I found Nigel Slater's Real Fast Food: 350 Recipes Ready-to-Eat in 30 Minutes at a local used book store for $5.95 which was too good of a bargain to pass up. (This justification is of course why my cookbook collection is so out of hand, but hey, that is just .17 cents a recipe!) ;-) I tagged quite a few recipes I wanted to try but I kept going back to his Quinoa With Thyme and Taleggio. Although with the cheese, this is not the most low-cal of dinners, it does feature quinoa, ancient grain, and considered to be the "gold of the Inca's" because it gave their warriors so much stamina. Quinoa is not only high in protein, it is a complete protein, meaning that it has all nine essential amino acids. It is also high in manganese, magnesium, iron and copper. It is one powerful little grain. I eat it frequently but had not really thought about putting it with cheese in a risotto-style dish which is why this recipe attracted me.
Nigel says: "The pleasure of this substantial supper is in the mixture of textures: the tiny bobbles of quinoa and the melting cubes of hot cheese. Almost any cheese will work well, but particularly Gruyere, Cheddar and Mozzarella. Save a few thyme leaves for scattering over the top as you serve it.
Quinoa With Thyme and Taleggio
Real Fast Food by Nigel Slater
(For 2 as a Main Course with Salad)
2 Tbsp olive oil
leaves from 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf (optional)
1 medium leek, trimmed and shredded
1 clove garlic, sliced
2/3 cup quinoa
1 wineglass of dry white wine
1 1/4 cups hot vegetable stock
4 ounces Taleggio cheese, sliced
Warm the oil with the thyme leaves, and a bay leaf if you have one, in a pan over gentle heat. Add the leek and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, covered, stirring from time to time. Tip in the quinoa and the wine. Let the wine bubble away (you need its flavor, not its liquid), then pour in the hot stock. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, watching that is does not stick on the bottom. When the stock has been absorbed by the quinoa grains, stir in the cheese, serve right away.
Notes/Results: Not the prettiest of dishes, but good and definitely comfort food! The cheese adds a creaminess that as Niel says is wonderful with the texture of the quinoa. I used chicken broth because I had some I needed to use and I lessened the cheese by an ounce, using 3 ounces total, which seemed plenty to me. (Taleggio is about 84 calories and once and 50% fat). The recipe said to "slice" the cheese but I cubed it instead to spread out the cheesy goodness even more. Served with a simple green salad, it was a hearty, delicious meal. I would make it again, maybe next time experimenting with different cheeses. It also makes me want to try using my quinoa in some different ways.