Saturday, November 19, 2011

Quinoa Stuffing: Something to be thankful for

A year ago I wasn't thankful for Thanksgiving.

A year ago I was finding out that I didn't get the job -- that there had been so many talented candidates and they'd had a terrible time deciding that I wasn't the one they wanted. In a sick twist of fate, I received the news the day after my brother found out he was the one for the position he'd also recently interviewed for. I was happy for him, of course, but in the dream scenario I'd played out over and over again, we'd both gotten the job. In the dream scenario, I'd be spending Thanksgiving celebrating with my family.

"So many talented candidates... offered it to someone else..."

The yellow walls of my then-office seemed to be caving in on me as I'd tried to get through the phone call and those words that kept echoing inside my head.

"Someone else."

"How am I going to tell them?" I'd thought when we'd hung up and I was free to let the tears I'd been holding in fall down my cheeks in hot, messy streaks. "How am I going to tell my family I failed again?"

I'd felt sick driving down to spend Thanksgiving with my parents two days later. I trudged in the door that Thursday morning without an ounce of holiday spirit. After my mom started my laundry for me, and I'd changed into the ugliest sweats I could find, I whimpered to my dad, "Can we make mimosas?"

One trip to the grocery story and six Valencia oranges later, we stumbled upon a new Hossfeld tradition. And I found a way to get through the day without pausing to think too hard about the question that had been simmering in the back of my mind since I'd received the news.

"What now?"

At the time, I couldn't have known that 6 months later I'd be starting a position at a different company -- the company that had been my first choice since I'd first decided I wanted to work in public relations. I couldn't have foreseen how happy and thankful I'd feel just one year later. Happy, thankful and relieved that I didn't get the job that I'd desperately tried to convince myself was the one.

I think back to that girl, sadly sipping mimosas on the couch in baggy sweatpants, and wish I could tell her, "Don't worry, it all works out how it's supposed to in the end."

So today, as I try to wrap my head around a bit of unsettling news I received this morning, I'm not going to let myself linger on the, "What now?" I'm going to be thankful for every blessing that has come my way this year. I'm going to be thankful that those suffocating yellow walls aren't still caving in on me.

And I'm going to be thankful for quinoa stuffing -- a way to make my favorite Thanksgiving side dish into a complete dinner.

Quinoa Stuffing with Chestnuts, Leeks, Mushrooms, and Apples
Inspired by recipe from Gourmet Magazine
Serves 6-8

1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
2 1/2 cups water, divided
2 teaspoons Better than Bouillon vegetable base
1 cup red quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
3-4 leeks (white and pale green parts only), finely chopped (approximately 4 cups)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup Port wine
1 large Granny Smith apple, diced
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
14 ounces chestnuts, coarsely chopped (I purchased mine from Trader Joe's)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup loosely packed parsley, finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper
1 egg

Place dried porcini mushrooms in medium-sized bowl. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, and pour hot water over mushrooms. Soak for 30 minutes or until mushrooms are rehydrated. Remove the mushrooms and squeeze out any excess liquid back into the bowl. Decant the soaking liquid through a strainer, tilting it and pouring slowly to leave behind any grit in the bottom of the bowl.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Rinse red quinoa well. Bring soaking liquid (will have reduced to about 1 1/2 cups), 1/2 cup of water, plus 2 teaspoons of vegetable base to a boil, then add the quinoa. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until liquid is not quite all absorbed (you'll want the quinoa to be a bit soupy since it will dry out some when it bakes).

While quinoa is cooking, heat large, nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add one teaspoon olive oil, swirling to coat the pan. Add the chopped shiitake mushrooms, and saute over medium heat, until mushrooms release their liquid and are fragrant. Remove and set aside.

Add the remaining two teaspoons of oil to the pan, then add the leeks. Saute over medium heat until wilty in appearance -- approximately 10-15 minutes. Stir in the butter, letting melt completely. Add the salt, pepper, thyme, apples, celery, Port wine, and continue to cook together until apple is tender, approximately 8 more minutes.

In a large bowl, combine apple-leek mixture with chestnuts, shiitake mushrooms, porcini mushrooms, red quinoa, and parsley. Stir until well-incorporated. Crack egg into a separate bowl and whisk yolk and white together. Add egg to the stuffing mixture, and stir again until well-incorporated. Dump contents into baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.

Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately or refrigerate and reheat when ready to serve, adding additional liquid as needed. Stuffing will keep well in the fridge 3-4 days.


shahanara said...
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Gastronomer said...

Happy early Thanksgiving, D! We have a lot to be thankful for this year and every year :-)

Monet said...

Isn't it amazing what a little time and perspective can do? Thank you for sharing your thoughts, pictures and delightfully delicious recipe. I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving, my friend!

catty said...

Happy Thanksgiving, you! And what a nice story - things are always meant to turn out the way they turn out. I also love that you made quinoa stuffing because you ROCK quinoa, girlfriend!

Diana said...

Cathy - We do indeed! :) A big year for both of us! I mean I did have my first pho afterall... ;)

Monet - I hope you are having a wonderful Thanksgiving and that this coming year brings you much to be thankful for!

Catty - Haha... I couldn't resist! Stuffing was begging to be quinoafied!