I’ve been crazy about quinoa (KEEN-wah) for a while now. It’s my go to grain, replacing rice and couscous. It has a nutty flavor, fluffy and fun consistency and loves to be flavored! Plus it’s high in protein, making it a great substitute for meat, which for people like me who eat minimal amounts of meat makes a perfect dietary supplement. (Gluten free too!) I love that Costco sells big bags of it, since it can get pricey at the grocery store.
So what do I do with this super grain? I mainly make salads, pilafs and fried quinoa. (Yup you heard me right! Fried quinoa is exactly like fried rice but with quinoa instead.) Quinoa is so versatile that pretty much any recipe that calls for rice or couscous (even pasta like orzo) can be made with quinoa instead. I also love that it keeps really well in the refrigerator, lending itself quite well to big bulk cooking (with a friend of course!) and eating it throughout the week as a side dish or light lunch. Even my white rice loving 6 year old likes it!
I mostly improvise when I cook with quinoa, mixing together fresh vegetables (roasted, or sautéed), a handful of frozen veggies sometimes (corn, peas or edamame), a touch of cheese (feta, queso fresco or even blue cheese) and then season away with ginger, curry powder, cumin or garlic. A squeeze of lemon or lime, a few tablespoons of olive oil and a touch of salt and you’ve got a great quinoa salad.
Another food to add to my list of CREATIVE foods! And anyone who knows me and how I cook knows that this is right up my alley. What do you like to do with quinoa? Here’s one of my favorite throw together quinoa salads:
Tabouli Inspired Quinoa Salad
Makes 1 ½ quarts
1 cup quinoa cooked in 2 cups stock (chicken or veggie) and fluffed with a fork
4 scallions, chopped with some of the greens
1 large firm tomato, seeded and diced
½ large seedless cucumber, peeled and diced
¼ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
3 tablespoons feta cheese
juice from one lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon cumin
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
Pepper to taste
Mix quinoa, scallions, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, mint and feta in a medium sized bowl. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper. Pour over the quinoa and mix gently. Keep in a container in the refrigerator and enjoy for several days.