Quinoa, Quinoa Everywhere

A month ago, I had never heard of quinoa (keen-wah).  Then I tried some made by a local chef and wham, now it’s everywhere.  OK, OK, I know – it’s not everywhere, really — it’s simply that now that I’m aware of it, it just feels like its everywhere.

Except that, truly, I think it is.  This feels like a bona fide foodie trend.  It feels like quinoa is actually becoming ubiquitous.  At least in Metro NYC.

Because how’s this for funny: I made this Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa recipe for a pot-luck dinner party and someone invited at the last minute (ie, not involved in the who’s-bringing-what game) ALSO brought a quinoa dish.  We were all shocked.

I know you’re wondering, so I’ll just tell you straight up: my quinoa dish was better (if I do say so myself.)  And I do!  Why was it better?  Well, it is NOT because I’m a better cook.  Or that I was bitter that someone else brought quinoa.  Though clearly that is true.

Rather, it was simply that the recipe I used was better: more taste and it looked prettier.

Quinoa - from Epicurious site

So, another week goes by, and I make this quinoa dish for a birthday lunch for a (different group) of friends.  Then another week passes, and my friend Michaela asked if I could please make that delicious dish I brought to the birthday bash for her Memorial Day BBQ.  So I happily whip up a big batch, bring it…and it happened AGAIN!  Someone else ALSO brought a quinoa dish.

And lo and behold – mine was better again (this time, others even said so!)

How weird is that?  I’m not alone in thinking that’s strange, right?  I mean, clearly, there are 2 questions y’all must be pondering:

  1. What is it with quinoa?  Is it a new foodie obsession?  Why is it everywhere? I mean twice in a few weeks in the SUBURBS?!!!  That is crazy!  And here’s another tidbit:  someone at the BBQ said quinoa is all the rage in her town! So if you have any trend info to share, please comment here or on the GoLowCholesterol Facebook Page!
  2. And what’s so great about the quinoa recipe I found?  Why is it so good that it won – hands down – in 2 oh-so-formal (not!) taste tests?

Like I said, I can’t answer the first (and am hoping you can?), but I can tell you why this particular quinoa recipe rocks:

  • First of all it’s very easy – though there is chopping and zesting, so you have to be up for that.
  • Second of all, it has lots of nice color.
  • And third of all – it’s very flavorful … frankly, it’s just plain tasty.

The recipe I used got a 4-fork rating at Epicurious, and the only adjustment I made to render it even more Lo-Co was to leave out the butter.  Check it out online because the reviews offer some great suggestions (like adding avocado and vegetables).

Oh, and the other adjustment I made to this recipe is key: IGNORE the huge, complicated step about cooking quinoa!  That’s what the Epicurious reviewers said and they were right.  I just tossed it in my rice cooker OR you can just cook it the same way you cook rice.

As long as you buy your quinoa pre-washed (this is vital!), the quinoa itself is simple to make.

If you want to download my recipe for Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa, with all the above noted on a PDF, you can view it here.

Want to know more about quinoa?  Like why it’s so healthy and why it’s great for vegetarians?  Read on.  If not, I respect that – just download the recipe PDF or view it on Epicurious and have fun!

More info, you say?  Why is quinoa a great lo-co/healthy choice?  The main thing about quinoa is that it has a lot of protein – unusual for a ‘grain’ or typical side dish – so it’s terrific for vegetarians.  It’s also gluten-free and fat-free (unless you add, say, butter!)

Even more info?  For the best easy-to-read definition, check out about.com (normally not my fave site, but the wikipedia entry is ridiculously technical and full of stuff that I personally didn’t care about!)

Here’s about.com’s quinoa definition – and there are recipes and how-to-cook tips too:

What is quinoa?
While quinoa is usually considered to be a whole grain, it is actually a seed, but can be prepared like whole grains such as rice or barley. Try a quinoa pilaf salad recipe, or serve a vegetable stir-fry over cooked quinoa instead of rice. Quinoa is my favorite grain for three reasons: First, it takes less time to cook than other whole grains – just 10 to 15 minutes. Second, quinoa tastes great on its own, unlike other grains such as millet or teff. Add a bit of olive oil, sea salt and lemon juice and – yum! Finally, of all the whole grains, quinoa has the most protein, so it’s perfect for vegetarians. Quinoa provides all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Quinoa is a gluten-free and cholesterol-free whole grain, is kosher for Passover, and is almost always organic.”

Want even more quinoa info? You can check out:

By the way – this quinoa recipe was GREAT with my afore-posted-about Oven-Ready Roaster!  Because I made that bird again and still have leftovers.  My son even ate some quinoa with his chicken, though he complained about the black beans and said he’d prefer rice with gravy. Sigh.

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One thought on “Quinoa, Quinoa Everywhere

  1. Usually when I have a party I am forcing food on people — this time, I hid Karen’s quinoa so we’d have the leftovers! Thanks for the information about WHY it’s so good for you. My youngest is a vegetarian so a tasty protein is a welcome addition to the recipe box!

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