Thursday, September 8, 2011

For the Love of Quinoa...

Quinoa...what a weird name for such an awesome little food! Even though I know it's pronounced KEEN-wah, I always want to call it Kin-oh-ah...but however you say it, it's a something that I've been cooking with more and more in the past couple of years, and I just realized I've never blogged about so I figured it was high time! While most people assume that quinoa is a grain, it's actually a seed that is more closely related to spinach and other leafy green veggies. What this means is that it's jam-packed with nutrients, but it acts like a grain in terms of incorporating it recipes. It comes in a variety of colors, however, I'd say that yellow is the most commonly used type. Quinoa is very high in protein, but what's so great about it is that it's a complete protein, meaning it's a great choice if you have a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. It's also high in fiber and has lots of other good-for-you things such as minerals which can improve your overall health. Plus, the ancient Incas ate it, so you know it's good. For more information on quinoa's nutritional benefits, check out this website.

What I like about quinoa is that when it's cooked it's fluffy and delicate (almost like couscous) but it's got a subtle nutty flavor to it. You can find it in most grocery stores, and it's generally an item that would be sold in the bulk section of Whole Foods or similar stores, and that's typically how I buy mine as it's usually cheaper, plus you don't waste all the packaging. It's an extremely versatile ingredient that can easily be incorporated in dishes year round. Recently, I made two different meals, one more summery and the other cold-weather comfort food, but they both call for this mighty little "grain".  Here are the recipes, and hopefully they'll encourage you to give quinoa a try if it's something you've never cooked with before! (And if you're a quinoa lover like me, hopefully you'll enjoy them too!)



Chickpea Quinoa Salad is a perfect summer side dish and it's delicious both hot and cold. I will typically make a big batch of a salad like this, and then I'll eat the leftovers for lunch and I love that it's a lot more filling and nutritious than a normal summer side like pasta salad. I've included the original recipe, but this really one of those salads where you could pretty much throw in whatever you've got in your fridge...next time I think I'm going to try adding some crumbled feta cheese! (Also, I didn't get step by step photos of this recipe, but it's fairly simple, so I just captured the finished product!)

(Recipe from Foodie Reflections)

Ingredients

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 ears corn kernels, kernels removed and cobs discarded
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 scallions green part only, sliced thin (I omitted the scallions and used fresh herbs instead)

Directions

(When I made the salad, I ran out of time and didn't roast the red pepper, I just chopped it up cooked it in the skillet with the corn, but I'm sure it would be delicious if you followed this step!) Begin by roasting the red bell pepper: Preheat the broiler and set the rack in the center of the oven. Rub 1/2 teaspoon olive oil on the red pepper and place it on a foil-lined broiler pan. Broil until the pepper is charred on all sides, about 5 minutes per side. Once charred, place the pepper in a metal bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Cool to room temperature then peel off the charred skin and discard. Remove the seeds and discard. Cut the pepper into small pieces and set aside.

To cook the quinoa, begin by rinsing it very well in a fine mesh sieve under cold running water. Drain then combine with 2 cups water and a pinch of salt in a medium pot. Bring the water to a boil then decrease the heat to low and cover. Simmer covered for 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Cool to room temperature. (Another one of my favorite types for cooking quinoa is to cook it in chicken broth instead of water, it makes it more flavorful!)

Heat the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil in a saute pan set over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add the corn. Cook, stirring often, until the corn is cooked through, about 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the burner and cool to room temperature.

To assemble the salad, combine the quinoa, roasted red pepper, corn mixture, chickpeas, salt, pepper, lemon juice and half the sliced scallions in a large bowl. Mix well and adjust seasonings to taste. Transfer the quinoa to a serving dish and garnish with remaining scallions. Serve at room temperature or warm if desired. (It's also yummy cold!)


Turkey and Quinoa Meatloaf is an awesome healthified take on an American classic. This week there's been a chill in the air here in Colorado, and it seems as if fall just suddenly showed up. Yesterday was really rainy, so I was craving some comfort food and when I came across this recipe, I thought it would be perfect. Cam was very skeptical at first when he saw me putting quinoa in the meatloaf (he thought it was going to be a side dish), but he ended up loving the finished product. It works really well in place of bread crumbs as far as the texture goes, and it's definitely a recipe I'll be making again.

(Recipe from AllRecipes)


Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 (20 ounce) package ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon water

Directions 

Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, and the water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool. 

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute; remove from heat to cool. 


The combination of these three ingredients make the meatloaf very flavorful!
 
Stir the turkey, cooked quinoa, onions, tomato paste, hot sauce, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire, egg, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until well combined (I've found that using your hands works best!) The mixture will be very moist. 

Shape into a loaf on a foil lined baking sheet. Combine the brown sugar, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire, and 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl. Rub the paste over the top of the meatloaf. 

Bake in the preheated oven until no longer pink in the center, about 50 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). Let the meatloaf cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. 

I paired the meatloaf with roasted asparagus and mashed sweet potatoes (another awesome food that packs a serious nutritional punch!) for a more healthful spin on meat and potatoes :)
Ps: Did any other SNL/NPR fans see this exciting news yesterday? Ben and Jerry's is actually going to make Schweddy Balls Ice Cream...hilarious. I'm definitely going to be keeping my eye out for it because I think the flavor sounds delicious, plus it's just too funny not to try. This skit always makes me laugh :)


3 comments:

  1. I love quimoa too! The recipes look really good. I usually end up serving it with black beans or just as a side, like you would with rice, but these things jazz it up a lot!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've never had quiona before, but this looks delicious! Thanks for sharing! I cannot wait to try it. I love new recipes :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hmmmm...never heard of it before! I think I'll have to try it!

    ReplyDelete

Your sweet words make my day! :)

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