Quinoa

By: Nina Phomina

 

Grown in South America for thousands of years, quinoa was often called “the mother of the grains.” Along with potatoes and corn, it was widely used during the time of the Inca civilization, and Inca warriors took so-called “balls of war”—a mixture of quinoa with fat—with them when they went to a military campaign.

Today, we value this unique grain because the proteins found in quinoa are similar to the high-quality proteins found in milk. Quinoa contains truly unique nutrients, and sometimes you hear it called “a super grain of the future”. Quinoa possesses significantly more protein than any other cereal.

This little plant has many, many health benefits. Quinoa is low in sugar and high and fiber. When compared to other grains, quinoa keeps blood sugar steady and can help you maintain weight and improve cholesterol. The best part of cooking with quinoa is that it’s not only great for your health, but it’s also delicious and easy to prepare. The bland taste of quinoa makes it an excellent base for a variety of dishes and it is ideal when mixed with spices, herbs, dressings, sauces, fruits and vegetables.

Quinoa can be used in place of almost any other grain. It is tasty in soups, side dishes, salads, desserts and morning cereals. Once cooked, quinoa has a light, loose texture, and a slightly nutty flavor. Most often quinoa is used in the same recipes where rice or couscous are used. Quinoa flour is delicious for making healthy pancakes, muffins, waffles and breads.

In this recipe, I combined quinoa with pan fried peppers and tomatoes. It could be both a gorgeous side dish and a vegetarian meal. Adding some nuts—I think almonds or pistachios work best here and they will make the dish even more well-rounded and nutritious.

6-8 servings

Ingredients
•1 cup quinoa
•1 cup quinoa
•1 cup quinoa
•½ cup finely chopped onion
•1 medium clove of garlic
•1 bell pepper, cut into small cubes
•1 – 2 cups whole grape tomatoes, if larger tomatoes (campari), halved
•Pinch of cayenne pepper
•Salt
•Black pepper
•½ cup chopped parsley
•¼ cup or more olive oil (preferably extra virgin)
•Juice of ¼ lemon (or more to taste) – optional
•½ cup chopped nuts (pistachios, almonds) – optional

Preparation
Rinse the quinoa in cold water if it says so on the package instructions.

In a medium heavy-bottomed pot mix the quinoa, a little salt and water.

Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover tightly with a lid and gently simmer on lowest heat until the water is completely absorbed for 15-20 minutes.

Remove the lid; fluff the quinoa with a fork or a spoon. Optionally, add olive oil.

While quinoa cooks, prepare the vegetables.

In a deep pan heat the olive oil, add the onions, cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

In a deep pan heat the olive oil, add the onions, cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Cook on a medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes until the vegetables become golden-brown on the edges.

The tomatoes will burst – this is fine.

Add the parsley and cook for 1 minute.

Add the quinoa, lemon juice, if using and the good quality olive oil. Gently stir.