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:
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
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…
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!
*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:
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.™ 😉