We’re not the sort to keep up with health food trends or even eat healthily for that matter. It’s different when it comes to the children though and I’m always keen to see what else I can add to the list of healthy foods I can give them.
Quinoa has been on my radar for a very long time. It has more protein than rice or barley, is a good source of calcium, vitamins B and E, and dietary fibre and yet is the least allergenic of all grains (wheat free!). So when I finally came across a brand of quinoa that I thought wasn’t ridiculously expensive, I sprang for it.
Today I got to cook the quinoa with chicken, broccoli and butternut squash puree. I don’t think I’ve ever really paid much attention to quinoa (if it so happens to be in whatever I ordered at a restaurant). This being my first time cooking with it, I was quite surprised by how much flavour it takes in and even more by the texture it has. It’s fluffy yet creamy but with a slight crunch that ‘pops’ in the mouth.
Does make you wonder what the high end quinoa must taste like, doesn’t it? In any case, toddlers must not care because Atticus gobbled it up for dinner. *Phew* I would’ve hated it if he was in one of his moods and let the food just roll right down his tongue out of his mouth for some reason beyond adult comprehension. Thankfully this recipe is a keeper:)
Ingredients (about 9 toddler servings)
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups of hot water/ vegetable stock
- 1/4 carrot diced
- 1/4 onion diced
- 3 broccoli florets, chopped
- 1/3 zucchini diced
- 1 slice of back bacon
- 2 pieces boneless skinless chicken thigh (or 2 fillets of chicken breast) diced to desired size
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 cup fresh butternut squash, steamed and pureed (optional)
- 1 tbs maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp rosemary
- 1/4 tsp thyme
- 25g butter
- 2tbs plain flour
- 1 cup milk + left over vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup cheddar cheese
Pre-heat oven to 190ºC. Grease your muffin tray or ramekins.
Boil the broccoli florets and carrots to the desired softness in a saucepan with about 1 cup of water. Drain the vegetables but do keep the ‘vegetable stock’ for cooking the quinoa. Rinse the quinoa thoroughly to remove the bitterness. Put the quinoa in a pot and add the vegetable stock. Bring to boil over medium heat then lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer the quinoa for 10 to 15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat, fluff and let stand for 15 minutes.
In another saucepan, add some olive oil and fry the back bacon. Remove and set aside to cool. When cooled, chop the bacon into small bits. Next, add to the same saucepan, the onions, zucchini and chicken pieces and saute until tender. Scoop out the ingredients into a bowl and set aside. Using the same saucepan, add 25g butter to melt over very low heat. Add the flour and stir to form a roux. Gradually add in the milk while continuously stirring to form a creamy mixture. Stir over medium heat until thickened then add the cheddar cheese and stir until melted. Remove from heat and stir in the butternut squash.
In a big bowl, mix the quinoa with all the dry ingredients first. Next, add the butternut cream sauce and combine well. Portion the quinoa mix into the muffin tray and/or ramekins. To make the topping, mix the baby oats with the parmesan cheese and olive oil well. Then layer over each portion, pressing down to compact the quinoa mix. Place in the oven for about 10 minutes then under the broiler for about 2 minutes to brown the topping. Remove from oven and let stand for about 15 minutes. Once cooled, place the portions into containers to freeze.
Once frozen, pop them out of the containers and store in a labeled freezer bag.
To reheat, fill a deep pan with an inch of water. Place one portion on a plate and place it in the pan, covered, over medium heat for about 20-30 minutes. And there you have it, a fragrant, moist plate of sumptuous quinoa full of hidden goodness 🙂