Last July I celebrated my 50th birthday with a trip to Peru. In addition to hiking the Inca Trail I used the trip as a research mission, to gather spice and recipe inspiration for our Zen of Slow Cooking venture.
Our trip began in the Amazon Basin, and we tasted some amazing Peruvian dishes at a reserve. Before we left for the next stage of the journey, I tracked down the chef to find out more about regional grains and spices.
During our acclimatization in Cusco we received a blessing by a local Shaman in preparation for our hike and tasted the delicious food of the Andes.
On our 4 day hiking and camping adventure, I was afforded the luxury of quiet contemplation. It was a turning point for the start of our business. I realized I had focused too much on chosing the “right” time to publicly announce our Zen of Slow Cooking journey and that the very act of just getting started on the trail was even more important.
While we were almost nudged off the trail by an enthusiastic Llama, we eventually reached our mountain top goal: Machu Picchu. But my adventure didn’t end there.
As we toured the local markets, the sensory delights of the spices became the inspiration not only for our spice spoon masthead on this blog, but some recipes from a little known cuisine.
Returning home with bags full of Peruvian spices, my links with South America were galvanised when I connected with Alexandra Meyer de Guevara of Andean Naturals - importers of organic quinoa products grown on the shores of Bolivian salt flats – through the Lake Forest Incubator Program.
The spice trail ended in Jane’s kitchen in Chicago, with fragrant rewards.
Quinoa is the staple in our version of a Peruvian Parihuela recipe which uses some of those whole dried chilis which filled the baskets at the market in Lima. Substitutions are highlighted in orange in the original recipe below.
Don’t hesitate to add this grain to your diet:
- gluten free makes it suitable for many food intolerant groups
- protein rich and non fat
- high in iron and magnesium for overall health
- good source of dietary fiber to aid digestion
- organic and safe
|Prep Time 15 minutes
Cooking Time 4 hours on High
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cups, 1 large onion, chopped
1 ½ cups, 3 sticks celery, sliced
1 cup, 2 medium carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 large dried amarillo peppers or 4 dried Pasilla peppers from Mexico, stalks cut off
2 tsp amarillo powder or 1 tsp ground chipotle
2 tbsp dried Panca powder don’t use
2 tbsp tomato paste
½ cup red wine red wine
1 tbsp lemon juice
8 cups fish broth, vegetable or chicken can be used instead if desired
2 cups quinoa
3 large shrimp per person or *6 pieces of skinless, boneless salmon
chopped cilantro to garnish
Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the onions, celery, carrot and garlic. Saute on a medium heat for 3 minutes until they begin to turn translucent. Add the peppers and transfer to your slow cooker.
Stir in the tomato paste, red wine, lemon juice and broth. Cook on high for 4 hours, after 3 hours remove the lid and blend all the ingredients in the slow cooker with a stick blender. It should resemble the consistency of a soup by now. Stir in the quinoa.
Add the shrimp 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time, replace the lid. * If using salmon you should add the pieces 1 hour from the end. Serve in a bowl topped with chopped cilantro and season with salt and pepper.
Our long awaited Chicken Pot Pie makes its debut next week.
On the trail, each night when we arrived at our food tent our porter took great care and much pride at setting our table and folding our napkins. To make your table more interesting try this classic and quick napkin fold from Bumblebee Linens.
“The truth is of course is that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time.”
- David Bowie