Vegessential: Quinoa Porridge with Roasted Beetroot, Apple and Ginger

Quinoa Porridge

My friend Paris has started a food and lifestyle website called Avocado Please. She writes interesting and informative articles on all manner of topics, from muesli to nail varnish. We decided to ‘collaborate’ by writing some recipes together, then making, styling and eating the food. I have recently started trying to incorporate much more veg into my diet, and have therefore been thinking more outside the box when it comes to using vegetables in a variety of different ways. The idea is to make vegetables a more essential part of our diets, hence Paris coining the genius ‘vegessential’ to describe our project. We decided to focus on one ingredient and experiment with how it can be used in a variety of dishes, both savoury and sweet. After much deliberation, considering among others avocados, sweet potatoes and kale, we eventually settled on beetroot. It’s pretty versatile, and has been reliably tested in cakes. It’s also cheap, and, as anyone whose ever grated a raw beetroot will testify, seems to go on forever.

beetroot montage

The idea is to demonstrate how you can get more out of one ingredient- focusing on how it can be used throughout the week, to reduce waste and get us all thinking more creatively about using vegetables. Beetroot usually comes elastic-banded together in a group of at least 4, and just grating them into salads can get a bit tedious. So, beetroot on your porridge anyone? Quinoa porridge, made by cooking the grain slowly in milk, is something that I’ve heard of on the grapevine (and seen on Instagram) but never tried. Something that might cause a frown among the less open minded of cooks. But I was prepared to go in with an open mind. We also added stewed apple and fresh ginger, to liven the proceedings up a bit.

Ingredients montage

Quinoa. However it’s pronounced – my Dad still insists on ‘keenoya’, even though I repeatedly insist that it’s ‘keenwa’ – it seems to be taking the health food world by storm. Usually the preserve of salads and the like, but rarely used in sweet dishes. The result, despite trying to go in with the aforementioned open mind, was…interesting. Pleasantly creamy and nutty, which was helped by the almond milk. But it was oddly savoury – maybe because quinoa is a taste and texture that I associate with savoury food. I think my mouth was slightly confused at being presented with quinoa and having to process that it was sweet. We roasted the beetroot in rice syrup, adding to the sweetness, but overall the dish was still too savoury for my liking. After all, I’m not one of those strange individuals who puts salt on their porridge – for me it’s got to be a sweet thing.  We could have equally made these ingredients into a salad, omitting the almond milk. A worthwhile experiment, but I think I might add more sugar next time.

Porridge

 

For the recipe and riveting beetroot-related facts, visit www.avocadoplease.com.

Porridge with Spiced Pear Compote

bowl

The temperature around these parts has suddenly taken a nose-dive. From a pleasant, if a little chilly, seven degrees it has now plummeted to an icy minus three. The dreaded ‘s’ word has been mentioned. When it’s this cold, the only thing that will coax me out of my lovely warm bed at seven in the morning is a bowl of porridge.

montage

I am suffering the onset of my usual autumn/winter cold. It was with a severely blocked nose that I made my first batch of spiced pear compote to go with my morning porridge. Having neglected to read the faint label on the spice jar, I liberally sprinkled in what I assumed, relying purely on my non-existent sense of smell, to be cinnamon. It was in fact chilli powder.

pears

I didn’t discover this, however, until the next morning, when I sat down to tuck into my porridge and compote, only to be proverbially whacked in the face by so much chilli it made my eyes water. Well at least it woke me up. There was something quite pleasing about a slight bit of chilli in amongst the sugary pears and creamy porridge, although maybe not in this quantity.

porridge and spoon

So this was attempt two at pear compote – relying on my much more reliable sense of sight to decipher the contents of the spice cupboard. I’ve included a tiny pinch of chilli powder as an optional ingredient, but feel free to leave it out if you consider it mildly insane.

porridge

Continue reading