I wouldn’t dare call it plov, and not because the base is quinoa instead of rice. During WWII, when Odessa was occupied by the Nazi and all men were fighting in the army, the women on my mother’s side of the family were evacuated to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. The three of them, my mother who was eleven years old, my grandmother, and my great-grandmother, were housed in a women’s half of the little house owned by an Uzbeki. He used to come to my grandmother quite often with the same request:
“Raika-Khanum (Mrs. Rachel), give rice, a little rice, guests came, brought lamb, need rice, need make plov”
“How much do you need? A cup? Two?”
“Raika-Khanum, understand guests came? Brought lamb? Need make plov, need a kilo, two, maybe five…”
She couldn’t refuse the extortionist, of course, and the second part of the exchange followed:
“Here is rice for you. Should I come and help your women to make plov?”
“Shaitan (the devil)! Russian Shaitan! Women no make plov, women cook rice, men come tell women get out, men cook meat.”
I will remember that “Russian Shaitan! Women no make plov” for the rest of my life. Therefore, even though there is no meat in this mix of ingredients, and anyway, I have no problem making a real plov with meat, I would still call it Pilaf. All the more so because it’s a fusion – here is a trendy word for you! -of Asian and Cuban cuisine. This is South Florida, beautiful people!
Well, maybe it’s not exactly fusion, but a combination of quinoa, mushrooms, Beyond Beef meat substitute, and a Cuban staple – black beans, seasoned and spiced the way I would treat a real plov. I have minced onion and garlic, grated carrots, lots of fresh cilantro, and white turmeric.
In a deep frying pan or dutch oven, you need to saute garlic and onion, while you cut mushrooms into large chunks. Throw mushrooms into the pan, stir, cover, and saute together for 10 – 15 minutes, until mushrooms soften and become darker in color. Remember to stir often – you don’t want mushrooms to burn.
Now you can add carrots and chopped cilantro stems. Reserve cilantro leaves for garnishing. I use a tiny grater to grate turmeric right into the pan, but you can prepare it beforehand. Mix it all together, cover, and saute for about 10 more minutes, until carrots become soft and blend with the rest of it.
Here is the fusion part: add precooked black beans. I like to use home-cooked or frozen, but you can use canned, if you prefer. In any case, they need to be thoroughly rinsed and drained. Also at this point add the beef substitute.
In addition to cilantro and turmeric that are already cooking with the veggies, I now season it with cinnamon and cumin, salt and pepper, of course, and a couple of tablespoons of sweet red wine. Someone brought Manishewitz into the house, and all I can do with it is use it for cooking. Mix everything together, cover and let it simmer for a few more minutes, just to blend flavors.
The veggies are ready to be mixed with precooked quinoa. Everyone has their own way of cooking quinoa, and I am no exception. I soak it for ten minutes in hot water, then steam for ten more minutes, and fluff it up. But you do whatever works for you! Remove veggies from fire, add them to quinoa, and mix very well. Taste to adjust seasoning. If you are planning to serve it for dinner the same day, like I am doing, preheat your oven to 200, cover the pilaf dish, and bake it on middle rack for 15 – 20 minutes. However, you can refrigerate it for a day or two and bake it right before serving. This is a perfect Shabbos main course to prepare in advance and stick into the oven right before bentching licht.
It looks very appetizing, garnished with those reserved cilantro leaves. It will taste great with a glass of Victor Chardonnay Lazio, light and dry, like a true Chardonnay, but somewhat subtle. My husband’s choice, and an excellent one!
- 4 cups cooked quinoa (2 cups uncooked)
- 1 lb mushrooms
- 1 1/2 cup precooked or frozen black beans, or 1 can
- 1 cup Beyond Beef or any other meat substitute of your choice
- 1/2 grated carrots
- 3 – 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 medium size onion, minced
- Large handful of fresh cilantro
- Grated white turmeric, to taste
- Pinch of cinnamon
- Pinch of cumin
- 2 tablespoons of sweet red wine
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook quinoa according to your preferred method. Put aside.
- Cut mushrooms into large chunks.
- In a deep frying pan or dutch oven, saute garlic and onion until soft, add mushrooms. Mix and saute covered for 10 – 15 minutes, until mushrooms soften and change color. Stir often.
- Separate cilantro leaves from stems. Reserve leaves for garnishing. Chop stems roughly.
- Add carrots and chopped cilantro stems to the pan. Grate turmeric into the pan. Alternatively, prepare grated turmeric. Mix, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, until carrots soften and blend. Stir often.
- Add black beans and meat substitute, season with cinnamon, cumin, salt and pepper, add wine. Mix well, cover, simmer for a few more minutes, remove.
- Preheat oven to 200. Add vegetable mix to quinoa, mix thoroughly. Taste to adjust seasoning. Cover, bake on middle rack for 15 – 20 minutes.
- Garnish with reserved cilantro leaves and serve.