Ingredient of the Week: Quinoa

Ingredient of the Week: Quinoa

This week’s ingredient is one of my favorite and one that you may have seen me mention before. It’s quinoa (pronounced keen-wa)! These tiny little seeds are most known for being an “ancient grain,” although they aren’t exactly grains at all. In fact, they are related to leafy green vegetables, like spinach and swiss chard.

Quinoa is considered a complete protein, which means that it contains nine essential amino acids. Not only does a serving of this stuff taste good, but it will fill you up on good-for-you protein and fiber. Quinoa looks a little like couscous, but can prepared simply, like you would rice.

There is one key secret that the flavor of quinoa hinges on and is essential for enjoyment of this ingredient: you must rinse the quinoa seeds before you start cooking them! Rinsing quinoa removes the bitterness that rests on the outer shell, leaving a much more enjoyable flavor.

You can prepare quinoa in about fifteen minutes, which makes it one of my pantry staples for quick cooking meals. Simply place one part quinoa to two parts water (or broth) in a pan over medium high heat. Once at a simmer, cover the pan and reduce the heat to low and allow to cook for ten minutes. You’ll know its ready when the quinoa appears translucent and the water has been absorbed.

Ready to give quinoa a try? Here are my favorite ways to enjoy it:

  1. Create a hearty salad for lunch or dinner by piling on vegetables and a homemade vinaigrette.
  2. As a breakfast cereal dressed up with dried cherries, maple syrup, and almonds.
  3. As a simple side dish with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and minced parsley. Or combined with pesto.

Is quinoa one of your pantry staples already? What’s your favorite way to prepare it?

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