Sweet roasted cherry tomato sauce spiked with balsamic and a respectful chunk of garlic pairs with light and lovely summertime fresh basil quinoa in a bowl that makes all your summer dinner dreams come true. When summer is throwing her best vegetables and herbs at you in glorious, peak-of-the-season glory you need to heed her call.
I have to tell you, I’m really looking forward to moving into our new house. At the moment all we can do is stand at the builder’s fencing and stare through the holes someone has torn into the shade cloth at our little two bedroom townhouse, so close, so close and yet so far. We don’t move into our home until July. July people. But already I am weaving fantasies about the oh so wonderful things we shall do when we move in. Oh the dinner parties we shall throw; the games nights to be had; the tiny, tiny vegetable patch that I am already plotting in my brain (featuring basil and tomatoes of course).
Most of all I am looking forward to
my our new kitchen. My Our new kitchen and dining room where we will be able to sit and have dinner together every night. We have an awkward furniture arrangement at the moment which means I sit on the bed and Chris sits at his computer desk. Not ideal.
In our new home we will have a proper dining room table right near the kitchen and I will actually feel inspired to cook more meals like this during the week rather than just on the weekend. Right now Chris and I survive on ‘chuck all the veggies in a pot and add a slab of protein for him and some canned beans for her’ during the week- it’s keeping us healthy and fed, but it’s not really exciting. Only on the weekends do I take the time to make magical delicious meals like this, which for the record only takes about 40 minutes from chopping board to plate. But after a very long commute to work every day I’m just a little worn out during the week at the moment. Our new house also happens to be only 15 minutes away from work – oh yeah I’m a lucky lady.
I can see this becoming a weeknight staple in our new home. It really is so simple, and the most time consuming part of the recipe is waiting for the tomatoes to roast and the quinoa to boil. That leaves you approximately 20 minutes to get everything else prepared and call your special someone to set the table.
In the oven the summer sugars stored in the cherry tomatoes blister into sweetness, and a dash of balsamic vinegar coaxes the juices into a sweet and slightly sour sticky sauce (try saying that three times fast). After your tomatoes have split open and softened in the heat they make their way to the stove top where they are paired with sauteed onions and garlic, a touch of dried oregano and red chili flakes, some tomato paste and chickpeas, and another dash of vinegar. Remember to add every precious drop of juice from the baking pan – this is where the flavour lives! Everything melts into tomato and balsamic caramel around the chickpeas. When your quinoa is cooked you chop a generous handful of fresh basil and stir it through the cooked grains along with a squeeze of lemon juice. I topped mine with black olives, but you could go with a sprinkle of feta instead. This is summertime freshness in a bowl.
Vegan | Gluten Free | Serves 2-3 | Time: 40-45 minutes
Note: if you do not like your food spicy, you can leave out the dried chili flakes.
- 3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable stock
- 500 grams (1 pound /2 punnets) cherry tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large red onion, diced
- 2 fat cloves garlic (or 4 skinny ones), crushed
- 1 cup chickpeas (400 gram tin, drained and rinsed)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes (optional)
- 1/2 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons chopped olives (optional), to serve
- Before starting the quinoa, preheat your oven to 200C (400F).
- Place quinoa and vegetable stock in a medium sized saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Place on stove over a medium-high heat and bring to the boil. Once the stock is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer, and put the lid on the saucepan. Cook, without stirring, for 20 minutes. Then, remove from the heat and leave for 5 minutes before fluffing the grains with a fork.
- While your quinoa is cooking, line a baking sheet with aluminium foil. Place cherry tomatoes on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Bake your cherry tomatoes in the pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes or until most of the tomatoes have burst and softened.
- After your tomatoes are cooked, place a medium frying pan/skillet over a medium heat. Warm olive oil and saute onion and garlic until onion is translucent.
- Add remaining balsamic vinegar, chickpeas, tomato paste, oregano, and chili flakes. Stir until combined and then add roasted tomatoes and the juices that have collected on the pan. Stir until combined. Cook until bubbling.
- While the stew is warming on the stove roughly dice the basil leaves and stir them through the cooked quinoa along with the lemon juice.
- To serve: divide quinoa between serving bowls and then divide tomato stew between bowls. Top with olives if using.