What better way to say “I love you” this Valentine’s Day than with a heart-healthy (and heart-shaped) dinner for your loved ones? All you need is an 8- or 9-inch heart-shaped cake pan in which to bake a delicious savory loaf made with red quinoa, kidney beans, beets, and walnuts. Extra points if you have a small heart-shaped cookie cutter to fashion sliced beets and potatoes into decorative (and tasty) accompaniments.
To keep their bright red color, the beets are best boiled or steamed until tender, then cooled and sliced before cutting into hearts. For the potatoes, cut raw russet potatoes into 1/4-inch slices and arrange in a single layer on a baking pan to roast until tender. You can then arrange some of the cooked potato and beet hearts on top of (or surrounding) the quinoa loaf when ready to serve.
Serve the loaf with your favorite brown gravy or red wine sauce. It can also be topped with a balsamic reduction or even ketchup for a comfort food meal destined to warm hearts on Valentine’s Day.
Red Quinoa Loaf
If red quinoa is unavailable, regular beige quinoa may be used. This is especially fun to serve in a heart-shaped pan on Valentine’s Day, but if you don’t have one, you can make the loaf in a square or round baking pan or in a loaf pan.
- 1 cup red quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups water
- 1 (15.5-ounce) can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 3/4 cup cooked diced red beets plus 1 tablespoon beet cooking liquid
- 3/4 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup ground walnuts
- 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried savory
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Combine the quinoa and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and the water is absorbed.
- Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. (You can cook the quinoa well ahead, if desired, and refrigerate it until needed).
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Lightly oil an 8- or 9-inch baking pan (heart-shaped if possible) or spray with non-stick spray and set aside.
- In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients except the cooked quinoa and process to combine well.
- The mixture should be finely ground but with some texture remaining.
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add the reserved quinoa, stirring to mix well.
- Taste and adjust the seasonings, then transfer the mixture evenly into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
- Cover and bake until firm, about 45 minutes.
- Remove the foil and let the loaf cool for 10 to 15 minutes then carefully turn out onto a plate by placing a plate over the loaf and inverting it so that the loaf is now on the plate and ready to serve.
Serves 4 to 6