Get keen on quinoa with enticing new ways to include more of this super seed in your dishes
With a satisfying chew and mild, nutty taste, delectable quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is renowned as a wholesome and gluten-free ancient grain (though really a seed) with origins rooted in the Andean region of South America many centuries ago. Nowadays, it’s enjoyed around the world, thanks in part to its appealing flavour as well as its impressive array of vitamins and minerals.
Quinoa is both easy to prepare and incredibly versatile, whether enjoyed as part of Meatless Monday, in place of rice in stir-fries and pilafs or added to salads and soups. Here are some tasty ideas to get started.
- Use quinoa in tabbouleh for a gluten-free alternative to the usual cracked bulgur wheat. Classic tabbouleh is a combination of chopped parsley, cucumber, mint, green onion and tomato tossed in lemon juice and olive oil, while Greek Tabbouleh Salad Arepas with Ancho Yogurt Sauce includes the Mediterranean-inspired addition of Kalamata olives and feta cheese. (The accompanying Arepas and Ancho Yogurt Sauce are divine, but can be omitted if it’s simply the salad you’re after).
- Miniature bocconcini “pearls” are a soft, mild flavoured fresh mozzarella cheese addition to this quick-to-make Quinoa Salad. Enjoy on its own or topped with sliced cooked steak or chicken.
- For added flavour and chewy texture, toss prepared Turkey Peach Salad with a cup or so of cooked and cooled quinoa.
Mains and Side Dishes
Grill a selection of vegetables, including red and yellow sweet peppers, zucchini and red onions, then chop and toss in a bowl with cooked quinoa. Add Club House Greek Signature Blend along with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a colourful dish that’s outstanding alongside grilled meats or shrimp. Or, top with crumbled goat’s cheese and chopped pistachios for an inspired vegetarian main.
- Serve quinoa as an accompaniment to a wide array of dishes, including Big Easy Shrimp with Creamy Creole Mustard Sauce, Turkish Beef Stew and Chicken Curry.
- Loaded with avocado, feta and quinoa in a smoky honey vinaigrette, Chipotle Sweet Potato Chickpea Power Bowl is equal parts hearty meatless dinner and amazing portable lunch.
Unexpected Uses and Recipe Ideas
- For a savoury breakfast bowl, toss cooked quinoa with chopped green onions and cooked, crumbled bacon. Serve warm, topped with shredded Cheddar cheese, sliced avocado and fried or scrambled eggs. It’s even better with a shake of Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce.
- For a breakfast bowl that’s reminiscent of oatmeal, heat cooked quinoa with a spoonful or two each of milk, brown sugar and raisins, along with a dash of ground cinnamon, until bubbly and hot. Serve warm, topped with nuts and fruit, if desired.
- For added chewy texture and flavour, stir a small handful quinoa in your chili while cooking, along with a little extra liquid. Cover and let simmer until quinoa is tender and flavours are blended. Or, you can simply spoon chili or stew on cooked quinoa to serve.
- For a tasty twist on home-baked treats, make a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies or fudgy brownies with cooked and cooled quinoa stirred right in the batter.
- For a new take on chicken noodle soup, simmer chicken stock or broth, chopped vegetables and cooked chicken, along with a large dash of Club House La Grille Lemon & Herbs, until vegetables are tender. Spoon some cooked quinoa in each bowl then ladle soup on top.
- Blend a spoonful or two of cooked quinoa into your breakfast smoothie for added nuttiness and nutrition.
Here are two ways to prepare quinoa to fluffy, tender perfection.
1. Covered: Use two parts water (or broth) to one part quinoa. In a saucepan, add quinoa to boiling liquid; return to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
2. Uncovered: Cook quinoa in a large pot of boiling water until tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain in a fine mesh sieve (do not rinse); return quinoa, still in the sieve, to the same pot. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
More Tips and Techniques
- Give it a rinse: Though most quinoa now comes pre-washed, it’s still a good idea to rinse quinoa in a fine mesh sieve with plenty of cold water to remove any residual traces of saponin – a naturally occurring yet bitter tasting resin covering each quinoa seed. Drain well before cooking.
- Toasting: After rinsing, try “toasting” quinoa seeds in a dry, nonstick skillet over medium heat, gently shaking pan often until fragrant and golden. Then, cook as directed. This imparts even more nutty, toasty flavour.
- (Almost) instant quinoa: Free up stove space by cooking quinoa almost effortlessly in your Instant Pot.
- Serving sizes: 1 cup (250 mL) dry quinoa will yield about 3 cups (750 mL) cooked. Count on about ½ cup (125 mL) cooked quinoa per serving.
- Types: Three most readily available types of quinoa include white, red and black – or a mix of two or more of these. White is slightly softer while red and black are decidedly more firm and crunchy. White is the most commonly found type and is available in most grocery stores in the grains or healthy food aisle.