Quinoa Recipe and Pronunciation Guide

This blog is about practical cooking, but it’s also about a passion for food. The Practical Cook feels that passion for today’s ingrediente secreto: quinoa. Over 15 years ago, quinoa and I first met at a crunchy Carrboro co-op (locals recognize that this is a redundant phrase) called Weaver Street Market. This was before quinoa became the darling of chefs and healthy eaters everywhere, and well before I could actually pronounce it.

Quinoa with Beets, Chickpeas, and Dill

Quinoa with Beets, Chickpeas, and Dill

Because “The Weave” was within walking distance of my then-employer, lunch was often ordered there in a rush by simply pointing at one healthy option or another. My love for quinoa bloomed, and I attempted to order it by name one day, phonetically, uttering something between “quinine” and “Samoa.”

I won’t bore you with a litany of the health benefits and nutritional bang of quinoa, a quick search will deliver all of that. This is about taste—quinoa is like couscous in size and texture, but with a surprising depth of flavor. It is nutty and somewhat earthy, and completely addictive. Quinoa is a rarity for its plant-based protein punch. And it’s fun to say, no matter how you pronounce it.

Quinoa with Beets, Chickpeas, and Dill

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
~1 cup of chickpeas (rinsed and drained, use more or less, depending on your preference)
1 to 1 1/2 cups diced pickled beets (to be fair, the Practical Cook’s Mom keeps us awash in this family favorite; for those without access to PCM‘s mad canning skills, they are commercially available, or plain cooked beets will work fine)
1 tsp dill (I used dried, and this is an estimate, adjust to your taste)
salt and pepper

1. Combine quinoa and water in a medium saucepan.

Combine Quinoa with Water in a 1:2 Ratio

Combine Quinoa with Water in a 1:2 Ratio

2. Bring quinoa to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high heat.

3. Once boiling, lower the heat (a bit less than medium) and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally,  for 7-10 minutes, until liquid is absorbed.

Quinoa Simmering

Quinoa Simmering

4. Take the pan off the heat, allow to sit for a few minutes, then fluff a bit with a spoon.

5. Fold in remaining ingredients, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature.

Fold Remaining Ingredients into Quinoa

Fold Remaining Ingredients into Quinoa

Here’s the final plate.

Sunday Night Supper: Quinoa, Salmon, and Asparagus

Sunday Night Supper: Quinoa, Salmon, and Asparagus

We served it alongside Salmon with a Creamy Lemon Dill sauce and broiled asparagus. The quinoa was a huge hit with our eldest, who is gun-shy about some textures (including couscous) and an aspiring almost six-year-old foodie. This is clearly a building block recipe that will work well with whatever you have at hand, including leftover grilled veggies; sauteed carrots and peas; goat cheese, walnuts, and dried fruit (like cranberries).

Next up, a warm weather punt: How to Dine Al Fresco, or Mama Tapas.

Have you tried quinoa? Let’s hear your ideas and flavor combinations on the blog, Twitter (practicalcook), or email (for the shy: practicalcook at gmail dot com).

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4 Comments

Filed under On the Table, Recipes

4 responses to “Quinoa Recipe and Pronunciation Guide

  1. Kelly

    Quinoa a la Azteca–with black beans, corn and either red peppers or a little salsa thrown in. Great grown up side for the perennial kid fave, tacos.

    Maybe I’ll use quinoa in my ham and bean thing rather than making it a casserole….hmmm good thoughts.

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