I found this recipe while browsing the Recipes for Health section of the New York Times site a few weeks ago. Something about it appealed to me - maybe the fact that it melded quinoa (a food I still think of as the kind of uber-healthy grain favored by vegans) with Gruyère cheese (which conjures up a very different set of associations - French, decadent, melty, etc...) and eggs (hearty, filling and basic.)
We tried this out a few nights ago and loved it! The result was part comfort food, part health food, and 100% tasty and satisfying.
It does not take too long to prepare (you can cook the quinoa ahead of time which helps a bit) and tastes great reheated. My husband and I were practically fighting over the leftovers the next day...
My recipe below includes a few small changes to the original by Martha Rose Shulman. In addition to adjusting the amounts a little, I've suggested cooking the quinoa with some stock or boullion as it gives it a richer flavor (though you can just use water.) I've also increased the amount of cheese the recipe calls for (though you could scale back if you want to err on the side of lower fat, lighter dairy, etc.,) as we both felt it would have been even tastier with a little more melty goodness. And since Gruyère is a pretty pricey cheese, I've suggested substituting cheddar for the additional cheese. It's a very flexible recipe, though, so feel free to adjust.
Quinoa & Spinach Gratin
* 1 large bunch of organic spinach, washed, dried and torn into manageable-sized pieces
* 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 4 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed in several changes of water and drained
* 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
* 3 large organic eggs
* 3/4 cup Gruyère cheese, grated
* 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated
* 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
* 1 1/2 tsps fresh sage, chopped
* 2 tsps Italian parsley, chopped
* 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
* Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Oil a 2-quart baking or casserole dish.
2. Prepare the quinoa. Bring the stock to a boil in a pot and add the quinoa with a pinch of salt. Stir and return to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender but still firm. You'll know it's done when you see its unique little curlicue of a "tail" come out of the grain. Drain the quinoa in a fine strainer or sieve and set it aside.
3. Heat a medium frying pan or a wide saucepan over medium-high heat and add 2 Tbsps of the olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until translucent and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir with the onion until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the spinach and stir to wilt it well (you may need to add it in batches to make it easier to deal with as it cooks down since it always starts out so bulky). Season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove from the heat.
4. Beat the eggs in a large bowl and add 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and some more pepper. Stir in the quinoa, the onion and spinach mixture, the Gruyère and cheddar cheeses, and the herbs. Stir to combine well. Scrape the whole thing into the oiled gratin dish. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top and drizzle on the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
5. Place in the oven and bake until nicely browned on top, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 5 minutes, then serve.
Makes tasty leftovers! This would go well with a hearty salad or soup.
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