Cruising Cuisine – Ground Pork & Quinoa (AKA…what do I do with this??)

I was recently asked to show some of what we eat on board the boat.  We’ve caught some fresh fish along the way and I even bought some JUST CAUGHT shrimp from the Mercado del Mar in La Cruz a couple days ago, which I made into a pasta dish, but I didn’t take photos of deveining and shelling the seafood, so I’m going to give you an idea of what happens on non-fresh days.

Most of the time, right after breakfast, we assess if we need to pull something out of our freezer to defrost for dinner.  I say most of the time, because there are definitely days when we forget, especially when we’re in great places with great local food.  Maybe we’re subliminally sabotaging dinner so we make ourselves go ashore….

Yesterday I realized that we’d put a roll of Farmer John’s mild ground pork sausage in the fridge a couple days earlier.  It was still good, but we don’t like to let any meat sit in the fridge too long.  It’s a deep fridge; if you think you’ll get back to something, most likely you discover it weeks later hiding in the bottom corner.

Usually I use the ground pork in a meat sauce for pasta, but I’d just made pasta the night before with our fresh shrimp (seriously, need to remember to show you how I deveined those suckers),  So, what to do?  Make sausage?  Put it with what?  I’m not very clever in the kitchen. I like a recipe to follow.  Luckily we have internet access at the moment, so I typed in ground pork recipes and came up with a bevy of info.  Mainly, that I can probably substitute any recipe calling for ground beef with the ground pork.  Nice. 

I’d just bought fresh heads of romaine and I had some green onions that needed to be used plus a head of garlic that had seen better days (but still edible…it’s all about finding what needs to be used pronto on a boat!).  So I thought…maybe some lettuce wraps with some crumbled pork, browned with green onions, garlic, and some diced up bell peppers.  I’d had something similar once at PF Changs a long time ago…something about the crunchy lettuce wraps sounded really good.  But…my man can eat…so WHAT ELSE to pair it with???

I opened our pantry and started rummaging. I felt a box in the back and pulled in forward.  It was a box of Trader Joe’s quinoa (pronounced keen-wha) that our HaHa crew had bought and never used while they were on board.  I’d never had quinoa let alone cooked it, but the directions on the box sounded super easy (just like rice, but faster).  I figured the pork dish would work with a little carb something or other, but if we didn’t like the quinoa, then I could just roll the pork into tortillas.  Dave likes anything with a tortilla.

Come to find out – Quinoa? – DELICIOUS.  I boiled it in water with a chicken bouillon cube and then let it simmer for 15 minutes until all the water was absorbed. 

Dave and I really enjoyed my little makeshift, smorgasbord dinner.  The pork concoction was super tasty on its own, but the quinoa made it a little more filling, plus it ended up pairing with the pork really, really nicely. 

CruisingCuisine 007

Monday night’s dinner…Pork lettuce wraps with a side of quinoa.

Today for lunch I reheated the leftovers (the pork and quinoa all together) and put it on tostada chips.  Great leftovers!  Super filling lunch with the quinoa.

CruisingCuisine 008

Tuesday’s lunch…ground pork and quinoa leftovers on top of crispy tostadas.  Fresh guac is spread on top of the tostada and then the pork/quinoa on top of that.  Super duper tasty.

Here’s the basic recipe.  Let me know if you try it and/or if you have suggestions for next time!

Pork Lettuce Wraps w/Quinoa

Ingredients Used:
-1lb mild pork sausage; defrosted
-A stalk or two of a green onion; diced  (sorry, no exact measurement here…had already diced a bunch of green onion a head of time for other meals, so it was whatever I had leftover…guestimate how much you’d like)
-3 small cloves of garlic (prob about 1.5 to 2 regular sized cloves)
-Diced green, red and/or yellow bell peppers…really just for color, so whatever amount you have.
-Sprinkling of ground ginger to taste (you can use fresh ginger I’m assuming, but, where to find in Mexico??  I thought the ground stuff was just as tasty.)
-1 cup of quinoa; cooked as box directs.
-1 chicken bouillon cube (optional)
-Large pieces of romaine lettuce or tostada chips (Need something crunchy!)
-Cilantro and Guac for garnishing

Directions:
1) Cook quinoa according to box directions. Mine was one cup of quinoa with two cups of water. I added one chicken bouillon cube with the water.  Bring to boil, then lower heat & cover pot to simmer for 15 minutes until all the water is absorbed.
2) Brown pork in skillet. About halfway through the browning, add in the onion, garlic and ginger
3) When the meat is pretty much cooked, add in the bell peppers so they can warm up and soften a bit.
4) Add the pork mixture onto lettuce cups (or tostada chips)
5) You can serve the quinoa on the side of the lettuce wraps or you can add it into the pork mixture and serve together.
6) Top lettuce wraps with cilantro and/or fresh guacamole for fun.

Enjoy!

-SME

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