spicy winter vegetable stew with turmeric basil quinoa

3 Dec

yesterday was the gloomiest day that Austin has seen since I’ve moved here, except for maybe today which is shaping up to be just as cold, wet and gray. Unfortunately, all the cold weather is turning my waist line into a waist round. This is a great warm, comforting winter dinner, it’s flavorful and extremely filling, and the greatest part is that one large serving of quinoa and stew is only about 350 calories.  So let’s get to it!
I always make just one serving of quinoa and about 4-6 servings of veggies so that I can freeze the stew and heat it up later in the month 🙂

For 2 Servings of Quinoa:
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water, vegetable stock or chicken stock (low sodium)
a dash of turmeric
a dash of salt and pepper

For approx 4 servings of Stew:
between 1/2 lb-3/4 lb of butternut squash, medium diced (that’s half of a smallish medium squash)
1 zuchinni, medium diced
2 large carrots or 3 small carrots, medium diced
1-2 large handful’s of spinach leaves
1 14 oz box of diced tomatoes (I use the box not the can just because I’ve heard that the acid in the tomatoes reacts with the aluminum can and I try to avoid putting that weird acid aluminum erosion into my body)
1-2 cups of water as needed
1/2 yellow onion, medium diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 t olive oil (the only fat added to the dish..not too shabby!)
for the spices my measurements are approximate as I adjust them to taste as the stew cooks, you may like more or less spice than I do.
1 T cumin
1 T sweet hungarian paprika
1 T salt
1/2 T cayenne pepps
2 t chili powder
2 t ground coriander
1 t ground ginger
1 t turmeric
a few grinds of cracked black pepps
a few leaves of fresh herbs for mixing in and garnishing, you can use any cool toned sweet-ish herbs that you like, so this would include, cilantro, flat or curley parsley, mint, basil (i use basil and mint, cilantro and I are NOT amigos unless it’s in the form of ground coriander)

Get ‘Er Done:
bring the quinoa, tumeric and liquid to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook covered about 15 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and the little spiral germ has come out from the grain and it’s soft and fluffy.

Add the teaspoon of olive oil to a medium sauce pot over medium heat, add the onion and garlic and saute until soft, about 5 mins.

Add in the dry spices (not the salt or fresh herbs though). You should be hit with a really spicy, warm aroma and the onions and garlic will turn a nice orange yellow hue. (they should actually be more red than the picture but we all know what my camera can do to colors and whatnot)
Let the spices and onions marry together for a few minutes and then add in the diced squash and carrots and stir to get them coated in the spices.
Add the salt, tomatoes and enough water to cover the vegetables and an inch above them.  It seems like a lot of liquid but it will cook out and the veggies will draw some of it in.

(Your quinoa is probably finished by now, turn off the heat, stir in some chiffonades of basil and let it sit until we’re ready)
Bring the stew to a boil, covered on high heat, reduce to medium and let cook for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are ALMOST to the consistency you want them (I like mine soft but with a bite, not mushy)
Once you’re at the point where a piece of squash can be cut with a fork, add in the zucchini, stir and cook uncovered (so that some liquid can cook out) for about 15 minutes or until the veggies are at the right consistency.

Add in 2 handfuls of spinach and mix–the heat will wilt it within 1 minute. 
Taste the stew and adjust the seasonings and spices as necessary. 
Now, this is my trick for the quinoa that looks really pretty but also gives me the illusion that I’m eating way more quinoa than I am (think waist line, not waist round).
Form the quinoa around the edge of your bowl, leaving a big whole in the center of the bowl.
Scoop 1.5-2 cups of the stew into the center well. Garnish with the fresh basil and mint (or whatever herbs you used)

Another alternative to freezing any leftovers you might have is putting the stew into a blender or food processor until it’s more of a ragu type mixture and adding some more tomatoes or tomato sauce and roasted garlic and using it as a pasta sauce or a hearty ragu to serve along side lamb or beef or to serve over grilled polenta rounds. 
Happy Healthy Eating!!!

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