Thursday, August 4, 2011

Quinoa...Its What's for Dinner!

One of my favorite things is getting my cooking magazines in the mail. Its so fun to look over new recipes, and its also fun because it seems in the foodie world there are certain food items that become the "it" ingredient. And it seems like recently that "it" ingredient is Quinoa! I had never even heard of it before last year and then all the sudden I can't hide from this mystery ingredient. So one day I decided to try it. And I loved it! The greatest thing about Quinoa is that it is super healthy. According to wikipedia:

"this crop has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), and like oats, quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it a complete protein source, unusual among plant foods.[12] It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest."

So there you go! It tastes good and its good for you! So basically any recipe that calls for rice or couscous you can easily substitute Quinoa for. Here are two recipes that I have kind of improvised that my husband and I both enjoy. And two big bonuses! Its perfect for summer because you can eat it cold and its tasty. And secondly, it makes for very tasty leftovers. You can make one of these recipes and just eat them for lunch all week! Yum yum!

First, here is the basics on how to cook Quinoa. Its pretty similar to couscous and rice. You need 2 parts liquid to 1 part quinoa. First, you need to rinse the Quinoa. Then add to a pot with the liquid ( I always use broth instead of water, to give it a nice flavor) bring to a simmer, cover pot for 15 minutes. Then remove from heat, keep lid on and let stand for 5 minutes. Then fluff with a fork and add to one of the following tasty salads:

Mango, Avacado and Black Bean Quinoa Salad

1 mango, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 tomato, diced
1/4 cup red onion diced
1 can black beans, rinsed
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 garlic cloved, chopped
1 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups broth
1/2 t. cumin
3 T olive oil
1 1/2 T red wine vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
cooked shrimp (optional)

First chop up mango through the garlic and add to a large bowl. You can do this hours before. I usually do it during the day with my little boy in the baby bjorn. He loves to watch me chop veggies!

Next, combine broth, quinoa and cumin in a pot. Quinoa will triple in bulk so make sure your pot is big enough. Cook according to instructions above.

Once Quinoa is cooked, add to the chopped produce and add oil and vinegar and salt and pepper. Toss well and add cooked shrimp or chicken if desired. You can eat this warm or cold.

This makes about 6 servings.

Greek Quinoa Salad
1-2 tomatoes, chopped
1 small cucumber cut into cubes
1/4 cup chopped red onions
1 can chick peas, rinsed
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup pitted kalmata olives
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups broth
1 t. dried oregano
3 T olive oil
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste.
Crumbled feta cheese

Follow the instructions for the previous salad. Chop produce, cook quinoa and add vinegar and oil, and sprinkle with feta cheese. Simple as that.

Now you have the building blocks to make all kinds of yummy quinoa salads. Makes for a great dinner, lunch and leftovers!
these recipes were adapted from recipes I found on and


  1. I've never tried quinoa either. But you're right about how you can be completely unaware of a certain ingredient and then all of a sudden, it is EVERYWHERE. I've seen a ton of recipes for quinoa. Now that I know how many benefits there are to quinoa, I'll have to try it!

    By the way, if anyone is unsure of how to pronounce it (for the longest time, I had no idea), it is pronounced "kee-nwa."

  2. Karrie makes a quinoa stuffed bell pepper that she said is really good. I really must look into trying this new "in" ingredient.