Baked quinoa with sweet potatoes & almonds: 98 cents/serving

I have something of a love-hate relationship with quinoa. I love how healthy it is, but I hate the fussy rinsing it requires to get rid of the bitter-tasting residue. I love its versatility, but I hate contributing to situations like this [link] that drive up the prices of nutritious food for the people who need it most. That said, I still do like to throw quinoa into the mix every now and then for the sake of variety, and this autumnal version really hit the spot—a little sweet, a little savory, very creamy and a little crunchy.

It’s adapted from Faith Durand’s “Not Your Mother’s Casseroles,” which I did not intentionally bring into my possession. Casseroles aren’t really my gig and the title is kind of embarrassing, but it arrived unbidden in the mail at my last job and, being a lover of all things free, I took it home. I’ve cooked a handful of things out of it since then, and I have to say, the book as a whole isn’t half bad. (Although I admit my expectations were pretty low.)

The recipe itself is a bit pricey—more than we usually spend in an entire day, as a matter of fact—but it does provide a solid couple days of leftovers.

12 oz. quinoa (about 2 cups), RINSED VERY WELL and drained; you’ll need a sieve with very small holes for this: $2.75
1 gigantic sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes: $1
1 onion, chopped: 25 cents
1 cup grated Parmesan: 75 cents
1 cup toasted sliced almonds, toasted: 90 cents
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley (from the garden): $0 
1/2 tsp cinnamon (I use a microplane to grate whole sticks I buy in bulk at the Asian market): 5 cents
pinch of nutmeg: 3 cents
2 tsp salt: 2 cents
5 cups chicken stock, from bouillon base (yikes! finally out of homemade stock), OR vegetable broth: 9 cents
1 T canola oil: 6 cents
TOTAL: $5.90/6 = 98 cents/serving

Heat oven to 350. If you haven’t already toasted the almonds, do so on a baking sheet in the oven, stirring every couple of minutes to ensure they don’t burn.

Heat the oil in a heavy, oven-safe pot* and saute the onions until translucent. Remove the onions, quinoa, cheese, almonds, parsley, sweet potato, salt, and spices to a large bowl. In the pot in which you cooked the onions, add the stock and bring to a simmer.

Stir in the contents of the bowl, put a lid on the pot, and put it in the oven for about 50 minutes. After 50 minutes, remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes. If it’s still a bit soupy, let it sit for 10 minutes. If not, fluff and serve.

*If you don’t have one, you could alternately transfer the final mixture to a baking dish and cover it with foil.

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