5 January 2011

Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club Takes on New Food for the New Year.... Quinoa with Roasted Garlic, Tomatoes, and Spinach

By now I hope you have each embraced 2011 like a warm blanket and look forward to all the possibilities a new year brings. I am not one to make New Years resolutions but when our newest member here at the Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club suggested we start our year off with a New Food the course was set.

In our well-rounded worlds it was at first hard to believe that we had not tried pretty much every ingredient available to us in our 5 corners of the world. What ingredients have I never tried before was my first reaction? But as I peeled back the layers it came to me that I have never tried quinoa...yes that's true... so a search was made on the Cooking Light web site for the perfect dish to share with our ladies. Since my initial reaction I have come across so many foods I have not tried making before like panna cotta, sauerkraut, oysters, kale soup...the list goes on. We tend to make resolutions like keeping the house cleaner, spending less, or biking to work. This year why not throw your foodie fantasies into the mix? Do you want to learn to handcraft pasta or make the perfect pie crust? Thank you Mary Ann for opening our minds to all the possibilities.

As we continue into our second year we are so glad you have decided to join us once again for our Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club. This is a monthly event where 5 ladies in two neighbouring countries get together to create a delicious meal with a theme in mind. We are now in our second year and continue to share a love for Cooking Light magazine which has an emphasis on healthy eating and living. This is a team effort where we combine what Cooking Light readers like best...good food with great company!!! Every month millions of readers turn to Cooking Light for recipes, advice on nutrition and fitness.

I am a little late on the bandwagon but I was happy to introduce myself to this amazing "new" food. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa),  is a grain that comes from the Andes Mountains of South America. Quinoa's origins are truly ancient. It was one of the three staple foods, along with corn and potatoes, of the Inca civilization. Quinoa was known then, and still is known, with respect, as the mother grain. It is a recently rediscovered ancient "grain" once considered "the gold of the Incas." 

Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain; an average of 16.2 percent, compared with 7.5 percent for rice, 9.9 percent for millet, and 14 percent for wheat. Some varieties of quinoa are more than 20 percent protein. It is a complete protein, with an essential amino acid balance close to the ideal ... similar to milk! This article from Whole Foods will give you the "skinny" on all the benefits of this "Super grain of the Future."

Our newest member Mary Ann of Meet Me in the Kitchen started us off with two ingredients she has never tried before farro and chestnuts.  Farro Minestrone with Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash, and Chestnuts was a stunning beginning to our menu. Thanks for choosing this months theme Mary Ann!

Next Sandi of The Whistlestop Cafe wowed us with a dish that I have also been wanting to try from the pages of Cooking Light... Rösti Casserole with Baked Eggs... I hope she thoroughly enjoyed her first experience with Rösti. I know I would have loved this dish!!!

As previously mentioned by new food is Quinoa. I brought Quinoa with Roasted Garlic, Tomatoes, and Spinach from the pages of Cooking Light.The tiny, beige-colored seeds have a nice crunch. The seeds have a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and a somewhat nutty flavour when cooked. It's cooked and eaten like rice and other grains.Quinoa is light, tasty, and easy to digest. It is not sticky or heavy like most other grains, and it has a delicious flavour all its own. Be sure to give it a good rinse before cooking, or it may have a bitter taste. I loved the texture, the flavour...pretty much everything about this dish. I paired it with a "not so new to me" salmon steak.

Jamie of Mom's Cooking Club wowed us with a new food to her Fontina cheese. Her Onion and Fontina Beer Batter Bread sounds phenomenal!!!!

Helene of La Cuisine de'Helene wowed us with dessert this time virtually making a "new to her" flan.  Your Vanilla Caramel Flan made such a tasty ending to the menu Helene.

What foods have you never tried before that you could introduce in 2011? Perhaps there is a preparation that you have never tried?  If you would like to share this month join in below with a "new to you food" you have tried. Join in with a healthy dish from the pages of Cooking Light, from your archives or any another dish that would fit the "light" theme. Next month we will be celebrating Heart and Stroke Month with Red Foods so get your thinking caps on.

On to the recipe.....

**Quinoa with Roasted Garlic, Tomatoes, and Spinach**

1 whole garlic head
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon dry white wine
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
1/3 cup chopped seeded tomato (1 small)
1 tablespoon shaved fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°.

Remove papery skin from garlic head. Cut garlic head in half crosswise, breaking apart to separate whole cloves. Wrap half of head in foil; reserve remaining garlic for another use. Bake at 350° for 1 hour; cool 10 minutes. Separate cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Discard skins.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and red pepper to pan; cook 1 minute. Add quinoa to pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine; cook until liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly. Add broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; stir in garlic pulp, spinach, tomato, cheese, and salt. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

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  1. It does become harder and harder to find a "new food" -- tried farro myself a couple weeks ago, and have you ever heard of kumato? It sure is fun experimenting. I love the notion of your virtual supper club. A great way to share new stuff!

  2. Light and refined! Perfect.

    Happy New Year!



  3. I'll have to give some thought as to what foods I haven't tried. I can tell you something that I haven't tried in many, many years--Cooking Light Magazine. I'd say at least 20 years. Why? I found their recipes rather boring. However, in spending time with you and your offerings this past year, I picked up the November issue. I was culinarily blown away! I've done a number of the recipes and all have been delicious. Thank you for bringing me back to (a much different) Cooking Light!


  4. Eating healthier in 2011 is so much easier when I have recipes like this to choose from. I've avoided Cooking Light at the news stand as well because I assumed the recipes were uninspired. I'm going to pick a copy up today to check it out.

  5. I am new to cooking so there are tons of ingredients I have not tried. I love your virtual cooking club too:D Happy New Year.

  6. this sounds pretty good right now:) thank you for sharing and have a great day.

  7. I brought quinoa stuffed squash into work a couple weeks ago and impressed one of my coworkers. Although I think I was equally impressed when she asked if that was quinoa and dried cherries in my squash. I'll have to think of a "new to me food" I can submit.....

  8. How fun! I love quinoa and am so glad you tried it AND liked it! this sounds like a deliciously healthy dish.

  9. I love quinoa, but unfortunately I haven't used it as much as I'd like. One of my cooking resolutions for this year is to incorporate more "international" ingredients into my Mexican cooking. That's one tasty roundup.

  10. Quinoa is one of my favorite foods- I'm glad you tried it and enjoyed it! This dish looks great.

  11. I love this Valli, and I love cooking light!! nice idea! gloria

  12. I have yet to try quinoa. I love your description and history of it. It's on my list to try this year. Happy New Year Val!

  13. I always have Quinoa in my pantry, but I never seem to make it. I love your recipe though, and when I am ready to make some I am using your recipe! Happy New Year!!

  14. I learned to love quinoa one year ago and never looked back. Of course, the first recipe I tried had cream.... but this looks much more healthy and delicious.

  15. This isn't new to me now, but it was a few years ago. Broccoli rabe which is not broccoli but looks similar (taste like mustard greens) is delicious and addicting when cooked right. Very healthy.

    Happy New Year Val.

  16. Very healthy and delicious! Quinoa sounds excellent with the addition of roasted garlic!

  17. What a lovely and healthy dish. I'm ashamed to say I have some quinoa on the shelf and have never used it. Thanks for the encouragement to give it a try.

  18. Yum! I love quinoa. Thanks for the recipe! I'll have to try this one soon.

  19. Valli,
    It is something I have never tried either. I need to remedy that..this looks amazing.

  20. What a great idea and this does look lovely. I will be using grains and pulses much more this year myself... and I have a big back of Quinoa in my pantry as we speak. This recipe looks great. The best salad of this nature I have ever tasted was brought by a local blogger to my taste tripping party last June. It is on that post, and I have yet to make it - but will. Then I will compare it to yours... That salad was absolutely delicious. He brought enough to feed TWO armies, but didn't leave any (boo-hoo!)... and I still have to make it.

  21. hooray for quinoa! it got a fair amount of attention last year, but i hope 2011 brings even more glory to the little jewels! great dish. :)

  22. This looks delicious Val! Love that you were introduced to quinoa - one of my favorite grains!

  23. What a delicious dish Val. I love the way you plated it with the salmon. Happy New Year!

    I hope I can join you for February.

  24. I enjoyed this read and the sound of this dish. I need to be on this "diet" for the next two months. The holiday eating created a serious setback! :)


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