Here at TGBK we believe that there are many ways to explore the world. Though travel is an exciting and obvious choice, experimenting with cuisine inspired by other countries and continents can bring a similar sense of wonder and new experience. With that being said, Cecelia has recently book a trip to Peru (can't wait!) and Jess has frequented Chile visiting a childhood best friend (hi Britt and family!). These two experiences came together in a wonderful way with our recipe this week. Using native South American ingredients, like quinoa, and our favorite Chilean spice blend, merken, we've created a warm fall stew that will take you beyond the four walls of your kitchen.
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is an interesting grain and perfect for our South American inspired stew as it is native to the Andes mountains and the countries of Bolivia, Chile, and Peru. Quinoa was a staple food of the ancient Incan civilization and is still a prominent food source for their indigenous descendants. After the arrival of Spanish explorers, quinoa was replaced in the standard diet by more common cereal grains though has since regained popularity worldwide. This can partly be attributed to quinoa's unique nutritional profile. First being the fact that the quinoa plant is not a cereal grass like wheat, barley, oat etc. but a member of the Goosefoot plant family which contains beets, swiss chard, and spinach. This makes quinoa naturally gluten free and a perfect grain option for those following gluten free diets. Secondly, quinoa is one of the few plant sources of complete protein meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids that our bodies can't produce. In the kitchen quinoa should always be rinsed before using due to a bitter natural outer coating (saponin) even though this is usually removed during processing. We love quinoa's unique nutty flavor and versatility but our favorite way to enjoy it is in a good soup or stew just like this recipe.
South American Inspired Vegetable Stew
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 90 minutes
1 cup dried quinoa (we used red, any variety will work)
8 cups water
2 Tbsp olive oil
3-4 cups cubed butternut squash (about one medium squash)
2 medium parsnips, sliced
2 medium leeks, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz spinach, chopped
1/2 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp merken spice (if unable to find merken mix see substitute below)
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup unsalted vegetable broth (we used homemade, our instructions here)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup chopped cilantro
6-8 oz soft crumbly cheese (We used kefir cheese. Goat or feta would also be nice)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground coriander
Rinse quinoa under running water until water runs clear before cooking. Bring quinoa, 8 cups of water, and 1/2 tsp salt to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer, cover pan, and continue cooking for 12-15 minutes. Drain quinoa and reserve cooking liquid for later use.
Wash and peel butternut squash. A good tip for peeling butternut squash is to prick skin with a fork and place it in the microwave for 2 minutes. Carefully remove (it will be warm to the touch!) and peel outer skin with a vegetable peeler. Dice squash into 1" by 1" cubes and set aside. Peel and slice parsnips into 1/4" rounds and set aside. Wash leeks and slice into 1/4" rounds and set aside.
Add olive oil to a large soup pan, set to medium heat, and stir in the minced garlic. Allow garlic to cook until fragrant ~1 minute then stir in the coriander, merken, cumin, remaining 2 tsp sea salt, butternut squash, parsnips, and leeks and allow to cook for ~5 minutes stirring often. Add the reserved quinoa liquid to the pan and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. Finally, add chopped spinach, vegetable broth, and cooked quinoa and continue to cook for an additional 10 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft.
Stir in the fresh lemon juice and chopped cilantro. Serve soup warm with 1 oz of soft crumbly cheese of your choice. Leftover soup can be stored in the fridge for 3-5 days; soup will thicken as it sits so feel free to add a bit more vegetable broth as needed when re-warming.
These flavors will take you around the world and back; the rich cumin and sweet coriander combine with the smokey spice of merken to create a flavor profile worth making this stew for. And not to mention the delicious and nutritious ingredients of the stew itself. A perfectly hearty and soul warming bowl to enjoy during the fall season. You never know where this South American inspired stew may inspire you to travel this winter!
Jess and Cecelia
Jess and Cecelia welcome you to our kitchen. We are fun-loving and passionate foodies working to make the world a healthier, happier place one plant based recipe at a time.