Even though it’s mid-summer, sometimes you just feel like a hearty meal. That was our case for this particular dinner. We’re eating a crunchy quinoa dish packed full of goodies such as fresh hot italian sausage, crumbled feta, sauteed local young green beans, yellow grape tomatoes, and diced maui onions that were deglazed with balsamic and sherry vinegars creating the “pan sauce” for the dish.
A: man, i have to say, i loved this take on quinoa. it was some how more… i dunno, hearty. it seems like every quinoa salad i make tastes pretty similar. don’t get me wrong, i totally love my normal quinoa salads, but still… it’s easy to get bored, ya know?
T: yeah, I agree… not that I was bored with your other quinoa dishes, but that this one was different- in a good way. It tasted less like something that you would find cold in a cafe counter and more like something that you would be served… I don’t know, somewhere other than a cafe… a real restaurant.
A: hehehe you are so eloquent with your descriptions. ;-P and articulate! but i know what you mean… i too seem to be unable to find the right way to really get at what made this dish different. i guess for one, it wasn’t a “salad” at all…
T: yeah, it was a hot meal, and it wasn’t as citrusy as a lot of your grain salads have been. It had a more robust flavor… it would have gone well with an amber beer rather than a light beer.
A: uh, t? i think most people are looking for wine pairings to go with these meals… not so much beer pairings! we need to think outside of what we drink.
T: I can only offer what I know, and that’s beer. Mainly Natty Light at that.
A: woah now! we keep it real by buying tasty dark and potent beers on a regular basis…. mmmm, like arrogant bastard for instance, my current fave.
T: True. One Arrogant Bastard for every 12 Natty’s.
A: i think arrogant bastard would have gone lovely with this meal.
T: oooh you’re right that would have been good. Mmmm… So, do you have a rating for this one?
A: the arrogant bastard or the meal?!? i’m gonna have to give this meal a 4.3/5. It was totally tasty. The hot italian sausage was particularly good and went really well with the feta, quinoa, and veggies. I also thought that the sherry and balsamic vinegars took the dish to a great place. there was no citrus in this quinoa dish and i’ll be the first to admit i have a problem there: until now, virtually every grain salad..er, dish… i’ve made has had a citrus vinaigrette base, but i think i’ve seen the light.
T: I was seeing the light while I was eating this. I give it a 4.73/5. It was absurdly tasty… the sausage was great (it’s awesome that we can buy it half a block away), the yellow tomatoes were excellent, and to top it off the entire dish was based around the super grain, quinoa. Oooooh wee. Plus, it was a significant deviation from your previous quinoas, so I give you props for finding some fresh inspiration.
A: well said pepita brittle, well said.
T: I thought I had escaped that name. I thought we had laid it to rest. Damn you Mandy.
A: muhahahahhahah! you’ll neeeeever escape the name pepita brittle… never… never…Never!!!! (and, btw, i’m just going to ignore that mandy jab)
T: This blog session is over.
2/3 cup quinoa, uncooked
1 1/3 cup water
2 links hot italian sausage
1 tbsp canola oil
1/2 sweet onion, chopped (I used a Maui)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2-1 jalapeno, diced (vary amount depending on level of spiciness you prefer)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 cups small young green beans
10 yellow or red grape or cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup crumbled feta
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Place the quinoa and water in a small pot over high heat. Add a liberal pinch of kosher salt and black pepper to the pot. Stir. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer the quinoa over low heat, stirring occasionally, until all of the water has been absorbed by the quinoa, about 15-20 minutes. Once finished cooking, remove the quinoa from the heat. Allow the quinoa to sit until ready for use, then fluff with a fork.
While the quinoa is simmering, cook the sausages. Add the canola oil to a large sautepan, over medium to medium-high heat. Once the sautepan is hot, add the italian sausage. Saute the sausages over medium/medium-high heat until just cooked through, about 10-15 minutes, turning the sausages occasionally.
Once the sausage is thoroughly cooked, remove it from the pan and allow it to rest for at least five minutes before slicing it into 1/4 inch thick slices. Leave the pan on the stove, but reduce the heat to medium.
Saute the sweet onions, jalapeno, and green beans in the pan using the rendered fat from the sausage for your oil. Season the veggies with a pinch of kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper then stir. Saute, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes, until the green beans are crisp-tender and the onions are translucent.
Add the minced garlic, cherry tomatoes, and dried herbs to the pan. Saute, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes have just cooked through, but have not ruptured, about 3 or 4 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the sherry and balsamic vinegars, making sure to scrape up any bits of caramelized goodness still stuck ot the bottom of the pan.
To the pan, add the cooked quinoa, sausage slices, and crumbled feta. Remove from the heat and stir to combine. Taste the quinoa dish and adjust seasoning as necessary with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve hot. Enjoy!