Spring is here! Snow is melting! A bounty of fresh new produce awaits! Also, I haven’t made it to the grocery store all week and it’s not happening today in the 30 minutes of downtime I have between getting home from work and ushering my toddler through the dinner-bath-bedtime crunch, so let’s just stop pretending this column is going to be about seasonal produce and face the fact that some days, we tired, and we gonna eat some stuff out of a can.
On such days, when I can muster up slightly more effort than it takes to order in, it’s still possible to feel good about what winds up on the table. This quinoa-veggiemix bowl is my go-to recipe for occasions when we still want to eat healthy but are low on time, energy or groceries. We almost always have the ingredients in our pantry, it’s infinitely adaptable and it allows me to indulge in one of my favourite food tricks, better known as “put an egg on it.” The basic elements are: some kind of starch or grain (here we use quinoa), topped with a savoury tomato bean stew, which can include pretty much any of the vegetables you have kicking around at the time, then topped with a crispy, fried, runny egg. It’s healthy, delicious, kid-friendly and can come together in 30 minutes, with leftovers for lunch the next day.
You can substitute all up in this piece, depending on taste and what’s kicking around your cupboards. Replace quinoa with rice or orzo, or try heartier grains like farro or barley (which take longer to cook). The anchovies help bring the stew to full flavour in a short amount of time, but you can infuse yours with any other kind of umami base — bacon or pancetta, or some diced Spanish or Portuguese chorizo. The vegetables are optional but it’s a great way to use up odds and ends in your crisper (add heartier ones like fennel or celery earlier, sautéing with the garlic). If you don’t feel like frying up the eggs separately you can poach them directly in the sauce. Not an egg guy? Throw some frozen shrimp in there for the last five minutes instead. I think you see what I’m getting at. You can basically just do whatever you want. Even if “whatever you want” means “ignore me and order a pizza” because, hey, you can always just make this tomorrow night.
Kitchen Sink Grain Bowl
- Soak quinoa in cold water for 10 minutes. Drain, then cook with 1.5 cups water on stovetop. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until water is absorbed.
- Heat oil and garlic cloves in a medium saucepan or large skillet on medium-low heat until garlic sizzles. Add crushed chilies and anchovies and cook gently for a few minutes, stirring.
- Cook tomatoes for a few minutes, breaking them up into rough chunks with a spoon.
- Stir in beans and kale (if using spinach, don’t add until a few minutes before serving). Simmer gently for 10-15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Once quinoa is ready, heat 1 tbsp butter or vegetable oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat and crack eggs into pan. Cook until edges are crispy and brown and whites are just set.
- Divide quinoa into bowls and ladle sauce on top, then place a fried egg on top of each bowl. Garnish with chopped parsley. Top with extra pepper or hot sauce if you like and serve.
Super short on time?
Boil the quinoa like pasta for 12 minutes and drain before serving.
Sara Chan is in-house counsel at Corus Entertainment, food enthusiast and unprofessional home chef. Her favourite food group is pork. Check out more of Sara’s great recipes.
This story is from our Spring 2015 issue.
Illustration by Jeannie Phan