Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Joe's Non-dairy Quinotto

Linda has decided to avoid dairy products for a number of reasons which are beyond the scope of this blog, so, last night, I decided to see if I could adapt my famous quínoa recipe* to be dairy-free but just as delicious. This was the result.

  • 5 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 slice of bacon, chopped (optional)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of curry powder (I use Jamaican, but this may not be available in all jurisdictions. Substitute as you see fit)
  • pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of quínoa, rinsed and drained 
  • 2 cups of organic, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup sliced zucchini/eggplant/squash (whatever you like) 
  • 10-15 fresh basil leaves
Step 1: Prepare a sofrito.
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat.
  2. Add bacon and cook till lightly browned (optional)
  3. Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes, till translucent.
  4. Reduce heat slightly and add garlic, curry powder, salt and all other spices and stir for about a minute.
  5. Immediately add the can of tomatoes. You don't want to burn your curry powder or your garlic. Add a little water if needed.
  6. This mixture is called sofrito in Spanish. Let it simmer at medium heat for about 5 minutes to soften up the tomatoes and bring the flavors together. Here's a picture:
Step 2: Add the quínoa
  1. Stir the quinoa into your sofrito and let it absorb the flavors for a few minutes.
  2. Add 1 cup of chicken stock at a time, while stirring and adjusting the heat every so often to ensure that the mixture is simmering gently and not sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  3. As the quinoa grains are reaching the desired level of doneness, and before too much of the moisture has been evaporated, mix in your vegetables and mushrooms. I do this about 5 minutes before the quinoa is done.
  4. Finally, remove from heat and stir in the basil leaves.
  5. Serve while hot onto two plates.

*The original involved half a cup of heavy cream toward the end of the cooking process, and then some cheese folded in at the very end. You might consider topping with fresh parmesan cheese to get some nice cheese flavor without too much extra fat. 


  1. How does Jamaican curry powder differ from the generic yellow curry powder you find in most stores?

    So, a sofrito is basically a tomato base for a dish?

  2. I think Jamaican curry powder is pretty similar to your basic yellow curry powder.

    Yes. I start or finish many of my dishes with a good home-made sofrito. The health benefits of onions, garlic, and tomatoes probably cannot be overstated. Not to mention the olive oil.