Thursday, July 24, 2014

Italian Beef and Veggies Over Quinoa (nutrient-dense : gluten-free)

This recipe is my twist on the typical spaghetti dinner.  I saute up plenty of fresh veggies, add some ground beef and marinara, and then serve it over top of some quinoa.  Yum!

Italian Beef and Veggies Over Quinoa
Serves 6-8
  • Quinoa:
  • Italian Beef and Veggies
    • 2 Tb butter, preferably from grassfed cows
    • 1 large white onion, chopped
    • 1 stalk celery, chopped
    • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
    • 8 medium cremini mushrooms, chopped
    • 1&1/2 pounds ground beef, preferably from grassfed cows
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 jar of Italian Herb Pasta Sauce, 26-ounces (or your favorite marinara sauce)
    • celtic sea salt and freshly ground pepper
    • shredded raw cheddar cheese, to garnish
  1. Soak the quinoa: In a glass bowl, cover the quinoa with filtered water, stir in a splash of apple cider vinegar, and allow to soak at room temperature for 4-18 hours.  Soaking the quinoa in an acidic medium helps in reducing the anti-nutrients (such as phytic acid) that are present in grains.  I find that quinoa gets rather mushy when allowed to soak for too long, so I often only soak it for a few hours before cooking it.
  2. Start cooking the onion: About 40 minutes before dinner, melt 2-Tb butter in a 4-quart heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, sprinkle with salt, and saute. It is fine if the onion gets a bit of browned color; that means it is caramelizing and releasing its natural sweetness. (I love to use my bamboo spatula for this recipe.)
  3. Drain and rinse the quinoa: In the meantime, drain the quinoa in a mesh colander.  Then rinse the quinoa VERY well.  The more the quinoa is rinsed before cooking, the less bitter it will be. I like to rinse the quinoa until the water becomes crystal clear.  
  4. Cook the quinoa: In a medium pot, combine the quinoa with about 3-4 cups of filtered water. The amount of water depends on how long the quinoa was soaked; use less water if you had a long soaking time, or use closer to 4 cups of water if the soaking time was short.) Add a sprinkle of salt.  Bring to a low boil.
  5. Add the carrots and celery to the onion: Once the onion has been cooking for 5-10 minutes and is becoming translucent, add the celery and carrots. Sprinkle with salt and saute for a few minutes. You may need to reduce the heat a bit if the pot it getting too hot.
  6. Skim the foam from the quinoa: Once the quinoa has come to a low boil, use a shallow spoon to skim off the foam. Discard the foam. Then add the butter to the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Stir occasionally.
  7. Add the mushrooms to the veggies: Add the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and saute for a few minutes until the mushrooms have released their liquid and shrunken down some.
  8. Add the beef to the veggies: Crumble the ground beef into the veggies. Add 1.5 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper. Cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beef is mostly browned. The beef does not need to be completely cooked during this step.
  9. Add in the garlic: Add the garlic to the veggies and cook for about a minute, until the garlic is fragrant.
  10. Add the pasta sauce: Pour the pasta sauce over the veggies and beef. Stir to combine, then put a lid on the pot and let it simmer.
  11. Check the quinoa: It will be done when all of the moisture has been absorbed and it is nicely soft.  If the quinoa is done before everything else, just put a lid on the pot and turn off the heat.
  12. Simmer the beef and veggies: Let the beef and veggies simmer for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  13. Shred the cheese: In the meantime, use a box grater to shred the cheese.
  14. Plate it up: To assemble the meals, start with a scoop of quinoa, add some beef and veggies, then top with a generous sprinkle of cheese. My kids and husband prefer to have a smaller amount of quinoa with more of the beef and veggies. I prefer to have equal amounts of both. 
  15. Enjoy!

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