I literally stumbled upon this combination as I tried new ways to cook and eat both gluten-free and free of so many other foods I had normally eaten that were now forbidden. One of my new foods was quinoa (ˈkēnwä). I cooked these grain-like seeds with water and found that I liked their taste and texture. With the highest protein content (compared to whole grains) and containing all of the nine essential amino acids, quinoa is a natural addition to anyone’s diet, and it is especially useful when one cannot eat wheat.
I created this dinner by first sautéing Portobello mushrooms and fresh garlic in olive oil. I added quinoa and a good quantity of Merlot along with the water needed to cook the quinoa. The result was thicker than a stew but with a creamy moisture and a subtle ring of red wine. Since my discovery of this dish a few years ago, I’ve replicated it over a dozen times, for myself or for guests. Besides its nutritional value from the Portobello mushrooms (100 grams of this mushroom provide about 3 grams of protein) as well as the quinoa, this dinner happens to be vegan. I eat it as a one-dish meal, but you can serve a salad and/or fresh fruit as a complement.
Mushroom Quinoa Mix
Approximately 1/2 cup olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
3 large Portobello mushrooms, diced into bite-sized chucks
1 cup cold water
1/2 cup Merlot, room temperature
1 cup quinoa, rinsed (use a fine-grade sieve, and rinse only a portion at a time unless your sieve will accommodate all of the quinoa)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a huge skillet with a lid, heat olive oil and add minced garlic. You do not need to add all of the olive oil at once. (I don’t measure mine; instead, I make sure there is plenty to sauté the mushrooms and still provide extra juice in which the quinoa can marinate.) Add diced Portobello mushrooms and stir often, allowing to sauté at medium or medium-low heat. (Do not fry them.) More oil can be added as needed while the mushrooms cook. After about 15 minutes, the mushrooms should have turned a deep brown and the oil should be bubbling less rapidly. Add water, Merlot, quinoa, and salt and pepper. Cover, lower to a simmer, and cook for 22 minutes. Stir once at the midpoint to be sure all ingredients are mixed. Quinoa will be translucent when done. Yield: 3 large servings. Can be frozen.
This is such an easy dinner that I was able to make it the other night when I was sick with a cold. Including prep time, this dish can be prepared in approximately 30 minutes. So invite your vegan or vegetarian friends for a simple feast, or make a batch for yourself. This warm and nutritious one-dish meal is sure to be one you’ll create again and again, as I have.