Roasted Vegetables and Tempeh with Saffron-Spiced Quinoa

Usually, the recipes on this blog are brimming with spices.  This dish is the exception: the flavours are subtle and it’s the foods themselves which shine through thanks to the roasting that coaxes out the sweetness hiding within.  The quinoa offers a soft and pillowy backdrop to let the vegetables show off and the nutty aroma and taste of the tempeh seals the meal (if of course you like tempeh).

Yield: 3-4 servings

What you need for the vegetables and tempeh:

  • 8 oz tempeh, diced approximately 3/4″
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine, maple syrup is the best alternative here if you don’t have mirin)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 8 Brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 small onions, diced approximately 3/4″
  • 1 small turnip, peeled, quartered and sliced into 1/3″ thick quarter-moons, 2 cups
  • 3 small potatoes, diced approximately 3/4″
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

What you need for the quinoa:

  • 1 cup quinoa, soaked for a few hours and well-drained
  • 1 pinch saffron soaked in 1 tablespoon water for at least 10 minutes
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 3 bay leaves
  • a 1″ piece true cinnamon (the flaky stuff) or a 1/2″ piece of cassia (the hard stuff)
  • 7 whole cloves
  • 7 whole cardamom pods
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups hot water (the lesser amount yields a chewier, more individuated grain while the larger amount makes for a more polenta-like dish)

What you do for the vegetables and tempeh:

  1. In a small bowl, place the cubed tempeh, tamari, mirin and vinegar.  Toss to soak and let marinate (in the fridge) until the liquid is absorbed, an hour or three, tossing every once in a while.  Or put it all in the fridge in the morning and you’ll be good to go by evening prep time.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400F.  Put all the prepped vegetables in a 9″x13″ glass or ceramic baking dish.  Add the tempeh cubes.  Drizzle with the sunflower oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well to coat everything in the oil, hands work well.      DSCN1415
  3. Roast in the oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes or so, tossing every 15 minutes.  The Brussel sprouts, onions and tempeh should have lots of dark and roasted bits.  The turnip and potatoes will be cooked through and easily pierced with a fork but still tender-crisp.   DSCN1417
  4. Remove from the oven and serve aside some saffron-spiced quinoa.

What you do for the quinoa:

  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a 2 quart saucepan.  When the oil is hot, add the bay, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom and stir until the bay darkens a few shades, 1 or 2 minutes.
  2. Add the quinoa to the pot (careful, if there’s any water clinging to it, it will splutter) and stir and fry another 2 or 3 minutes.
  3. Stream in the hot water and add the salt.  Mix well.  Bring to a boil, cover tightly, reduce heat to low and let simmer 25-30 minutes until all liquid is absorbed: no peeking!
  4. Turn off the heat and let sit 15-20 minutes.
  5. Fluff up a little (if using less water), spoon up (no matter how much water being used) and serve.

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