First, a word about the photograph. This part of Colorado has been receiving a considerable amount of snow in the last few weeks, which we absolutely adore. The area seems like our own personal winter wonderland. I wanted to show you a partial view from one of the windows, and Paulo kindly agreed to hold the bowl of tasty food so that I could capture both within the same picture. But looking at it now, the image doesn’t do the view justice. It appears bleak and gray, while in reality the day shimmered with snow and myriad shades of silver, and a vast quietude disturbed only by the hushed sound of snowflakes filtering through pine trees. Magical….
We spent the day (and many others) installing a wood floor and making other alterations to our new home. After hours upon hours of manual labor, we wanted nothing more than icy cold pale ales and a big bowl of something hearty and warm. I looked in the fridge and cupboards, and devised this meal. It isn’t gourmet. It isn’t fresh, local, and seasonal. But I’ll tell you what…. It took about 15 minutes to prepare, was delicious besides, and seemed absolutely perfect as we sat by the window, drinking and eating, watching the shades of silver shift and deepen, as they gradually merged into velvety black darkness.
Quinoa with Creamed Spinach and Spicy Beans
1 cup quinoa
1 lb frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/2 to 3/4 cup whole milk (or non-dairy milk or coconut milk)
1 tsp lemon juice
2 15oz cans ranch or chili beans*
2 tsp Sriracha (or other hot sauce)
2 tsp grainy mustard
2 tsp honey or agave nectar or maple syrup
1/2 cup white onion, chopped
Rinse and drain the quinoa. Bring it to a boil with 2 cups of water and a little salt. Cover and simmer until the grains are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain off any excess water.
While the quinoa is simmering, prepare the spinach and the beans. Squeeze the spinach dry of excess liquid and put it in a saucepan, along with 1/2 cup milk, a sprinkle of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer. Add an additional 1/4 cup milk (or more), if needed, in order to bring the spinach to a creamy consistency. Add additional salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the lemon juice just before serving.
Put the beans and their sauce into a saucepan, along with the Sriracha, mustard, and honey. Heat to a vigorous simmer.
To serve, spoon the quinoa into individual serving bowls, and top with both the spinach and the beans. Sprinkle with the chopped onion.
* Ranch beans and chili beans are beans (often pinto) that are canned with a seasoned tomato sauce.