Sunday, September 21, 2008

Southwestern Quinoa

I had read about quinoa in a few recipes and the Trader Joe's newsletter. I just never really got around to trying it. Then my cousin mentioned it to me and I read about it in Skinny Bitch. I googled some and was intrigued enough to try it. I set to work looking around the grains and rice in Trader Joe's but couldn't find it. Why didn't I just ask somebody? Well - I was embarrassed I'd say it wrong and look like an idiot! So I put it off again. Then one day while perusing the organic aisles of Jewel I found it! I literally lept for joy, grabbed it and threw it in the cart. The traditional one because it was white and looked less scary. They had an heirloom option that is a purpley red, that I waited to try later and is just as good.

I'm sad it took me so long to find this! It is SUCH a great addition to the grain family in your pantry. Hailed as the "mother grain" it is very high in protein and contains all amino acids, making it a complete protein. A lot of vegans and vegetarians eat it because of those benefits, but it's also gluten (and whey!) free for those allergen sufferers out there.

I usually make a quinoa pilaf of sorts by throwing in carrots, onions, broccoli and garlic at the beginning with a few dashes of spices and water. Tonight I was feeling a little more inspired.

I started with one cup of the traditional white quinoa. To that I added two big spoonfuls of Newman's Own mild salsa, a small spoonful of pre-minced garlic and about 1/4 cup (give or take) each of tiny chopped onions and green peppers. A splash of olive oil and dashes of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, pepper and Old Bay. I know it's weird, but I love Old Bay and my cousin and I just had a huge love-fest conversation about it the other day so I was inspired to throw him in there.

Typically you add two parts water for one part quinoa. I've found that if you're putting fresh veggies in from the beginning it's still a little moist at the end, so cut back just a bit. This time I also had the moistness of the salsa, so I put maybe 1 and 4/5ths (?) of water in the pot. I brought it up to a boil, lowered it to a simmer, put the lid on and set the timer for the full 15 minutes of cook time.

The end result was a colorful bowlful of quinoa. Despite it's much-altered appearance, the flavor was still pretty mild and not spicey. Almost a warm comforting level of salsa in the background.

To continue with the southwestern theme we topped our bowls with a small sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese (low-fat!), a dollup of sour cream and a few chunks of avacado. We ate really late tonight, but it was still a hearty meal that left us satisfied, but not in that "I over-ate" kind of way. Which was my intention with choosing quinoa-- because who wants to feel all bloated and stuffed after a really late dinner?

Compliments to Johnny for taking the pictures as I prepared the plates and being brave enough to try it, no questions asked!

Oh and P.S. I have got to try this:

(Be warned - he uses a PG-13 word in there once if you're at work or around the kiddies.)


Nowheymama said...

I just tried quinoa for the first time this summer and really liked it.

Laura said...

YEAH!!! I love quinoa too--pulling out all the stops today girl!

Thanks for linking up to Just Another Meatless Monday!

annies home said...

sounds delicious I have never had quinoa but adding it to the list of foods I want to try