What’s up with all the Quinoa?

Ever since the quinoa craze started several years ago, I’ve tried to learn to like this grain that is supposed to be healthy for me – low carbs, low glycemic index & high protein.  But try as I did, I just could not embrace the taste or the texture.  Believers would coax me into trying it this way or that way and try to convince me to try their own favorite versions, but my palate just wouldn’t budge.

As a general rule I try any food at least three times before I write it off since preparation, location and mood are factors in how one evaluates a dish.  Mostly I tend to eat almost anything and everything (even offal in small quantities) and encourage my son to do the same.  Quinoa I’ve tried many many times and still had issues with until recently.

A friend made a quinoa salad and brought it to my house for a lunch I was hosting.  It was the first time I ate quinoa and found it to be palatable, and I realized it was all about the proportion and balance of other ingredients she added which made the quinoa, not the star but more of a cast member in the salad.  This eliminated my textural issue with the grain.  She made a honey lime dressing for the salad and the acid from the lime had penetrated the quinoa enough to reduce the flavor issue.

So, while I liked and ate that salad, I still didn’t enjoy it enough to make quinoa and eat it regularly.  Until I experimented with this recipe one day and figured out that I had only ever eaten quinoa cold as a salad.  I’ve now discovered that it is so much better served hot and with lots of flavor. Now I make a batch of this nearly every week and eat it for lunch several times throughout the week.  Sometimes topped with a fried egg, or warm grilled chicken. At other times, just the way it is.  I don’t have a photo but the recipe is below.

But the war is not yet won.  The quinoa challenge will be truly won when I can get my son to love it too.  That will take many more battles!!!

Spicy Vegetarian Quinoa

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Nutritious Weekday Lunch


Ingredients

  • 1 Cup white quinoa
  • 1 Cup frozen shelled edamame
  • 1 medium onion – chopped (I prefer red onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper – cut into large dice
  • 4 leaves Tuscan kale – chopped roughly
  • 2 carrots – cut into large dice
  • 1 or 2 dry red chiles (chile de arbol)
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • 1/4 Cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • Juice of 1 lime

Directions

Prepare the quinoa per package directions.  In a separate pot, boil 2 cups water with 1/2 tsp salt. Add edamame, return to a boil and allow to cook for 5 mins. Drain and set aside. Heat a saute pan over medium heat.  Add olive oil and red chile and cumin seeds.  When the seeds start to start to sizzle and turn darker, add the onion & garlic and stir for about a minute until onion is translucent.  Add the bell pepper, kale and carrots.  Stir and cook for 2 – 3 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp tender.  Season with salt and add the edamame. Stir to combine.  Add the prepared quinoa and stir well.  Then add lime juice and cilantro and stir again to combine.  Enjoy warm.  If storing in fridge, be sure to warm up before serving.  Tastes really great for brunch with a fried or poached egg on top.

Tip: You can substitute almost any vegetables in this including spinach, asparagus, peas, etc.  I almost never make the same one twice.

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