Lately, I’ve been a little bit obsessed with quinoa. In my quest to clean up my eating, I’ve rediscovered quinoa. Have you had it before? I’ve always thought of it as a good and interesting alternative to rice because it has a mild, nutty flavor. But really, it’s a tiny, ancient Peruvian seed related to spinach, beets and tumbleweed. But those little quinoa seeds pack a big nutritional punch. It’s a complete protein source, containing all the essential amino acids, is high in lysine (important for tissue growth and repair), is a good source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, and has a high iron content. That’s a lot for a tiny little seed.
Usually, I do use quinoa as a substitute for rice and you prepare it in the same way i.e. 1 cup quinoa to 1.5 cups water. It cooks in about 15 minutes. Quinoa has also been making its way into different kinds of salads, pancakes and a substitute for oatmeal in the morning. One note – quinoa does have a high fat content so it’s best to store it in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent it from going rancid.
Here are five of my favorite quinoa recipes:
- Quinoa Salad: This is a great sweet-savory salad that combine pears, feta and mint.
- Quinoa Caprese Salad: This recipe that Kristen at The Preppy Girl in Pink shared at Literal Mom is delicious and so super simple. I also made a different variation on this, using low-fat cottage cheese instead when I didn’t have mozzarella in the house and it was just as good.
- Breakfast Quinoa: I love cereal in the morning – hot or cold – and this is a great variation on that theme. Delicious and filling.
- Quinoa Blueberry Pancakes: These little gems? They are like little bits of heavens. I could eat the whole plate.
Quinoa Blueberry Pancakes (from Amy)
1 cup cooked quinoa
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg white
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1.Combine first 6 ingredients in large bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine egg, butter, milk, and syrup until smooth. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until combined. Add blueberries to mixture and stir until combined.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place 1/4 cup batter rounds on skillet and cook until golden brown. Serve with maple syrup or desired toppings. Makes about 8 pancakes.
The last recipe is one that my friend shared with me. Originally, the recipe called for barley but she changed it to quinoa and improvised.
Quinoa Salad with Dill and Lemon
- 1 1/4 cups quinoa
- 1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, chopped
- 1 large granny smith, fuji, or gala apple, unpeeled, cored and cut into small dice
- 1 cup chopped fresh dill
- 1/2 cup dried currants, raisins or golden raisins
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (1 juice lemon) plus 1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon rind
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
1. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 1/2 cups water, quinoa, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed.
2. In a large bowl, combine the scallions, apple, dill, currants or raisins, coriander, lemon juice and rind, and olive oil. Add the warm quinoa and mix well. Let stand for 20 minutes to give the quinoa a chance to absorb the seasonings. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate for a few hours and serve cold.
If that’s not enough recipes for you, here’s another round-up of recipes from the New York Times.
Do you use quinoa? What’s your favorite quinoa recipe? I would love to experiment more!