When I lived in Ecuador, we would eat quinoa (pronounced keen-wa or keen – oh – wa) quite often, which makes sense because quinoa is native to the Andes and can be cultivated in the high altitudes. Since returning, though, I hadn’t eaten it at all which is kind of a shame because it is a complete protein – something not typically found in plants, and is high in fiber, phosphorous, magnesium and iron. Plus it’s delicious with a mild nutty flavor!
I was wandering through Trader Joe’s one day and there I saw a box in all its glory. I decided to pick it up not having any idea how I would prepare it. (I neglected to mention that I did try to cook it once before, when I lived in Pittsburgh, and that was a royal mess!) The box sat in the cupboard for a few weeks due to Christmas, New Year’s and Elvis not working which means he cooked almost every night for 10 days straight! (Definitely no complaints there.) Then I decided to do some research on dishes to make. The one that I thought would be most Elvis-friendly was this Quinoa and Vegetable Pilaf which I made as a side with grilled chicken breasts earlier this week.
The dish was delicious and leaves a lot of room for adding other vegetables or spices. We’ll definitely be making this one again!
Quinoa and Vegetable Pilaf
4 servings, 122 calories each
1 T butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1/2 c quinoa, rinsed until water runs clear (this is really important!) and drained
3/4 c chicken broth
1/8 t salt
1/8 t pepper
2 t chopped parsley (optional)
Melt butter in saucepan over med-low heat. Stir in onion, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally until veggies are almost tender (6-7 minutes). Stir in quinoa, increase heat to medium-high and cook until lightly toasted, stirring frequently (~3 minutes). Add in chicken broth, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook until grains are tender-chewy and all the liquid is absorbed (~15 minutes). Serve sprinkled with parsley.
Before cooking, quinoa is quite hard and almost pebble-like. When it is cooking, it pops open and looks something like this:
The good news is that there is still plenty of quinoa left in that box, so I’ll get to experiment some more in the future! My host mom frequently used the quinoa in a vegetable soup, which may the the next meal I try to make!