Many years ago I used to be a vegetarian. I know – that is a serious shocker! It is funny, because as I type that now, I can hardly believe that there was a period in the early 90’s when I was ‘off’ meat. Today, I have a Napoleon BBQ and a Bradley Smoker and look for any meat to smoke. I am no longer that vegetarian university student. The main reason I was a vegetarian was for health reasons. I tried to get creative with my food back then and I ate lots of different grains and legumes. I bought vegetarian magazines and cookbooks and tried countless recipes. There were definitely some great vegetarian dishes that I made and still try to this day. Over the last few years there is one grain that has become very popular and lauded as possibly the most ‘complete’ grains available. I wish it was more common and available during my vegetarian days. It is called quinoa.
Quinoa is an ancient seed. The Incas held the quinoa crop to be sacred and called it the ‘mother of all grains’. An interesting quote from wikipedia says this about the history of quinoa ‘During the European conquest of South America, the Spanish colonists scorned quinoa as ‘food for Indians’, and even actively suppressed its cultivation, due to its status within indigenous non-Christian ceremonies. In fact, the conquistadores forbade quinoa cultivation for a time and the Incas were forced to grow wheat instead.’
Quinoa is a grain people are hearing about but many have never tried to cook with it. I have never used it but this weekend I wanted to try it. I bought a bag of it and I was pleased how easy it was to cook, essentially treating it just like rice. I made a chicken stuffing with it and it turned out fabulous. I would encourage you to give it a try. It is like the new couscous! 🙂
Roast Chicken with Quinoa Stuffing
- 4-5 pound chicken
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1 cup water
- 1 carrot , peeled and diced
- 2 celery stalks , diced
- 1 onion , diced
- 2 cloves cloved , minced
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp butter
- In a skillet, at medium high heat, add the oil, onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the carrots become tender.
- Add water, quinoa, fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stir and lower heat to a medium/low. Cover the skillet and cook until the quinoa absorbs all the water.
- Stir the stuffing, remove from the heat and let it cool.
- Stuff the chicken with cavity with the quinoa stuffing. Rub the skin of the bird with the butter.
- Place the chicken in a roasting pan and cook in a 350F oven, uncovered, for 2 1/4 hours
- After the allotted cooking time, remove the bird from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.