Monday, October 6, 2008

Savoring Sundays

I feel that I owe you all an apology. Posting has been pretty slow around here lately, mostly because I'm still adjusting to this whole "working" thing. I've still been cooking, but it's been a lot of dishes that I can make in quantity and that will work well in little lunch-ready tupperwares. Oh, and also, I was in charge of the dessert for my dad's 50th birthday bash, which took place this past weekend and which monopolized most of my kitchen time for the past two weeks. Brownies, pumpkin cheesecake bars, two jam crostatas, a grand birthday cake, and some cookies...and for dinner? Let's just say dinner took the back seat last week.

Last night, though, Jonathan and I were both in the mood for a homey, season-appropriate Sunday dinner, perhaps because of the chill in the air, or maybe just because we were both pretty tired from the weekend's festivities and wanted to eat something that didn't involve chocolate, cheesecake, or meat on sticks.

Oddly enough, though, I was craving something non-vegetarian, and suggested what I think has officially become part of our weekly dinner lineup: herb-roasted turkey breast. We bought a de-boned breast, the preparation of which required only a splash of olive oil and a hefty sprinkling of dried herbs. In addition to the turkey, I also threw some vegetables into the dish. Carrots, potatoes, onions, and a few garlic cloves, all flavored with a splash of apple cider, made for a deliciously caramelized accompaniment to the meat.

That part of the meal doesn't really deserve a real recipe, even though I highly recommend that you try it for yourself. The recipe-worthy part of the meal was my makeshift stuffing, which was both a lighter alternative to traditional, bready stuffing and a perfectly flavored foil for the meat and vegetables.

Instead of bread, I used quinoa for my stuffing, although I tried to preserve the other elements of my favorite classic stuffing: carrots, celery, sage, and mushrooms. And even though I considered making the stuffing in the oven, in the end I made it as I would any other quinoa pilaf - on the stove, and with minimal effort.

The quinoa was hearty and flavorful enough to be a main course, but I think I'll try to pair it with turkey as often as I can. This may have been the quintessential Sunday night meal, but honestly, aside from the time required for the turkey to do its thing in the oven, this meal is simple and quick enough even for a post-work weeknight.

This recipe hardly needs explanation, but I do have a few notes: I used water to cook the quinoa, although I would most certainly have used chicken stock if I'd had any on hand. I also would have added some dried cranberries or even some diced apple, if a certain dinner companion happened to like fruit in savory dishes as much as I do. Oh, and the herb measurements here are pretty loose (ok, well, non-existent). Just add whatever and however much you like.

Autumn Quinoa Stuffing

1 tbs. olive oil
1 c. dry quinoa
2 carrots, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
~10 cremini mushrooms, sliced
splash red wine
1 3/4 c. water or stock
salt, pepper, and assorted dried herbs, to taste


Heat oil in a saucepan or dutch oven. Add carrots, onion, celery, and garlic, and cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs. Add mushrooms and a splash of red wine, and cook until wilted, a few minutes more. Add dry quinoa, and stir to combine. Add water or stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until quinoa is cooked, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes, then fluff and serve, preferably with herb-roasted turkey breast.


Kristin at The Kitchen Sink said...

Mia: That all looks so delicious and comforting. Perfect for a Sunday. I hope the job is going well!

maybelle's mom said...

chicken also screams sunday dinner to me. the quinoa is wonderful.