I’m Cuckoo for Quinoa!

by

Hi, I'm Josh Miller, President of the Quinoa Council

I am obsessed with quinoa. It is an absolute wonder-grain. Yep, I said Wonder Grain. I’m not ashamed — I am a total dork in my love for this stuff!

I’ve been cooking with it for years, and Matthew’s a fan — he shared a quinoa salad recipe years ago, and I alluded to its greatness in a post of my own starring avocado bisque. But these paltry posts don’t do my darling quinoa justice.

So, just in case you’re not already cuckoo for quinoa, let me tell you why you should join my culinary lovecult.

Quinoa — The Healthy Alternative
Quinoa has, like SO much protein. This is unusual for grains. And as for other sides like rice, potatoes, and couscous — forget it! Quinoa lays the nutritional smackdown on those punks. Here’s a close-up look:

I'm so happy that David was around to photograph. Whenever I use my point-n-shoot, my hands look like "The Curse of the Monkey Paw."

Quinoa — She’s Fancy
Quinoa has a cool name. It’s pronounced KEEN-WA. Not “Quin-Oh-Ah” like I referred to it for years. Keen-Wa! Like you’re about to karate chop a brick in half. Say with me now: “Keen-WA!” Do it! “Keen-WA!” See, it’s fun.

Quinoa — Versatility is Her Middle Name
It goes with EVERYTHING. You know, sometimes potatoes just don’t go with your meal. Like, who eats potatoes with Asian food? And pasta as a side is just silly. Quinoa is neutral but nutty, a rich flavor that spanks rice in the taste department. Beat, it basmati — quinoa is way tastier!

Quick Quinoa — The Easy-Going Grain
Quinoa’s so easy to cook a four-year-old can do it. Unlike RICE, which I still mess up EVERY SINGLE TIME. And I have a rice cooker! For quinoa, it’s easy — just one part quinoa, two parts water, done! Bring to a boil together, reduce to low, simmer for 15 minutes, DONE.

Spend Every Meal with Lady Quinoa
Quinoa is the perfect side dish at dinner, but it’s also a great option for a filling vegetarian lunch. I’m not saying you have to become a celery-licker and munch on a bowl of alfalfa sprouts, but a little less wouldn’t hurt. In fact, you can make a pilaf of sorts with quinoa and sauteed veggies, have it as a side at supper, and then take the leftovers for lunch. Here’s a quick recipe for one I just made (and that I’m having for lunch today!)…

Quinoa with Sweet Corn and Basil
4 servings

1 cup of quinoa
2 cups water (or chicken/vege broth)
2 ears of corn, shucked and de-cobbed (yes, i made that word up)
half a red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup of basil, chopped
salt, pepper*, and olive oil

Shuck and de-cob your corn, then dice your onions. Here’s mine and Matthew’s little trick for corn…

A bundt pan is a corn shucker's best friend! Photo not by David.

Combine your quinoa and water in a saucepan (adding salt if not using broth); bring to a boil, then reduce heat to LOW, cover, and cook undisturbed for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, sauté your onions in several teaspoons of olive oil for 5-7 minutes, seasoning to taste. Add garlic and cook for one minute, then add corn and sauté for another 3 or so. Watch it — the corn has more sugar and starts to stick. If you have a little extra basil, toss in about a tablespoon as you sauté, but reserve the bulk of it. Once your quinoa is done, fluff with a fork, then add to the veggie pan. Stir in reserved basil, and you’re done!

I snapped this in a hurry. Again, photo NOT by David. 😉

*Note: I used Penzey’s Shallot Pepper as my primary seasoning. I recommend traveling to Homewood posthaste and picking some up. It may just be the best seasoning ever.

Well now you’ve gone and gotten me distracted. What was I talking about? Quinoa…obession…oh yeah — you can eat it at every meal! It’s healthy, remember, and packed with protein, so you can treat it like oatmeal. In fact, it’s better than oatmeal, because it doesn’t look like throw-up. I added a 1/4 tsp of almond extract while cooking, then a TBSP of honey, a squeeze of orange juice, then stirred in some chopped walnuts and craisins. A dollop of yogurt turned this into a suitable breakfast alternative. I had it this morning and I am still full! Take a look:

Quinoa is part of a healthy, balanced breakfast! Photo by David

I’ll be honest, I’m a bigger fan of it in savory applications, but you gotta love quinoa’s versatility. It’s the little black dress of grains.

So go grab a box today (you can find it at Publix and Whole Foods) … and start playing with flavor and veggie combinations. It’s easy and forgiving, and that’s why we love it — Quinoa: The Quintessential Mischief Grain.™  😉

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9 Responses to “I’m Cuckoo for Quinoa!”

  1. southerninspiration Says:

    GREAT tip about the bundt pan for the corn!!! Love that! and that recipe looks scrumptious! Gonna try me some quinoa! I’ve known about it but never tried it….why NOT????
    Thanks!
    Suzanne

    • Josh Says:

      Thanks, Suzanne! It’s my favorite side dish right now. I just have to try and not wear it out! Have a great weekend!

  2. Theda Says:

    I just bought Quinoa and didn’t know what to do with it! Thank you for sharing some inspiration! I like the bundt pan idea too! Fun!

  3. Leigh Bratina, Bloggeritaville Says:

    Soooo enjoyed reading this. Am def going to try Quinoa…but the Bundt pan idea!!!! Why didnt I think of that? Ingenious!!!!!

    (friend of David’s from elem. school!)

  4. Carla Jean Says:

    Josh, this entry (and the fact that I’ve eaten SO badly this week) reminds me that you’ve threatened to give me a food makeover. And I think you should.

    Just sayin’.

    (I’m totally going to try that breakfast quinoa.)

    • Josh Says:

      I forgot about the food makeover! Anytime, CJ! Good luck with the breakfast version. It was not my favorite, but still interesting. I’m a savory fan. 😉

  5. Michele Says:

    I really am a huge couscous lover but I will definitely pick up a box of quinoa at trader joe’s and try your recipe. By the way love the whole karate chop image. Made me literally lol.

    Ever watch Brian Boitano’s show on the food network? You should be his sidekick! lol

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