This week’s post is all about quinoa. Nutritionally speaking, quinoa is considered a “super grain” – although it’s really not a grain, but the seed of a leafy plant that’s distantly related to spinach (though it is treated as a grain in cooking). Quinoa has a light, delicate taste, and can be substituted for almost any other grain in recipes. It cooks quickly to a light, fluffy texture. It’s a staple in my household!
You can cook quinoa in a number of ways. The way you choose will depend on what type of recipe you are using it in. The most basic way to prepare it is by cooking it in water. The standard is one part quinoa to two parts water. For a nuttier taste, quinoa can be toasted in a hot dry pan for about 5 minutes before cooking.
I have created a lot of quinoa recipes for personal and professional use. My personal favorite just happens to be a recipe I created for Nestlé. This Moroccan Quinoa features a flavor-rich combination of quinoa, cilantro, pine nuts and currants. You can serve it as a side dish or add cooked meat or fish for a delicious entrée.
The secret to this recipe is that apple Juicy Juice is replacing half of the water. That’s right, Juicy Juice is not only a nutritious addition to your child’s lunchbox, it can be added to some of your favorite savory dishes!
It’s as easy as 1-2-3 to put together.
- Sauté shallots and garlic in a little oil in a medium saucepan.
- Add water, Juicy Juice, quinoa, bouillon and cumin. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; cook for 15 minutes or until most of liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat.
- Stir in currants. Cover; let stand for 5 minutes. Add cilantro and pine nuts; fluff with fork and serve.
Here are a few other ways I love to use quinoa:
Tacos – Add prepared ivory quinoa to cooked lean ground turkey or red quinoa to cooked lean ground beef to make filling for tacos. This is a nice way to boost nutrition and stretch the dollar. Quinoa is less expensive than meat, but more expensive than most grains. However, during cooking, it increases about three to four times in volume, so you get reasonable value for your money.
Stuffed Bell Peppers – Use cooked quinoa in place of rice in your favorite stuffed bell pepper recipe. My daughter and I love to prepare this recipe together.
Apple Quinoa Salad – Quinoa is wonderful in a cold salad. Here it’s cooked in apple juice, water and cinnamon. Fresh apples, celery, dried cherries, fresh mint and lemon are then added.
Risotto – Our contributor Liz likes to make Tomato Quinoa “Risotto.” She sautées garlic and onions in butter, then cooks the Quinoa in the same pan, according to package directions, replacing the water with creamy organic tomato soup and adding a little seasoning/bouillon. It’s easier, faster and more nutritious, plus you don’t have to stand over it stirring. Freshly grated Parmesan tops it off.
You can even have Quinoa for breakfast, I love this… hmmm. I’ll have to work on a breakfast Quinoa recipe next!