B’Stella-Inspired Black Quinoa with Turkey
August 26, 2011
B’Stella-inspired black quinoa with turkey? What in the world does that mean, you ask? Well, as I was planning what to make for the week, I wanted to use the gorgeous black quinoa that I still had, and wanted to add a bit more protein to whatever I made with it. So I thought of ground turkey, and then went on the path of something with a bit of spicy heat, cumin, lime juice…but then I realized that I’ve made a few Southwesternish dishes lately, and I wanted to do something different. But I did like the idea of the quinoa and turkey, and the spicy part. And then in a train of thought that I really don’t recall, and can’t possibly be logical, somehow B’Stella came to mind. B’Stella (also called Bistella or Pastilla) is a dish with ground chicken in phyllo dough, topped with powdered sugar. But that’s a poor description of it. It’s so much more than that. I’ve actually only eaten Moroccan food (at least at a genuine Moroccan restaurant) somewhere between five to ten times, but have always loved it. (And, one of those times actually was in Morocco. We took a wonderful excursion into Morocco-Morocco (as I called it) from a port in Spanish Morocco during a Windstar Cruise. The highlights for me were the tour of the market and the lunch in a local restaurant).
Anyhow, back to the B’Stella. I knew it would take quite a while to make the Heirloom Beans and Red Rice I made earlier in the week, so I had no intention of going the whole phyllo-dough route, but to just use the spices and sweetness of B’Stella as a theme for my dish. (And there’s the fact that quinoa doesn’t have a place in real B’Stella anyway). I pulled up a few B’Stella recipes to check the spices, and set off to make something up. I really had no idea how this was going to work (or even whether it would work), but I plowed ahead.
I did a lot of tinkering with the spices and flavor while I was working on it, and went on a bit of a too-salty-add-vinegar-too-vinegary-add-sweet-and-spice sidetrack, but in the end it tasted quite good. I topped it with a bit of sifted powdered sugar by taking a spoon and pouring it through a fine strainer onto the top of the quinoa.
Black Quinoa with Turkey and Moroccan Spices
1/2 lb ground turkey breast
1 c black quinoa
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup water
3 tsp peanut oil, divided
1 Tbsp honey or agave
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 to 1 oz almonds, chopped
2 pinches of saffron, divided
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp black pepper
3/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp black caraway
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
powdered sugar for garnish
A note on the saffron: you want to grind the saffron threads up before you add them to anything – if you have a mortar and pestle use that, otherwise just use the back of a spoon.
Rinse the quinoa well, combine with the broth, water, and one pinch of saffron in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender – about 20-30 minutes. Check it after 20 minutes and if it is not yet tender, but the water is gone, add a bit more water.
Put the other pinch of saffron in 2 tsp of peanut oil, and set aside to let the saffron dissolve. Mix all of the spices together, except the salt and sugar (grind them from fresh spices if possible).
Heat the other 1 tsp of peanut oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the ground turkey, and cook until there is no pink left and the meat has started to brown. Break the meat up with a spatula or wooden spoon as it cooks. Set aside.
Heat the 2 tsp of olive oil with the saffron in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the spices to the oil, and let the spices heat up for about a minute until fragrant. Add the garlic, and saute for a minute or two. Add the onions and peppers, and saute until the onion is translucent. Turn the heat down to medium low or low, sprinkle the onions and peppers with the salt and sugar, and let them continue to cook for another 20-30 minutes until they are caramelized. Scrape the bottom of the skillet every few minutes (or more frequently if needed), adding small amounts of water as necessary to prevent sticking and burning. Once the onions and peppers are caramelized, add the balsamic vinegar, and continue to cook for another minute. Add the turkey, quinoa, and honey, and mix well. Plate, and then top with a spoonful of powdered sugar passed through a sifter or fine strainer, and then the almonds.
The plated end product wasn’t being very photogenic, so here’s everything but the powdered sugar before I stored it for dinner the next night.