For those of you who are not familiar with quinoa (keen-wah), it is an ancient grain of the Incas that imparts a fluffy, nut-like taste to it when cooked. It is the only grain that contains all nine essential amino acids, meaning it’s a complete protein, as well as being high in magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorous, and manganese. Quinoa cooks up in about fifteen minutes, making it a great choice for a quick meal and can be substituted for almost any grain in your recipe.
Quinoa can be utilized in all of your meals from breakfast to dessert! Here are just a few ideas for incorporating quinoa into your diet. For a wholesome breakfast, have quinoa topped with cinnamon, walnuts, and a few fresh berries (while still in season) or topped with some dried fruit of your choice.
A great lunch is quinoa tabouli (http://www.quinoa.net/181.html), which is a middle-eastern salad usually made with bulgur (another whole grain). This salad has wonderful flavors from parsley, basil, mint, and scallions, along with fresh, squeezed lemon juice.
Here’s a great dinner recipe utilizing quinoa and fresh vegetables. The recipe was adapted from Jenny Stacey from What’s Cooking Vegetarian, Thunder Bay Press, 1999.
Vegetable Quinoa Bake
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1 cup water or stock
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup vegetable stock
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
- 1 zucchini, sliced
- 3/4 cup broccoli, chopped
- 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1/2 cup grated part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 1 tomato, chopped
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup herb millet croutons, crushed (any croutons/breadcrumbs will work)
Rinse the quinoa and drain well. Place quinoa, water, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer 15-20 minutes or until all water is absorbed.
Heat the vegetable stock in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic, carrot, zucchini, and broccoli and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Mix the quinoa with the sunflower seeds and mixed herbs and stir into the pan. Stir in half the mozzarella cheese, tomato, and season with sea salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon the mixture into an ovenproof dish and top with the croutons and remaining cheese. Cook in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese begins to turn golden. Serve at once.
I would love to hear your favorite quinoa recipes or creative ways you incorporate this wholesome grain into your diet.