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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Getting to Know Quinoa

Since I've made the switch to "cleaner", healthier eating, there have been many ingredients I have stumbled upon that are totally new to me. Quinoa is one of them. Quinoa (pronounced "KEEN-wah"), is a fluffy, round grain that can be used in place of rice or eaten like oatmeal. It was once considered the "gold of the Incas" because the Incas of South America considered it sacred and used it as part of their rituals. This little grain has many health benefits and is also gluten free. When making it, use 2 parts liquid to 1 part quinoa (example: 2 cups of water for 1 cup of quinoa.) It can be prepared the same way as rice (I make it in my rice cooker) and you can substitute chicken broth for water. There are also some quinoa-based pastas on the market which are very delicious and much healthier than semolina pastas. 

Quinoa Primavera

1 cup quinoa 
2 cups organic chicken broth 
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion 
1/2 pound (about 1/2 bunch) asparagus, woody ends snapped off and discarded, spears cut into 1-inch pieces 
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
1 cup fresh peas or frozen petite peas, thawed 
1 cup shredded cooked chicken  
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Rinse quinoa under cold running water and drain. Combine chicken broth and quinoa in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until quinoa is tender and all the water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. 
2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and asparagus. Cook, stirring often, until asparagus is tender and bright green, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and peas and continue cooking for another minute. Stir in chicken and cooked quinoa. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Alissa's notes: This recipe is really good! I was shocked at how delicious the quinoa was! I made mine in my rice cooker instead of on the stovetop. Also, instead of stirring the quinoa into the veggie/chicken mixture, I just served it on top (similar to stir-fry served on top of rice). Makes great leftovers! I have even made sweeter recipes with quinoa. Mix in dried cranberries, almond slices, drizzle with raspberry vinaigrette, then top it with parmesan cheese. YUM!

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