A couple of evenings ago I was once again reminded of how important it is to be able to cook without a recipe when you need to get dinner on the table fast and "Plan A" suddenly becomes untenable.
I had some leftover ham in the fridge that I wanted to use up. I was planning to make a ham and white bean casserole (a variation of this recipe), but right about the time I had the ham all nicely diced up, my hubby informed me he had an evening appointment at 7 p.m. (it was already after 5). Okay, not enough time to make a white sauce and bake a casserole before he has to leave. My next thought was that I'd make a ham and rice skillet dish which is much quicker to prepare. A couple minutes after that, I discovered we didn't have enough rice to make a casserole (I've been scouting out prices on organic rice in anticipation of stocking up). Oops. So now the clock is really ticking and I have to come up with a workable plan, fast!
And so this Ham & Cheese Skillet Quinoa came into being. Even though quinoa is quite a trendy food these days, I've been slow to warm up to it. Now that I've finally gotten the hang of cooking it properly, I have been experimenting with it a bit more and I have to say it's growing on me :)
So, even if you're not quite a die-hard quinoa lover yet, I think you'll like this recipe. It was enthusiastically gobbled up by all four members of my family (no leftovers!). Two key things to remember for quinoa cooking success: Rinse and drain it before cooking, and then cook until the little "tails" pop out (you'll know what I'm talking about once you see it happen).
Because I was cooking this on the fly, I didn't actually measure much of anything except the quinoa and liquid, so all measurements are approximate and flexible!
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium to large onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups water
1 carrot, grated
1 cup frozen peas
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
about 2 cups of chopped cooked ham
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
In a large frying pan, saute the onion in oil until tender. Add the quinoa, stock, water, carrots, peas, parsley, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Cook over medium heat until most of liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender and the tails have popped out, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stir in ham, cheese and sour cream and cook for a few minutes longer until cheese is melted and ham is heated through.
Do you have a favourite way to prepare quinoa?
Want to know more about the specific food products I use and where I buy them? Check out my new "What's In My Pantry" board on Pinterest. I will keep this board updated with current information on what products we use, where we're buying them, and how much we're paying. It's a work-in-progress, and you can find it HERE.
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