Monday, August 16, 2010

How to make quinoa

Once upon a time my friend Stephanie and I attended an all day women’s health event. At the silent auction, we bid-on and won sessions with a nutritionist. The package was intended for an individual, however we convinced her to see both of us for fewer sessions.

Each session was 2 hours and we met at different natural and main stream grocery stores. After our lessons on whole foods (as in not processed, not the actual store), she would take us on a grocery store tour. I think I can speak for both of us when I say we learned a lot. One of the many new foods we learned about was quinoa. We learned about it's protein-packing nutritional benefits and then tried it mixed in a healthy salad. It was delicious, yet we both got the impression it was hard to make and never did…until now.

When I lived on Cragmont Ave, Rachel whipped up some quinoa in her rice cooker. I was blown away at how easy it was and quickly began incorporating it into a lot of meals. I think it makes a side dish, or can be made into a meal of its own.

In case you were in the dark on quinoa like me, here’s how to cook it: 
Rice cooker (my preference):
Simply treat the quinoa like rice. Add 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa. Stir, cover and cook. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Stove top:
Rinse 1 part quinoa in clean water.
Meanwhile, bring 1 1/2 parts of water to a boil in a sauce pan.
Turn heat to low and add the quinoa. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Do not remove the lid while the quinoa is cooking.
Quinoa is done when all liquid is absorbed. Allow pot to stand for 5 minutes.
Fluff with a fork and serve.

For added flavor, substitute all or part of the water for vegetable or chicken broth.

Since my quinoa revelation I’ve been seeking out more recipes that include it. This is one of my new favorite from the dish on delish. I’ve made a few minor tweaks to the recipe (adding less onion and black beans) and agree with her suggestion to serve it with zucchini quesadillas!

Black Bean and Corn Quinoa Salad
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
1 cup frozen sweet white corn
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Stir in onions and garlic and sauté until lightly browned.

Add quinoa and cover with broth. Stir in cumin, cayenne pepper and season with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes (or until all the liquid is absorbed).

Stir in frozen corn and black beans until heated through. Remove from heat and add chopped cilantro. Serve warm, room temperature or cold. 

We top our salad and quesadilla with guacamole and fresh salsa – yum!


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