Can you make a special dinner for that special one and still keep to the diet? You bet!
I admit first few weeks or maybe even a couple of months on the diet were rather tricky, as it required a bit of readjustment in my cooking habits, but now itâ€™s just the normal diet. So if I cook, I cook for both of us, or for more if friends are coming over. And whilst my husband will sometimes have a yeast-based pizza or bread, heâ€™ll also be more than happy to eat my meals (and heâ€™s a rather picky diner). So seeing him enjoying all my cooking like in the pre-diet phase tells me that this is now a long term diet. This is the new norm.
So, what are we cooking this weekend?
I wanted to treat my other half to an exquisite dinner, but at the same time I wanted to enjoy the evening together, without the need to spend much time in the kitchen. And as I happened to have some free time earlier in the day, I thought about preparing a dinner a little bit in advance and thought about what ingredients would actually benefit from being set aside for a while, waiting for the dinner time. I came up with this recipe for a tricolour baked quinoa with slow roasted peppers and rich tomato sauce.
The way to a manâ€™s heart is through a stomach. How true.
750g fresh peppers of all kinds and colours (I used green, red and yellow bell peppers, orange and red Romano peppers, 1 jalapeĂ±o pepper and 1 red chilli pepper)
1 can of chopped tomatoes
2tbsp olive oil
50g white quinoa
1 garlic clove, crushed
50g red quinoa
bunch of fresh oregano and basil leaves
50g black quinoa
fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Start by preparing the slow roasted peppers. Slice one onion and roughly chop all the peppers. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil on a large heavy-based frying pan. Add the sliced onion and cook for 2 minutes until soft. Add all the peppers and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and let the peppers cook for at least 30 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure they donâ€™t stick to the pan. If you can allow more time for cooking the peppers, even better, as the peppers benefit from long slow cooking, even up to 90 minutes, just make sure you keep checking and stirring occasionally. One minute before the end of cooking, season the peppers to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 180 C / gas mark 4.
Whilst the peppers are cooking, prepare quinoa. Rinse quinoa and cook each quinoa type separately in about 250ml water for about 12-15 minutes. After that time, drain and transfer to a baking tin. Mix the white quinoa with the garlic clove, the red quinoa with chopped oregano and basil leaves (leave some aside for the tomato sauce) and the black quinoa with fresh thyme leaves. I made them all in one large roasting tin, just keeping aside in various corners, so that they donâ€™t mix up.
Bake the quinoa in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes (you can do this straight away, or just before serving if youâ€™re preparing the dish in advance).
To make the tomato sauce, in a small saucepan heat 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add the second onion, chopped, and cook for 3-5 minutes until soft. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook on a low heat for about 8-10 minutes to thicken the sauce. Add fresh herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper.