Recently a friend of mine asked me about alternative recipes to make for Thanksgiving that wouldn't leave you feeling like a "fat bastard" after. That got me to thinking: Is it the recipes that make you feel like a fat bastard or just how much of those recipes you shovel into your mouth? I'm thinking both, but I also think that that stuffed, sleepy feeling you feel after eating Thanksgiving dinner is more a result of a carb extravaganza overload (rolls, stuffing, mashed potatoes...) than from the trace amounts of trypotophan that you ingest from eating one or two slices of turkey. And then there's the wine. I mean, c'mon.
I came across this quinoa recipe in Food & Wine recently and actually thought that it could be a great alternative to stuffing. I've made quinoa before but always in a vegetarian context. Although I've always I liked it, I've felt that my recipes were lacking something. Hello! Just add bacon, Tina! Duh. Suddenly quinoa has taken on a whole new dimension for me. Not only is it high in protein, full of amino acids, magnesium, and iron, cooked with bacon it is delicious! And since quinoa is not a true grain (it's considered a pseudocereal more closely related to spinach or beets) and it's so healthy, you won't pass out from a fat bastard Thanksgiving coma. Well, maybe skip the appetizers just to be safe. And maybe the mashed potatoes and gravy. And the pecan pie...
Quinoa with Bacon and Almonds
(Adapted from Food & Wine)
1/3 cup sliced almonds
4 slices bacon (preferrably thick sliced), diced
1 small shallot (or garlic clove), minced
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups chicken stock
1 sage sprig
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the almonds and toast, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Let cool.
2. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat has rendered and the bacon is starting to crisp, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove half of the bacon and set aside.
3. Add the shallot (and/or garlic) to the remaining bacon in the saucepan and cook, until softened but not browned, about 1 minute. Add the quinoa, stock, and sage and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the stock has been absorbed, 15 - 20 minutes. Remove the quinoa from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Discard the sage and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Stir in the parsley, toasted almonds, and reserved cooked bacon. Add salt an pepper to taste. Serves 4 as a side dish.