Most of you know that B and I went on our honeymoon to Costa Rica. We stayed at the fabulous Casa Chameleon. It was unbelievable - lush, green, tropical, tranquil, intimate...basically perfect. If you're looking for a honeymoon locale or just a romantic vacation spot, look no further.
But while the private and upscale villas were wonderful, the best part of staying at Casa Chameleon, hands down, was the food. Oh my Lord, the food. We had a "half-board" food package, where we had breakfast and either lunch or dinner included each day. We always chose dinner because we were always off doing something during the day, and with dinner you get a whole bottle of wine each night.
Yeah, I was in heaven. But the FOOD. After the first night, we started keeping a food journal because we didn't want to forget ANY of this. For instance, our first meal included an appetizer of gulf (Costa Rica gulf) calamari marinated in beer, butter and cayenne pepper breaded and fried with a pepper sauce; a main course of gulf mackerel with yucca root, grilled local squash and tomatillo chutney; and dessert of local mini bananas flambeed with rum and orange juice topped with passion fruit coulis. I mean, seriously.
Even better, the "dining room" (which is open-air) is tiny and there were two other couples there, at most, so it was really like our own private chef's table. The chef would come out and talk to us and tell us about our food and answer any questions we may have, and believe me, we had a lot.
On our last night, my question was this: "How did you make this?!" My main course was pacific mackerel served over quinoa with tomatillo and baby tomato relish with broccoli (see below). But that wasn't just any ordinary quinoa.
See, I don't really LIKE quinoa. It's just...weird. It's in this netherworld of in-between, not really a starch but definitely not a vegetable. And the previous times I've had it, it's been like chewing on mashed-up Styrofoam. Like I said, weird.
But this...I DEVOURED this stuff. So when our talented and amazing chef, Pabro, came out to see how we liked our dinner, I knew I had to get this recipe. And because I'm a nice person, I'm sharing it with you. This stuff is so FLAVORFUL, filling and healthy. You can't go wrong. We served it with roasted tomatoes topped with roasted garlic and marinated shrimp, and it was the perfect meal after a LONG Monday.
1 cup red quinoa
1-2 heads garlic, roasted (I used this recipe) and roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped cashews, toasted
Roughly 1/4 cup lime juice
Roughly 1/4 cup coconut milk (we used Trader Joe's Light Coconut Milk)
Trader Joe's South African spice blend
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Rinse quinoa VERY well under cold water. Put into a small frying pan and toast on low-ish heat until the water has evaporated (this keeps it from being bitter).
Cook quinoa according to package directions.
Once the quinoa is cooked, stir in the diced garlic immediately.
Add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and Trader Joe's South African spice to taste (clearly this part did not come from Pabro, but from my own obsessive self)
Right before serving, stir in equal parts coconut milk and lime juice. We used slightly less than 100 milliliters of each, but you can add it in to taste.
Serve, and enjoy!*
*Amazing view and romantic villa not included. Bottle of wine to be consumed at your discretion :)