Tasty and mostly simple food for the whole family.

Tasty, healthy, simple, verstile, practical, seasonal, fun food for all to enjoy. I will endeavour to make things gluten-free, dairy-free (cow's milk only here, I'm not super-human), and low sugar as able. I hope others feel motivated to add their recipes to this collection so we can all try them. Thank you!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Giant Quinoa Tamale (Gluten-Free/Dairy Adaptable)

When I saw a recipe for Quinoa Tamales a few days ago, I just about lost my mind.  I seriously love tamales.  I am highly reactive to corn and have not had the pleasure of enjoying it for a while now, despite the fact that my neighbor actually makes tamales fresh each day for sale in her taco truck.  I am not sure how I ended up waiting three days to make it, but I do know that Mike and I barely spoke when we were eating it yesterday until we agreed at the end of the meal that I would make it again today.  Again we finished it and again it was delicious.

Like all things Fawnalicious, think of this as highly modifiable.  Really this is a recipe for using Quinoa as a base to put stuff into.  I put shredded chicken in ours, but you could put roasted vegetables or beans or carnitas, or ground/shredded beef...etc into it.  It is very easy and low maintenance to make.  It takes a while to make start-to-finish, but it is nearly all unattended.  

The original recipe (posted by the fabulous Mark Bittman) included what is no doubt an amazing recipe for tomatillo salsa.  I didn't have the motivation to make it, so I used  about 1cup of Trader Joe's salsa verde and mixed it with 2-3T cilantro and parsley pesto

Quinoa Tamales
  • 2 Cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 5-6 cups water
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing the loaf pan
  • Salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1-2 cups cheese ( I like it cheesy)- In this house, Sheep’s milk Feta rules and it is no sloppy second.  You could also use crumbled queso fresco or grated Monterey Jack or whatever you like
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (optional- I skipped it)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro or some cilantro pesto- for garnish
1. Heat the oven to 400°F.  Meanwhile, put the quinoa in a large pot along with a big pinch of salt. Add the water 1 cup at a time, to cover by about 11⁄2 inches.  Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the grains are very tender, 25 to 30 minutes- until the water is just barely absorbed, it should pretty mushy. If the grains get too dry, add just enough water to keep them submerged. When the grains are starchy and thick, remove from the heat. (You can cook the quinoa up to a day ahead and refrigerate; return to room temperature before proceeding.)

2.When you’re ready to make the tamale, generously grease two 9 × 5-inch loaf pans or one loaf pan and one 9x9-inch square with some oil. Mix the baking powder and a big pinch of salt into the quinoa with a fork (good to taste here and adjust salt). The consistency should be thick but spreadable; if it’s too stiff, add a few drops of water. Spread half of the quinoa mixture in the bottom of the pan and sprinkle with the cheese and chili powder if using. Add the remaining quinoa, smooth it out evenly, and press down a bit to seal the loaf. Cover the pan tightly with foil. (At this point the quinoa loaf can be covered and refrigerated for up to several hours.)

3. Bake the loaf for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake until the top is golden brown, another 30 minutes or so. Remove the pan from the oven and let the tamale sit for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a platter (or just serve from the pan). Garnish with the /pesto and a little more cheese, cut the tamale big into slices, and serve, passing salsa at the table.

The first night, I actually made only a half- batch and used half feta and half cheddar.  Feta was the clear winner, so I didn't bother with anything else the next night.  I just layered chicken on top of this layer to stuff it a bit more.  yum!