Back to the Kitchen: Recipes with magical Quinoa

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Quinoa is a delicately flavored grain that was a staple in the ancient Incas’ diet. One of the world’s true super foods, quinoa is a complete protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids. Quinoa is also a great source of fiber and iron. Quinoa is especially awesome for vegetarians and vegans who are concerned about getting enough protein in their diets. Although I think of quinoa as a chewy or nutty grain, similar to rice or couscous, it is actually a seed of a leafy plant, related to spinach and Swiss chard. It is rich in flavor and makes a wonderful side dish or meal as the weather heats up. The quinoa pudding is a wonderful dessert that I also serve as an amazing breakfast! Try these recipes when you are looking for innovative treats to delight your family and friends.

Versatile, magical quinoa.

Aileen’s Awesome Quinoa Salad

2 cups quinoa

4 cups vegetable stock

2 large tomatoes, chopped

1 large bunch chives, chopped

1/2-cup young mung bean sprouts

1/2 cup raw pine nuts


1/3 cup olive oil or walnut oil

1 lime or Meyer lemon juiced

2 cloves garlic, minced

Pinch sea salt

Bring quinoa and vegetable broth to a boil. Cover; reduce heat to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. While quinoa is cooking, chop tomatoes and chives. Mix dressing. Remove quinoa from heat. Allow to cool. Fluff quinoa and add vegetables and pine nuts. Gently mix dressing into quinoa mixture. Serve cold or warm. Serves 6.

Quinoa Risotto

1-cup quinoa

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

3 cloves garlic, minced

1-cup vegetable broth

1-cup milk

8 oz. mushrooms, sliced

3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Rinse and drain quinoa three times, using a fine mesh strainer to remove the bitter outer coating. Heat olive oil in a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until soft, stirring constantly. Add garlic and quinoa and continue stirring a minute or two. Stir in broth and milk. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low and simmer until quinoa is tender, stirring occasionally, approximately 10-12 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook another 3-5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat. Add cheese and let stand a few minutes, so risotto can thicken.

Chicken and Quinoa salad

2 cups quinoa

4 cups water

Salt to taste

1-cup pine nuts, toasted

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Pepper to taste

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 cups cooked chicken, shredded

1 1/2 cups green and red grapes, quartered

Bring water to a boil. Stir quinoa and a pinch of salt into water. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until quinoa is tender and all the liquid is absorbed. Uncover and let cool. Whisk vinegar and oil. Add chicken, grapes, pine nuts and quinoa. Toss well and add salt and pepper to taste.

Black Bean and Lime Quinoa

Juice and zest from 3 limes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1-tablespoon vegetable oil

1-cup quinoa

1 (14- to 15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

2 medium tomatoes, diced

4 scallions, chopped

3 cloves garlic

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together lime zest and juice, oils in a large bowl. Wash quinoa in 3 changes of cold water in a bowl, draining in a sieve each time. Cook quinoa in a medium pot of boiling salted water uncovered, until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in sieve, then set sieve in same pot with 1 inch of simmering water (water should not touch bottom of sieve). Cover quinoa and steam over medium heat until tender, fluffy, and dry, about 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let stand, still covered with towel, 5 minutes. Toss with lime mixture and the black beans, tomatoes, scallions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and let stand another 5 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Quinoa Burger

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa

1-cup hummus

2-tablespoon tomato paste

1-tablespoon sesame oil

1-tablespoon soy sauce

10 basil leaves, chopped

2 sprigs thyme, chopped

Pinch cayenne pepper, to taste

Salt & pepper to taste

6 burger buns

Mix Greens

Avjar Sauce (recipe follows)

Blend all ingredients in a bowl or food processor Divide burger mix into 6 equal portions and form into 4-inch patties. Grill on medium heat 5 minutes each side, until browned and firm. Place patties on buns and top with avjar, mix greens and serve.

Homemade Avjar

8-12 fresh red paprika (mild or medium-hot, to taste)

4 medium-size eggplants

1/2 cup olive oil

1 large onion, minced

3 large garlic cloves, chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

¼ cup parsley leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

Roast the paprika and eggplants in a preheated 475 F oven, until the skin is blistered and darkened. Place the roasted vegetables in a paper bag and let them steam in their own heat for 10 minutes. Peel off and discard the burnt skin along with the stems and seeds. Mash the peppers and eggplant pulp together to form a slightly chunky mass. You can do this with a fork or in a food processor. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet and sauté the onion until very soft. Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the pepper-eggplant pulp, mixing well. Slowly drizzle the remaining oil into the mixture, stirring constantly to incorporate all of the oil. Add lemon juice and parsley, and salt and pepper, to taste.

Curried Quinoa

2 cups quinoa

4 cups water

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

1/2-cup raisins

2 large tomatoes

4 carrots, grated

1-cup sweet peas

1 green bell pepper

4 teaspoons curry powder

2 teaspoons chili powder

1-teaspoon cumin

½ cup cilantro, chopped

Kosher Salt

In a good sized pot, sauté quinoa kernels in a little bit of olive oil about 4 minutes, then pour in water, cover, and let boil about 15 minutes until absorbed. Cut up veggies while you wait. When water absorbed, fluff with a fork and add spices and all veggies except for shredded carrots and cilantro. After stirring a good 30 seconds on heat, remove, dish into bowls, and garnish with carrot and cilantro.

Mix Berry Quinoa Pudding

2 cups almond milk

1-cup quinoa

2 cups mixture black berries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries

1/2-teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted

4 teaspoons agave nectar

Combine almond milk and quinoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Turn off heat; let stand covered 5 minutes. Stir in berries and cinnamon; transfer to four bowls and top with pecans. Drizzle 1 teaspoon agave nectar over each serving.

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.