Yes, I am on a quinoa kick. It started with having the breakfast quinoa in LA at Huckleberry Café. Then it moved onto my formulating a breakfast quinoa recipe. I have made Bruce Sherman’s bacon quinoa recipe from the November 2009 issue of Food and Wine. I am officially quinoa obsessed! I have to make up for the years and years I lived without it.
Once we finally rolled out of bed this past weekend about 10:30, Laurent and I spent a good hour drinking tea and coffee on the couch before I realized I was starving… I was craving breakfast, even though it was noon. So…I racked my brain. We didn’t have any potatoes, but we had eggs. I had a “eureka moment” and thought we could have eggs over quinoa, similar to the dish I had at Huckleberry Café in LA in January. Oh, I was excited now. We barely had any food in the fridge, except for an eggplant that was at the end of its life, that for some odd reason I refused to make anything with, some green beans, a few leaves of chard hanging on in a big bowl of water, some lovely shiitake and four eggs. Ok, I told Laurent let’s get busy making breakfast. I made quinoa; Laurent started chopping, dicing and julienning.
We heated up the cast iron skillet and we were in business. First ingredient into the sizzling skillet was some prosciutto we found in the back of the fridge that we had forgotten about. It’s cured. It lasts forever, right? Prosciutto is instant flavor. You just need a little bit and it wakens up any dish. It is bacon’s subtle cousin.
Then in went the shiitake mushrooms. Oh how I love shiitake. They are just so elegant and sophisticated, so much more nuanced than cremini. We threw in some garlic and green beans and then the chard.
That poor little eggplant still didn’t get used. I’m sorry little eggplant. Nothing personal. Oh boy was I excited now. I think I already said that, but the feeling was overwhelming once those veggies hit the skillet. This mix of a little bit of this and a little bit of that looked so good sizzling in the skillet. We stirred in some quinoa and we were in business.
Time to cook the eggs. I never thought cooking over easy eggs was that hard, until Laurent told me that it was so difficult to make them. Power of suggestion. I froze up and messed them up for the longest time. I also tend to play with them and poke and prod them before it is time to flip them, so they get mangled and stuck to the spatula. I just blocked out his little voice in my head. (Laurent also tends to mean “in a restaurant” when he says something. He just forgets to add that phrase. I reminded him that I was making four eggs, not enough to feed a Sunday brunch crowd with an hour wait!) My eggs turned out just fine thank you.
Time to eat.
Oh boy…..it was good! It was full of an array of textures; grainy quinoa, crunchy green beans, crackly prosciutto, tender cremini, ribbon-y chard, plus the runny yolk of the eggs. We of course said how great it was and then went on to pick it apart. A lovely game we play of how to make it better next time. Number one, the quinoa should be cooked with chicken stock to give it more flavor, or ok vegetarians, even vegetable stock would make it better, especially if you add some bacon to the pot! J The veggie mélange (oh how I love that word) needed some shallots added to the mix and some more garlic. The dish in LA used roasted garlic, which would be lovely, but who ever has that lying around the house for a lazy last-minute Sunday breakfast? This mélange also needed some fresh herbs, such as thyme, which is my all time favorite herb. This refined herb would go perfect with the sophisticated shiitake and the subtle prosciutto. So….you probably want the recipe now, right? Let’s call it quinoa scramble. Use whatever you have in your fridge. Think of it as a delightful way to get rid of a few mushrooms, that knub of zucchini, or even a lonely little eggplant!
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups liquid, preferably chicken or vegetable stock (water in a pinch)
Handful of green beans, chopped into bite sized pieces
2 pieces of prosciutto or bacon, julienned
Handful of mushrooms, sliced
1 small shallot, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
3 chard or kale leaves sliced into ribbons
Cook the quinoa in the stock for about 15 minutes or until absorbed and you see the tails.
Heat a cast iron skillet, or whatever kind of skillet you have, over medium heat . (Do not preheat Teflon too long, it’s toxic!)
Add a little olive oil to the pan.
Sauté prosciutto until almost crispy.
Add the mushrooms and sauté until starting to wilt, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and green beans and sauté about 5 minutes until green beans lose some of their crunch. And they are almost the texture that you like them.
Add the chard and sauté until wilted, about 3-4 minutes.
Mix in as much quinoa as you wish (You will have leftover quinoa)
Cook eggs to your liking.
Put the scramble on the plate, top it with the eggs.
Wah-lah…breakfast is served!