Quinoa Medley Recipe

20 09 2011

I’ve already posted about how to cook up quinoa and how to roast cherry tomatoes.  I freely admit that I take most of my directions and inspiration from this 101 Cookbooks recipe.  I riffed on it a bit, based on what I had available and my tastes.  If I made it again, I’d definitely lower the portion of quinoa down to 1.5-2 cups and add in more spinach because although it is the mother of all grains, I still prefer more veggies than grains.  It must be because of my rice phobia.  Don’t judge.

Quinoa Medley Recipe- Adapted from here.  Serves 6

  • Splash of olive oil
  • Dash of sea-salt
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (for instructions on how to cook it, see here)
  • 1 cup corn
  • 3/4 cup black beans
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1/3 cup of pesto + more to taste
  • 1/3 cup of toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup of roasted cherry tomatoes or sundried tomatoes (for the best roasted cherry tomatoes ever, see here)

Directions:

  1. Measure out your quinoa, corn, beans, spinach, pine nuts.  Maybe I’m slightly scatter brained, but I find it helpful to do this before I start, so I can dump it in as I go.
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and salt on medium-high heat.  Stir in onion and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in quinoa, corn, black beans and cook until sizzling, roughly 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in spinach until wilted and remove from heat.
  5. Stir in pesto and pine nuts.  Add more pesto to taste.
  6. Serve topped with cherry tomatoes.

This is a great vegetarian meal, or is a delicious side-dish.  I ate it with baked chicken and was stuffed.  You could throw in some tofu (a la the original recipe) or slice up some baked chicken and toss it through.  I think it would also be delicious with feta and chickpeas.  It is a great dish to use as a base and throw in whatever your pantry has.  Enjoy!





Cooking Quinoa

19 09 2011

I had my first taste of Quinoa in a Marks & Spencer’s ready-made grain salad with chickpeas, couscous and a variety of other yummy add-ins.  I didn’t know what it was, but I liked it.  A few vegetarian and vegan friends also mentioned cooking with it and I realised I had been blissfully unaware of quinoa as a grain option.  So, in true nerdy fashion, I did a little wikipedia-ing.  Originating from the Andes, the Incas believed quinoa to be sacred, calling it the “mother of all grains”.  During Spanish colonisation of the area, quinoa was forbidden and the Incas had to subsist on wheat as their grain.

Every time I asked one of my vegetarian friends how to cook quinoa, they looked at me as if I were painfully stupid and informed me that you cooked it up just like rice.  I’d like to take this time to admit that I am the worst rice-cooker, ever.  My rice is always over-cooked in a globby mess or under-cooked and brittle to the taste.  I had a friend in college who owned a rice cooker and I found myself asking her to make me perfect, slightly-sticky rice.  We’d cook together and end up sharing our meals, I miss the dorm-kitchen companionship.  Since then, I barely try or I use (I can’t believe I’m admitting this) boil-in-bag rice.  So, for anyone that is a little curious about where to start with the mother of all grains, I thought I’d include a recipe of how to cook it.

Quinoa Recipe- Yields about 5 or 6 cups of cooked quinoa

  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 4 cups water

Directions:

  1. Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer (if your quinoa is smaller than your strainer, line it with paper towel and pour through- water will get through, but quinoa will be trapped).  Make sure to rinse thoroughly, as there is a slightly bitter taste if you don’t.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the quinoa with the water until it boils.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer until the water is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Quinoa is finished when it has turned slightly transparent and you can see a spiral in the grain.  It will have a “pop” in each bite (I know that sounds crazy, but you will know what you mean when you try it).

Now, I will post a recipe using quinoa here tomorrow, but for now let me say that quinoa is a very malleable grain.  You can use it as a side of rice, a pilaf, in stir-frys, etc.  The sky is kind of the limit.  But if you want a delicious starting recipe, check back in tomorrow.  And if you’re lucky enough to be near to a M&S and want a no-cook option, try some of their delicious grain salads.  Yum.