Quinoa: so you think it’s just a seed?

Christine’s tabbouleh style quinoa with basil
Photo Credit: Words Etc.

Quinoa – you just have to try it

You may have heard all the hype about quinoa – this amazing little seed that really packs a punch, containing more protein than any other grain. I tried it out this summer when I saw some interesting new salad recipes in Bon Appetit Magazine. I took one of the recipes for a quinoa based tabbouleh, adding my own personal touches that really reclassifies it into something other that tabbouleh.  And I apologize to my Arab readers for messing with this classic dish.  But I grow lots of basil and so have substituted basil for the mint. You’ll find the recipe below.

But before we get to that, a little more about quinoa:

Often called the “Mother Grain,” it was one of the staple food items of the Incas. Grown exclusively in the mountains of South America, it is a bit pricey, but worth every penny. I’ve found the best quinoa at my local health food store in Palm Coast, Florida, Ginger Root Market. They sell an organic variety of the ivory-colored seed. It is also available in red, black, orange, pink, and purple, but these darker varieties may be more difficult to find. I’ve also recently learned that the leaves of the quinoa plant are edible, tasting similar to spinach, chard and beets. I haven’t done much research on that, but since it is not a locally grown crop, I’m not too focused on finding the fresh leaves!

Not only is quinoa high in protein, but the protein it supplies is complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids. It is higher in unsaturated fats and lower in carbohydrates than most grains and is a very good source of calcium, iron, phosphorous, B vitamins,and vitamin E. Quinoa’s slow-releasing carbohydrates help to maintain blood sugar levels.

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has officially declared that the year 2013 be recognized as “The International Year of the Quinoa,” and there’s even a movie in the works.  Check it out here.

Here’s my recipe:

Quinoa My Way

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
½ tsp. kosher salt plus more for seasoning
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large cucumber, peeled and cut into ¼ “ pieces
1 ½ cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ cup chopped fresh basil
2 scallions, sliced

  1. Cook quinoa in rice cooker with ½ tsp. salt and 1 ¼ cups of water. (See directions below for cooking on stove top.)
  2. When quinoa is cooked let stand in cooker for 5 – 10 minutes.  Then spread in a baking pan to cool.
  3. Whisk together lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set the dressing aside.
  4. When quinoa has cooled, place in a large bowl and add ¼ cup of the prepared dressing.  (You may do this part a day ahead to save time, chilling both the quinoa/dressing mixture and the additional dressing in separate covered bowls.)
  5. Add cucumber, tomatoes, herbs and scallions to bowl with quinoa;  toss to coat and season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Drizzle remaining dressing over. Chill and serve.

Note: To cook quinoa on stove top:  Bring water, quinoa and salt to a boil in a medium-sized pan, and reduce to a simmer until quinoa is tender ( about 10 minutes). Continue with step 2 above.

Enjoy this often.  It’s delicious, easy to prepare and so good for you!  If you try the recipe, please tell me what you think…..


3 responses to “Quinoa: so you think it’s just a seed?

  1. Pingback: Quin-noah? Keen-wah? « khrystleraineduste

  2. I have read abiut quinoa years ago but never got my hands on it. Thanks for reminding me

  3. Pingback: A Pudbudder Holiday | Pudbudder - It's all about fun!