I’ve actually heard about this latest food craze from my health-conscious Filipina friend. Even the UN gave this superfood an international year to commemorate its awesomeness. My friend also swears by it as a great alternative to rice, which we Filipinos can hardly live without.
But since I moved here in Europe, I’ve already started eating rice occasionally, once or twice a week as a matter of fact. I’m now chowing down more on other carbs such as potatoes, pasta, or noodles.
Yet on a few occasions too, I’d just simply eat salad or vegetables. So coming across this new grain (or seed) did give me another healthier option.
Quinoa is originally grown in South America and basically part of the staple diet of the local Andean population in Peru, Chile, and Bolivia for already thousands of years.
Quinoa has been recognized for its high nutrient content. With twice the protein content of rice, quinoa is also a very good source of calcium, magnesium, and manganese. It also possesses good levels of B vitamins, vitamin E and dietary fiber.
There are two types of quinoa – red and creamy white. Both varieties are slightly bitter when cooked and open up to release white curls as they soften.
It has more of a couscous texture, not as soft as rice, and can be quite nutty too, but when cooked properly, quinoa can absorb the flavors of any sauce or dressing added onto it.
I did try to cook quinoa using a rice cooker. It turned out to be handy to cook quinoa with it, but the bitter taste of quinoa didn’t get to my liking. I then searched for better ways of cooking it, and cooking quinoa on the stovetop is the better option for me.
I’ve already tried a handful of quinoa recipes, and this recipe has been among my favorites by far.
- 2 cups fat-free, less-sodium vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 3 cups thinly sliced leek (about 2 large)
- 4 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps (about 8 ounces)
- 1 1/2 cups chopped red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- Combine broth, water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Stir in quinoa. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Stir in 3 tablespoons parsley, 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Remove from heat; keep warm.
- Heat remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add leek; sauté 6 minutes or until wilted. Add mushroom caps, bell pepper, and wine; cook 2 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Place 1 cup quinoa in each of 4 shallow bowls; top each with 1 1/4 cups vegetable mixture and 2 tablespoons walnuts.