Quinoa with Caramelized Leeks

 This dish makes an unbeatable bed for grilled vegetables.

1-1/2 pounds leeks, trimmed until just a little green remains, rinsed carefully, and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar or molasses
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed for a few minutes to remove bitterness
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 cups vegetable stock, beer, or water
2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme (optional) 

1. Put the leeks in a large skilled with a lid over medium heat.  Cover and cook, stirring infrequently, until the leeks are dry and almost sticking to the pan, about 20 minutes.  Add the oil and the brown sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks become brown, another 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Turn the heat up to medium-high, add the quinoa, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Stir as the grains start popping and toasting, a couple of minutes, then add the stock and bring to a boil.  Stir one last time, add the thyme if you’re using it, cover, and reduce the heat to low.  Cook, undisturbed, for 15 minutes.

3. Uncover and test the quinoa for doneness.  If the kernels are still sort of hard, make sure there’s enough liquid to keep the bottom of the pan moist and cover them to cook for another 5 minutes or so.  When ready, taste, adjust the seasoning, and remove the thyme if necessary, adding a few extra grinds of pepper.  Serve immediately or let cool to room temperature. 

– How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman



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