Quinoa has come to the rescue more times than I can count as the last minute answer to that nagging question, “what’s for dinner?”
That’s because quinoa is even more versatile than rice. And since it cooks up quicker and combines with most everything, it’s become my favorite go-to for those last-minute meal dilemmas.
Also, quinoa is quite amazing in the health department. It has all eight essential amino acids, is super-high in fiber, and contains good amounts of iron, phosphorous and magnesium.
And what you can do with it is far more than just serve up a bowl of grains (quinoa is technically a seed and also gluten-free). It’s what you put in your quinoa that turns it into something really special.
First, if you’re new to cooking quinoa, here’s how I do it. Sure, you can cook it on the stovetop, but a much easier way — one where you won’t have to worry about scorching a pot — is the rice cooker.
Just combine your quinoa and the amount of water stated on the package in your rice cooker and it should be ready in about 10 or 15 minutes. (If yours has timed settings for white or brown rice, try using the “steam” selection. I run “steam,” which lasts for 5 minutes on mine, three times to cook my quinoa.) Like rice, the quinoa is done when all the water is absorbed.
Here are 5 ideas to turn that cooked quinoa into a delicious meal:
- Sesame salmon quinoa: Toss a serving of snap peas with a tablespoon or so of sesame oil, lime juice and black pepper. Top your cooked quinoa with a serving of fresh cooked or canned salmon and then add your snap pea/sesame mix over the top of the salmon.
- Quinoa with red beans and walnuts: Drain a can of red kidney beans and toss with walnuts, a tablespoon or so of olive oil and spices. Toss the bean, nut mix into a steaming bowl of cooked quinoa.
- Cranberry quinoa with kale: This combo works best with leftover cooked quinoa from the fridge. Toss a serving of fresh kale (either small bite-size pieces or the “baby” kind) with chopped fresh or dried cranberries, almond slivers and top with a honey-vinegar dressing (I use more honey to counter the tart cranberries). Add to your quinoa and toss well.
- Quinoa artichoke salad: Another delicious way to use leftover cooked quinoa is to simply top and toss with artichokes (ready to use from a jar), and some olive oil and spices. This is also the perfect dish to further top with some canned albacore tuna.
- Red quinoa and radishes: Red quinoa is pretty much the same as its beige-colored cousin; however I find it a little nuttier tasting. Plus, it’s really beautiful and is quite “fancy” looking.
Cut several radishes into very thin slices and combine with cooked asparagus tips, lemon juice, spices, almond slivers and olive oil. Toss into cooked, steaming quinoa for a very elegant main or side dish.
Once you start experimenting with quinoa, you’ll probably discover some cool ideas for even more ways to use it. And it likely will become you’re new “go-to” dish for whipping up a quick meal, too!