Never one to shy away from a food trend, I’m happy to say that I’ve finally jumped on the quinoa bandwagon. Have you heard of quinoa? If you haven’t, no offense, but I think you may be living under some sort of culinary rock. If you regularly browse the food blogs, play around with the recipe boards on Pinterest, watch cooking shows, or frequently read any cooking or health magazines, you’ll have bumped into quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah). It’s taking the recipe world by storm…so I figured I’d join in.
I’d read about quinoa’s excellent nutritional value before. It’s a fantastic source of protein, amino acids, fiber, B vitamins and iron, and it serves as a wonderful gluten-free substitute for rice or couscous. My kids could live on rice and couscous, so if I can get something into them that’s more nutritious as a substitute, I’m all for it.
In my determination to make the dinner table a healthier place, I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear that I buckled and started by purchasing the ginormous bag of quinoa that Costco offers. That’s four pounds of quinoa, people. Four…pounds.
That’s a lot of quinoa.
As I mentioned, there are a kazillion ways you can use this stuff, though. Just put in a Google search for “quinoa recipes” and you’ll come up with everything from breakfast ideas to cookies. I’m excited to see where this jumbo-sized bag will take me.
I started by travelling no further than the back of the bag. There was a tasty looking quinoa pilaf recipe on the back that I was pretty sure my entire family would enjoy. Plus, it looked easy enough and I had everything for it on hand. Bonus!
The quinoa itself takes about 15 minutes to cook, so before I started, I got my other ingredients prepped. I popped some pine nuts into the oven to toast up for a minute, and while they were toasting, I diced up some sundried tomatoes (I used the tomatoes stored in oil, because that’s what I had on hand, but you could use the bagged, dried kind as well.), some onion, garlic, and fresh basil.
Once everything was set, I added some fat-free chicken broth to a saucepan and then poured in a cup of my quinoa.
The mixture quickly came to a boil and, at that point, I lowered the heat and covered the pan. I let it simmer for fifteen minutes. Once the timer went off, I added my sundried tomatoes to the pan, re-covered it and let the tomatoes steam for about five minutes with the quinoa.
As the tomatoes warmed up, I quickly sautéed up my onion in a little bit of olive oil and then added in my garlic. Once it was nice and golden, I fluffed my quinoa with a fork, and added the onions and garlic to the quinoa-tomato mixture, along with the basil, and pine nuts.
I stirred the goodies into the fluffed quinoa and that’s it! It was done!
When I served it up at dinner, I sprinkled just a bit of feta cheese over the top (Why not, right?) and we had it with some grilled chicken and vegetables. It was a delicious, healthy dinner AND my kids loved it! I have no doubt that I’ll be able to get through this four pound bag of quinoa easily. It’s good stuff! Let’s hear it for healthy AND delicious!
MEDITERRANEAN QUINOA PILAF
Adapted from Nature’s Earthly Choice
- 2 cups low sodium, fat-free chicken broth
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1½ Tbsp. olive oil
- ⅓ cup diced sundried tomatoes
- ½ large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil
- 2 Tbsp. pine nuts, lightly toasted
- crumbled feta cheese, for garnish
- salt and pepper
- In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa and broth and bring to a quick boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan and lightly simmer for 15 minutes or until the liquid is nearly all absorbed. Add the tomatoes to the quinoa mixture, cover the pan, and let the tomatoes steam for 5 minutes with the quinoa.
- Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and saute the onion until golden. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Remove from the heat.
- Fluff the steamed quinoa and then carefully stir in the onion mixture, basil, and pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with feta cheese and serve.
- Makes approx. 3½ cups