Sunday, 8 March 2009

dinner at the Heartbreak Hotel

There's been rather too much heartbreak of late for my liking. Seemingly with Christmas and New Year safely tucked away for a few months Spring is being pre-empted with breakups and let downs. While That Boy is intent on reducing me to fury, others are faring little better. Our perpetually ajar door has been pushed wider on its hinges as I cook away my frustration and some of my favourites join us to eat away their sorrows.

I'm not sure that quinoa is sufficiently push-the-boat-out decadent for the day you move out of the flat you once shared, but stirring and toasting the grains and the diversion of making something new took our minds off things at least for a while.

The following supper scores highly in the virtue stakes - turkey is a natural source of seratonin, the feel good hormone and quinoa contains nearly twice as much protein as other grains, not to mention calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin E, several of the B vitamins ... and a whole host of other things which I'm sure are very good for you.

Moroccan turkey with quinoa

225g quinoa
30ml vegetable oil
tsp black mustard seeds
2 shallots finely chopped
medium carrot diced
small green chilli finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
450 ml vegetable stock

430g turkey breast diced (only such a bizarre amount because that's how big the pack was)
1/3 pint of natural yoghurt
3 tsp moroccan spice mix*

Coat the turkey well with the moroccan spices and set to one side

Toast the quinoa for a few minutes in a thick bottomed pan, remove and set to one side

Warm the oil in the pan, and add the mustard seeds, cook until you start to hear them popping, then add shallots, carrot, chilli and cumin and fry gently for 2 minutes

Return the quinoa to the same pan, coat well with the oil then add the hot stock, bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 mins stirring occasionally an and adding more liquid if need be

Meanwhile, add a little oil to a high-sided frying pan, and brown the spiced turkey. add the yogurt, and simmer gently until your quinoa is done

The quinoa should have absorbed all the liquid. If you're waiting for it to become completely soft, you'll be there a while. The grain should still have a bit of bite to it - just on the other side of a crunch if you know what I mean. With plenty of green vegetables, this is probably enough for four if some of your party are lovesick, three otherwise.

*Moroccan spice mix ... a great staple to have in a spice jar just in case
1tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp turmeric

The quantities here should be scaled up and down as you need them - I try and make a big batch, then store it in an old jar.

Toast the cumin and coriander in a dry frying pan to release the flavours, then grind well in a pestle and mortar. Mix with the turmeric and paprika ... voila.

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