To be honest, these quinoa fennel boats kind of happened by mistake. Basically I got where I wanted to go whilst going and without even knowing where I wanted to go with this. If that makes any sense. It does sound pretty happy-go-lucky, I guess. That’s actually the best way to cook in my opinion anyway. So I just knew I wanted to make something with fennel since it’s in season right now. But even the quinoa stuffing itself, which I made simply by adding all of my leftover veggies to the pan, turned out insanely delicious. And if you make a face just by thinking about fennel: don’t worry, the quinoa stuffing tastes amazing without the fennel boats. The Syrian muhammara dip, however, is a must…
You may have tried this pepper walnut dip at an Arabic/ Middle Eastern restaurant before, but didn’t dare to make it yourself. And yet it’s just as easy to make as hummus. I got inspired by some original Syrian recipes, this one for instance, and adjusted them just slightly. Traditional recipes oftentimes call for a lot of oil, while I find that even by reducing the amount of oil, it’s still pretty rich due to the walnuts. Also, I’d substitute the typically used pomegranate molasses with maple sirup and lemon juice, simply because it’s what I had on hand anyway. The red pepper walnut dip is pretty versatile and makes a great spread, too. And it tastes exceptionally good with the quinoa stuffed fennel boats or even with the quinoa stuffing only.
Quinoa Stuffed Fennel Boats
These quinoa fennel boats taste amazingly uncommon. They're both: a treat for your taste buds and eyes.
- 1/2 cup quinoa (120 g)
- 1 cup vegetable broth (or water) (240 ml)
- 3-4 fennel bulbs, depending on size
- 1/2 onion, finely minced
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 2 carrots, finely diced
- 1 zucchini, finely diced
- 1 bell pepper, finely diced
- salt to taste
- 1/2-1 tsp turmeric
- a pinch of cardamom
- 2 tbsp pine nuts (optional)
In a fine colander, rinse quinoa thoroughly. Then add to a pot with the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let cook for a few minutes. Once again reduce the heat to the lowest setting and let simmer for a few minutes. Total cook time will be around 15 minutes (or according to package instructions).
Cut fennel bulbs in halves. Hollow out the halves, making some room for the quinoa stuffing. Finely mince what you took out of the fennel and keep it for later use.
Sauée onion and garlic in a pan (use may want to use some frying oil, alternatively add a splash of veggie broth or simply water). Add carrots, minced fennel, zucchini and bell pepper and let stew for about 10 minutes, stirring every now and then.
By the end of the time fold in quinoa.
Blanch fennel by add it to a large pot filled with boiling water and let cook in simmering water for about 8 minutes.
Take fennel boats out and place into a casserole dish or something similar.
Fill with quinoa stuffing and serve just like that or roast in the oven for about 15 minutes at 350° F (180° C). If you do so, you may want to coat fennel boats with some oil since they may be coriaceous as they lose some water when baking.
Optionally toast some pine nuts in a pan without any oil and sprinkle over fennel boats.
Syrian Red Pepper Walnut Dip (Muhammara)
This Syrian inspired red pepper walnut dip tastes great with everything, really. While traditionally served with flat bread, I personally like it with veggies and quinoa, too.
- 2 mid-sized red bell peppers
- 1 large beef tomato (alternatively: one more bell pepper)
- 1/2 cup walnuts (55 g)
- 4 tbsp oat bran (or breadcrumbs) (45 g)
- 1/2-1 tbsp chili flakes
- 1 clove of garlic, pressed/ minced
- 1 tbsp maple sirup (10 g)
- 1 tbsp olive oil (5-7 g)
- 2 tsp lemon juice, fresh
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- a pinch of salt
- a pinch of cardamom
Cut bell peppers in halves and place on a baking sheet, skin side up. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes at 400° F (200° C) or until skins are charred.
Remove from the oven and place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and let sweat for a few minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and seeds of the peppers and cut into chunks.
Using a sharp knife, slice a shallow x into the bottom of the tomato. Place in a bowl and cover with boiling water. After 30 seconds take the tomato out of the water and place in a bowl of (ice) cold water. Then gently remove the skin.
Toast walnuts in a pan without any oil.
Add walnuts and all the other ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Blend longer for until completely smooth or less, leaving the dip a bit more chunky. No is the time for any extra seasoning.
- Traditionally Muhammara is prepared with a pestle and mortar.
- For best results, make ahead and let it sit in the fridge overnight. But be sure not to serve it fridge-cold.
I hope you love these recipes – please let me know in the comment section below! If you make them yourself, make sure to take a photo and share it on my Facebook page or on Instagram, using the hashtag #minamadefood. Oh and don’t forget to tag me (@thisisminamade) so that I can see your creations!