I love quinoa

Posted on March 30, 2012


Quinoa {pronounce keen-wah} is one of my favorite grains! It is a whole grain, and you don’t have to go out searching for the whole wheat version – it’s already “whole wheat.” I like to buy it from the bulk bins at Whole Foods; it can get a little pricey when you buy it from your regular grocery store.

It’s totally worth it finding & buying though, because not only is quinoa full of whole grain goodness {fiber, B vitamins, and other vitamins & minerals}, it’s also a good source of protein which makes it a great addition to meat-free meals. It is a complete source of protein, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids. It’s gluten free, too!

Here are some cooking facts about quinoa:

  • use a 1 to 2 ratio – meaning you cook 1 part quinoa to 2 parts liquid, so 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups chicken broth
  • uncooked quinoa (almost) quadruples when cooked – 1 cup uncooked quinoa turns to about 4 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa makes one serving

It’s great as a side dish or for lunch or a light dinner. You can always add an additional source of protein like chickpeas, extra cheese (reduced-fat please), or cooked chicken to make it a more substantial meal. Also, quinoa is a pretty easy thing to bring for lunch or snack because it doesn’t have anything that easily spoils (unless you add something, of course).

Here’s one version of the recipe I usually use to make quinoa. I change it depending upon what is in my refrigerator, pantry, & freezer at the time. Feel free to add what you like and take out what you don’t. Enjoy!

Quinoa Pilaf

You can add 1 cup cooked chicken, turkey, chickpeas, or other beans to make this a more substantial meal.

Serves 3-4

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups low-sodium or salt-free vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 TBSP olive or canola oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, any color
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp salt-free seasoning, like The Delicious Dietitian Italian-Mediterranean Spice Blend
  • 2 cup roughly chopped baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes*
  • ¼ cup chopped toasted pecans, walnuts, or pine nuts*
  • ½ cup reduced-fat feta cheese
  • additional roasted vegetables, optional {I had leftover mushrooms that I added}
  • 1 TBSP parsley, chopped

Bring quinoa and broth to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all of the liquid has absorbed about 15 minutes. {You can do this before making the pilaf. Just refrigerate the cooked quinoa until you’re ready to prepare the pilaf}

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions & bell pepper and cook until softened and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and stir for about 1 minute. Stir in salt and salt-free seasoning. Remove from heat and set aside.

Transfer quinoa to a bowl, gently stir in onion/pepper mixture, spinach leaves, tomatoes, nuts, cheese, and additional vegetables if using. Top with parsley. Serve warm or refrigerate and serve later. This will keep well in the refrigerator for about 2-3 days.

*You can always substitute sun-dried tomatoes for the regular tomatoes and chopped olives for the nuts.

Have a great weekend!


Posted in: Recipes