It’s amazing how so many so-called “poor people’s foods” have become mainstream. Potatoes (forced on peasants by Germany’s King Frederick Wilhelm). Oats (defined in Samuel Johnson’s famous dictionary as a grain eaten by people in Scotland but fit only for horses in England). And beans. A life-saver for millions, but which writer Don Marquis said there would be none of in the “almost perfect state.”
In South America, mostly Peru, quinoa is a staple for the poor, and particularly for women who are pregnant and can’t afford meat.
That’s because this grain-like seed is so high in protein. It contains all the essential amino acids one needs for good health.
All of these foods — potatoes, oats, beans — are everyday parts of our modern American diet.
Quinoa is the “newcomer.” Sales of the stuff have soared in recent years.
And not just because it is healthy. But also because it is tasty, filling and versatile. It’s perfect for a vegetarian diet but also goes nicely as a side dish for meat-eaters.
Last, but not least, quinoa is kosher for Passover (caution here: some rabbis think otherwise so if you are in doubt, check with your local authority).
It is kosher for Passover because even though it cooks like a grain, looks like a grain and is as versatile as a grain — used for soups, salads, side dishes and so on — it is not one of the prohibited grains or other ingredients.
This Quinoa Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Cap is a satisfying, filling main course for vegetarian, dairy or meat meals during Passover or any other time of year.
Quinoa Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Caps with Raisins and Pine Nuts
6 large Portobello mushroom caps
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 thick scallions, chopped
1/4 cup pignoli nuts
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 cups cooked quinoa
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wipe the mushroom caps clean, remove the inedible steams and place them outside up on a baking sheet. Brush the outsides with about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn the caps over (the gills side up). Bake for 10 minutes or until softened. While the caps are baking, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the scallions and pignoli nuts and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic and raisins and cook for another minute. Add the quinoa and mint and cook briefly to distribute the ingredients evenly. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon equal amounts of the quinoa mixture onto each mushroom cap. Just before serving, bake the caps for 10-12 minutes or until the mushroom is tender.
Makes 6 servings
It’s beautiful too, don’t you think?