaking my head back and forth and flailing about the room.

Suffice it to say, I've learned to soak my produce now.  Rinsing just does NOT cut it.  So, I'll literally bathe the food.  I fill a sink with enough water to completely immerse it, and then gently and sensually massage each individual piece or entire surface area of the produce.  Nothing gets by me now!


Once the green beans are totally scrubbed of any malfeasants, and trimmed of any gross bits, toss them in a large pan.

I don't have a lid for this, the largest of my pans, but my largest lid still sort of works when I want to steam-fry something.

Like this:

Just a tablespoon or so of water, and then pop the lid overtop.

Let that steam away for about 5 minutes, until the beans are almost cooked.

The beans turn kind of dull despite developing a richer green colour.

Anyway, stir in a couple spoonfuls of Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce and mix it about.  Crank the heat up to about medium-high, and "fry" the beans in the naturally-oily peanut sauce.

Then it's just a matter of placing them on a bed of freshly-cooked quinoa.

Which, when ready, will have absorbed all the water in the pan (just like rice) as well as have a beautifully fluffy texture to it.

The great thing about this kind of dish is that the relatively bland bed of grains is wonderful complement to the rich spicy, flavour-filled veggies on top.  I'm usually not one to take mouthfuls of disparate foods, but this works very well together.

The beans were still very fresh and crunchy, but with a huge amount of spicy nutty flavour on them which was wonderfully mitigated by the quinoa.  Cooking the quinoa in chicken stock really helps with the overall balance of the dish, and provided an excellent medium upon which to serve the beans.  Basically I think the beans would have been way to strong, and the quinoa kind of bland, on their own, but together worked very well.