Expand Your Horizon and Try This Quinoa Recipe

Quinoa (usually pronounced keen-wah) is often described as a type of grain, though if you want to get technical about it, it’s not really a grain, much in the way that a tomato isn’t technically a vegetable, but nobody cares unless they’re studying botany or they’re in the mood to be pedantic. The plant is native to South America, and was a major food source for the Incas. When people talk about quinoa in the context of food, they’re probably talking about its small, lentil-shaped seeds, although the plant also has edible leaves. The leaves, however, tend not to be sold in supermarkets.

It’s the quinoa nutrition facts, in large part, that are responsible for its popularity. The seeds of the quinoa plant are a source of complete protein, meaning that they contain a reasonable balance of all of the essential amino acids. The total protein content is similar to what you’ll find in whole grains such as wheat, but most plant sources of protein are incomplete, meaning you’d need to combine more than one type of food to obtain all the amino acids your body needs. In addition to protein, quinoa offers an assortment of B vitamins, and is a good source of iron and other minerals. These nutrients make it a particularly valuable food for vegetarians and vegans. Quinoa also happens to be gluten free.

By itself, though, quinoa is bland, and few people enjoy eating it plain. This is where quinoa recipes come in. Broadly speaking, quinoa can be prepared much like rice. It typically comes dry in a box or a bag, and must be rinsed well to remove the bitter residue of saponins, then cooked in water to soften it up. Cooked quinoa can be used in a variety of dishes with vastly different flavors, just like rice. It may also be ground into flour and used for baking. Raw quinoa is sometimes germinated in cold water, and then used in salads without cooking it first. Germinating the quinoa supposedly increases its vitamin content.

Don’t be intimidated by the exotic-sounding name. There are some really easy quinoa recipes that will allow you to enjoy the nutritional benefits of this plant without having to learn how to cook using hot stones and guinea pig meat (two other mainstays of Incan cuisine.) Quinoa can be boiled for about fifteen minutes, or prepared in a rice cooker following the same directions you’d use to cook rice. Two cups of water with one cup of dry quinoa will yield three cups of cooked quinoa. You can use broth instead of water to add flavor, or use plain cooked quinoa instead of rice to make pilaf. Another simple option is to substitute it for couscous in tabouli salad. There are also quinoa recipes that closely resemble fried rice recipes.

There’s a lot more you can do with quinoa than just treating it like boiled rice, though. In fact, there are probably quinoa recipes for just about anything. (Granted, quinoa ice cream might not be very good.) Quinoa flour can be used, with or without other types of flour, to produce all kinds of baked goods, from gluten free bread to donuts and cookies. There are quinoa recipes for pasta, too, and some specialty shops carry dried pasta made from quinoa flour. I’ve seen quinoa recipes for stuffed peppers and squash, for casseroles, for soup, and even quinoa burgers to cook on the grill.

If you don’t have a lot of time to experiment with quinoa recipes, you may also be able to find boxed quinoa seasoned with a variety of different flavors, sort of like boxes of rice that come in broccoli and cheese or butter and herb flavors. Check out your local natural foods store; you may be surprised by the number of ready-to-eat, or ready-in-minutes, products that are being made from quinoa these days.

 

Basic Quinoa Recipe

A very simple recipe to make basic quinoa stock, branch out from this and use it in place of standard rice and this super food will not let you down and it’s super easy to make

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Add quinoa and water to a 1 ½ quart saucepan and bring it to a boil, Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until all water is absorbed (15 minutes)
  2. When all the quinoa grains turn from white to transparent and the spiral germ has separated it’s done!