Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Quinoa is a delicately flavored grain that was a staple in the ancient Incas' diet. One of the world's true super foods, quinoa is a complete protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids. Quinoa is also a great source of fiber and iron. Quinoa is an especially awesome for vegetarians and vegans who are concerned about getting enough protein in their diets. Although I think of quinoa as a chewy or nutty grain, similar to rice or couscous, it is actually a seed of a leafy plant, related to spinach and Swiss chard. It is rich in flavor and makes a wonderful side dish or meal as the weather heats up and you are looking for innovative treats to delight your family and friends.

Aileen’s Awesome Quinoa Salad

2 cups quinoa

4 cups vegetable stock

2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 large bunch chives, chopped

1/2-cup young mung bean sprouts

1/2 cup raw pine nuts

1/3 cup olive oil or walnut oil

1 lime or Meyer lemon juiced

2 cloves garlic, minced

Pinch sea salt

Bring quinoa and vegetable broth to a boil. Cover; reduce heat to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. While quinoa is cooking, chop tomatoes and chives. Mix dressing. Remove quinoa from heat. Allow to cool. Fluff quinoa and add vegetables and pine nuts. Gently mix dressing into quinoa mixture. Serve cold or warm. Serves 6.

Quinoa Risotto
1-cup quinoa
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-cup vegetable broth
1-cup milk
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Rinse and drain quinoa three times, using a fine mesh strainer to remove the bitter outer coating. Heat olive oil in a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until soft, stirring constantly. Add garlic and quinoa and continue stirring a minute or two. Stir in broth and milk. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low and simmer until quinoa is tender, stirring occasionally, approximately 10-12 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook another 3-5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat. Add cheese and let stand a few minutes, so risotto can thicken.
Chicken and Quinoa salad

2 cups quinoa
4 cups water
Salt to taste
1-cup pine nuts, toasted
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Pepper to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1 1/2 cups green and red grapes, quartered

Bring water to a boil. Stir quinoa and a pinch of salt into water. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until quinoa is tender and all the liquid is absorbed. Uncover and let cool. Whisk vinegar and oil. Add chicken, grapes, pine nuts and quinoa. Toss well and add salt and pepper to taste.
Black Bean and Lime Quinoa

Juice and zest from 3 limes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-tablespoon vegetable oil
1-cup quinoa
1 (14- to 15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium tomatoes, diced
4 scallions, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together lime zest and juice, oils salt, pepper in a large bowl. Wash quinoa in 3 changes of cold water in a bowl, draining in a sieve each time. Cook quinoa in a medium pot of boiling salted water (, uncovered, until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in sieve, then set sieve in same pot with 1 inch of simmering water (water should not touch bottom of sieve). Cover quinoa with a folded kitchen towel, then cover sieve with a and steam over medium heat until tender, fluffy, and dry, about 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat and remove lid. Let stand, still covered with towel, 5 minutes.

Curried Quinoa

2 cups quinoa
4 cups water
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2-cup raisins
2 large tomatoes
4 carrots, grated
1-cup sweet peas
1 green bell pepper
4 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1-teaspoon cumin
½ cup cilantro, chopped
Kosher Salt

In a good sized pot, sauté quinoa kernels in a little bit of olive oil about 4 minutes, then pour in water, cover, and let boil about 15 minutes until absorbed. Cut up veggies while you wait. When water absorbed, fluff with a fork and add spices and all veggies except for shredded carrots and cilantro. After stirring a good 30 seconds on heat, remove, dish into bowls, and garnish with carrot and cilantro.

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