For as often as we eat quinoa, I realized it has a relatively small presence on the blog. I’d say at least once a week (if not more) quinoa will show up in some form for lunch or dinner – or breakfast on occasion. So when my aunt emailed me asking for a more ideas on how to use the protein-packed seed, I picked up my camera and snapped a few pics of the lunch I was making right when she wrote.
And no surpise that it was a quinoa salad.
If you aren’t familiar with this ancient ingredient, although it seems like a grain, it is actually a chenopod and is related to beets and spinach. It is also one of the few plant-based foods that is a complete protein, so it a great thing to incorporate into meals that don’t contain meat (which everyone can use a few of, carnivore or not :)).
For this version, I roasted beets in my new favorite way. Instead of peeling the beets after they are cooked (and HOT and messy), just quickly run a vegetable peeler around the root before roasting. A quick cut, a small douse of olive oil, salt and pepper, and a sprinkling of fresh herbs (if you have any handy) and pop them into a 400ºF oven and roast for about 30-40 minutes, flipping them once during that time.
Hello – why are all beets not roasted like that??? You know those good crusty nubs that form on the edges of anything you roast? Well, now beets finally have that! Old method of individually wrapping unpeeled beets in foil – g’bye!
After that, I just tossed in a segmented orange (I used a blood orange because it it January and I love them), some pan-roasted tofu (again, new method there – non-stick skillet is MANDATORY, requires almost no oil!!), some lettuce, and a quick bit of olive oil, sherry vinegar, salt and pepper. Since the beets and tofu were seasoned during cooking, it didn’t take too much more.
I know this is hardly a recipe, but I love getting new ideas for how to keep simple and inexpensive meals from getting boring, and I think this one fits the bill nicely!
Let me know your favorite things to pair with quinoa!
As we already discussed, there is no real recipe here, so I am not going to write up non-exsitant dressing proportions, but here is how to cook quinoa if you are not familiar with it.
NOTE: This is just a ratio, and you can of course make more or less quinoa in one go. If you choose to make more, it would require a bit more cooking time, but you are still looking for the same results that are mentioned above.
1 ½ cups quinoa
3 cups water*
Rinse the quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer. NOTE – I find this to be the biggest pain that no one mentions whenever I make quinoa!! The quinoa grains are so teeny-tiny they either slip through or stay behind in the strainer. My fix is to line the strainer with a paper towel, and then once rinsed, I transfer the quinoa with the paper towel to the saucepan with water, and then just toss the paper towel. Its not perfect, but better than nothing. DOUBLE NOTE – I think Viva paper towels are the best, so I can’t promise this would work with ones not so sturdy…
In a medium saucepan heat the quinoa and water until boiling. *If you want a richer base, you can substitute the water for chicken or vegetable stock.
Cover, reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa fluffs up, about 15 minutes.
Quinoa is done when you can see the spiral germ in each grain, and it is tender but still with a bit of bite. Drain any extra water and transfer to a bowl to cool, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.