Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Herbed Quinoa with Beans

I recently discovered why everyone has been talking about the amazingness known as quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) for the past couple of years.  It seems there is always some catch-food (similar to a catch-phrase: everyone is using it and any business possible tries to incorporate it into what they're doing so to draw people in because of said food's reputation, warranted or not) and once we got over acai we moved on to quinoa.  (Is one requirement of catch-foods that its name be impossible for the average American to pronounce?)

My first introduction to this nutrient-packed grain was through a salad a health-savvy friend of mine made.  It was quinoa, spinach, cilantro, cherry tomatoes, garbanzos, red onions, and avocado with a lemon juice/olive oil dressing.  Amazing.  After I seared the inside of my mouth with too much lemon juice from eating this salad every day for a week (almost), I began to hunt for other quinoa recipes.

I found this one on and cut the amount down so it would be just enough for me to take in my lunch the following day.  The only thing I did differently was that I used dried herbs rather than fresh, and when  it was done I added about a cup of seasoned pinto beans I cooked and seasoned myself (read: not out of a can).

I enjoyed this recipe so much I've made it three times now, with a couple of different add-ins.  I'll include my variations at the end of the quinoa recipe.  (NOTE: The recipe below is the full one found at foodnetwork; I divide everything by four to make just enough for myself for a meal.)

2 3/4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons lemon zest
salt and pepper
In a medium saucepan, add the stock, lemon juice, and quinoa. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan, and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 12 to 15 minutes.
In a small bowl (I use a clean baby food jar so I can just put the lid on and shake it), mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, basil, parsley, thyme, and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the dressing over the quinoa and toss until all the ingredients are coated. Transfer the quinoa to a bowl and serve.

Beans: Place dried pinto beans in a pot with plenty of water and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and let soak for at least one hour.  Return to boil, then reduce heat to med-low heat to simmer.  Add your choice of seasonings (my favourite combo: Cayenne pepper, Mexican seasoning, and garlic and onion powder) and let simmer for one hour (make sure there are small bubbles rolling on the surface otherwise they won't cook completely).  Once cooked, add to quinoa recipe above.

Vegetables: Place sliced zucchini, diced red pepper, and corn in a frying pan.  Add dried onion flakes (or fresh onion if you prefer) and any desired spices/seasonings.  Sautee (do NOT add oil) over med-high heat until soft.  Toss with quinoa recipe above.
Do you have a favourite quinoa recipe to share?

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