There is a place almost directly across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago called Russian Tea Time. I’ve been eating there since I was 5. In that time I’ve had the same waiter helping us in the central booth. I transitioned from bottomless Russian tea to coriander vodka. And continued to order the vegetarian platter for 2 – although I swear it can easily feed 4 people with portion control.
On this vegetarian platter there is a particularly tasty kasha dish. It isn’t bold. It isn’t even all that memorable to most people I’m sure. But it is delicious. Kasha lightly flavoured with cinnamon in a savoury dish. No sauce. No frills. Just simple well cooked grains with a hint of cinnamon for spice.
That dish inspired me to make something similar. A savoury cinnamon dish. Seemingly ‘plain’ but all the same delicious. It pairs beautifully with other foods that are more complex or intense in flavour. And it is a real time saver when you are strapped for time.
~2 tablespoons olive oil
~1 medium onion, diced
~(optional 1 medium green capsicum/bell pepper, diced)
~2 cups mushrooms, chopped
~1 tablespoon cinnamon
~3 1/2 cups chickpeas, cooked, drained, and rinsed
~1 cups quinoa, dry
~2 cups water
~sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1) In a large pot, with a lid, add your olive oil, onions, and peppers (optional). Turn the heat up to medium, sprinkle a little salt over the veggies, and stir well. Place the top on your pot and allow the onions to caramelise for 5-15 minutes. Be sure to stir the onions regularly to keep them browning evenly.
2) Remove the top from your pot, and add your mushrooms, a sprinkle of sea salt, and stir well. Allow mushrooms to cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
3) Add cinnamon and cook for 1 minute of medium/high heat.
4) Add chickpeas, quinoa, water, and a big pinch of sea salt to the pot. Stir everything together well. Bring to a boil. Then return the top on your pot. Turn the heat to low and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
5) After 15 minutes of cooking turn off the heat and you are ready to eat! I usually let this sit on the stove with the top on until I’m ready for dinner. Once ready to eat, give it a gentle stir and taste. Add more salt if necessary. Serve fresh with your own Farmers Bowl style spread. In the photo above I have babaganoush, roasted veggies, and sauerkraut with my quinoa dish.
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