Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hippy Stew (Azuki Beans with Caramelized Leeks and Quinoa)

Azuki beans are hugely popular legumes in Japan and other parts of Asia; second only to soybeans (edemame). Interestingly, they are use primarily in sweet dishes, like Youkan (a jellied candy made from azuki bean paste and sugar), but they don’t have a sweet flavour themselves—they taste very similar to other red beans. 

Quinoa, originally cultivated in South America, is sort of like a grain or cereal, but not quite. It is a great source of protein as well as packed with essential amino acids and fiber—this is an excellent food for vegans.
Combining these two lesser-known ingredients makes for a complete meal—super nutritious and even better, super tasty!
Of course, being the carnivore that I am I couldn’t serve just this stew—I griddled up some locally produced sausage and snuggled them down on top. If sausages are not your thing, Hippy Stew would be fabulous served along side grilled chicken.

1 cup dried azuki beans (soaked overnight) or 2 tins azuki beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, trimmed of dark green part, washed and chopped
1 fat carrot, peeled and chopped
1 cup quinoa, washed
3 cups (24 oz) vegetable or beef stock (or water with bouillon cubes)
1 tablespoon tomato paste (puree in the UK)
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup chopped parsley (yes, a whole cup)

1) If you are using dried beans, soak them overnight, drain and simmer for 30 minutes, drain and have on hand for the stew. If using tinned azukis, drain and have ready.

2) In a large soup pot or wok, heat the oil. Once it is hot and quivering, add in the chopped leeks and carrot, don’t move too much at first, you wan them to colour, turn golden and caramelize—just don’t allow them to burn. Saute for a few minutes. Now, add in the quinoa, stir and toast for just a moment in the caramelized veg. Pour in the stock and stir, cover and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, then add in the beans, tomato paste and red pepper flakes (if using), continue to simmer until the water is pretty much absorbed and the quinoa is tender (10-20 minutes longer).

Remove from heat and toss in the parsley. Season with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Serves 4-6

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