quinoa two ways

Quinoa is a neat grain (well, technically it’s a seed but it’s grain-like). I had it for the first time about 5 months ago, and declared, “Where have you been all my life?!” It doesn’t look like much on the shelf, but then you cook it and those little curly things come out. I don’t know why but I just love that. It’s just more interesting than rice. Plus, it’s packed full of protein, essential amino acids, fiber, phosphorous, magnesium, and iron. So there’s really no excuse to eat rice anymore.

Here a quick and easy quinoa recipe that I threw together the other night (pictured above). This is the first time we’ve tried red quinoa. It tastes pretty similar to white, but has a slightly nuttier, stronger flavor. It’s also a lot spunkier than the boring (but still awesome) white variety.

quinoa and black bean salad
inspired by this Epicurious recipe

1 cup red (or white) quinoa, rinsed*
1 1/2 cups water or chicken/vegetable stock
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup cilantro
1 large handful grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup shredded cheese

1 or 2 tablespoons lime juice
1 or 2 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of sea salt

*If the quinoa is not pre-rinsed, then rinse it first. I usually put it in a fine mesh strainer and run cold water over it for a good solid minute or two. If you skip this step it will taste a little bitter and be difficult to digest. But most boxed quinoa is pre-rinsed, in which case you can skip this step.

Throw the quinoa and water or stock into a medium sized pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer until the curly things appear (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and add tomatoes and cilantro.

Mix together the lime joice, olive oil, and salt. I didn’t actually measure these, hence the non-precise amounts in the ingredient list. Start with a little of each. Dump into the pot and stir. Add more lime juice, olive oil, and/or salt to taste. Add the cheese and stir, or sprinkle it on top when you serve.

You can eat this warm or cold. We ate it warm for dinner, and then cold for lunch the next day. Both ways were good. You could also add some garlic to the lime juice and oil mixture. You could add fresh corn, red peppers, zucchini, or whatever vegetables you like. Play with it.

There are so many possibilities with quinoa, and I have a lot more experimenting to do. My favorite so far is this next dish. It’s got a little bit of spice from the curry and a little sweetness from the brown sugar, cinnamon, and golden raisins. We used shrimp but you could use chicken or tofu instead. You could leave the chick peas out, you could add sweet potatoes (we do this on occasion). You get the point. It’s pretty versatile. The other great thing about this one is that it requires ONE POT, so no fighting over who has to do the dishes.

And tonight I enjoyed this Green’s dubbel dark ale with my quinoa.

curry quinoa
inspired by a recipe in Pillsbury: Fast and Healthy Cookbook: 350 Easy Recipes for Every Day

1 1/3 cups chicken stock (make sure it’s GF)
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon (plus a smidge) curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 can chick peas (optional)
1/3 cup golden raisins (optional)
1/2 pound or so shrimp (or chicken)
1 cup quinoa, rinsed* (see note above)

Throw everything into a pot except the quinoa and bring to a boil. Then add quinoa, lower heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the white curly things appear and the liquid is mostly absorbed.

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