This week I tried Quinoa, and Real Simple is largely to blame.
The February 2011 issue had “The 30 Healthiest Ingredients” and I quickly scoured the list to see what I was eating regularly, and what I would put on my list to try.
Quinoa made the top of my list.
It was described as “A complete plant-based protein, (meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids) this offers the same energy and satiety you would get from meat, sans the fat and cholesterol.”
It looks like a grain, cooks like a grain, but it’s actually a seed. It’s gluten-free, cholesterol-free and kosher.
Another benefit? Well not only is it fun to say (Keen-Wah) you don’t hear about it much. It sounds so much more exotic than rice or pasta. Just mentioning it garners a bit of respect.
That respect, is actually what kept the ingredient in the back of my mind for years. As you’d expect, I watch cooking shows (to be clear I prefer Top Chef far and away above the others.) In summer of 2009 the show had a spin-off called ‘Top Chef Masters” (featuring restaurant elite). One episode has ALWAYS stuck in my mind. The remaining chefs were asked to create a dinner for Zooey Deschanel and her friends and family.
But there was a catch. There’s ALWAYS a catch. Ms. Deschanel is vegan. And gluten intolerant. And doesn’t eat soy.
I remember hearing that and my jaw hitting the floor, wondering WHAT would be made. Chef Michael Chiarello, made pasta. Using Quinoa, and he won.
Fortunately, Eating Well happened to have a recipe this week that featured Quinoa (I follow the magazine on Twitter.) I made some adjustments, ending with a recipe that has 4 items on the “Healthiest Foods” list. It’s filling and good. Details below:
Quinoa is found in the specialty food section. It’s a bit pricy ($5 for 12-16 oz). This is a pet-peeve of mine (WHY must healthy food cost more?!?) buy the pre-rinsed.
The seeds must be rinsed or they’ll taste bitter. I tried to rinse mine at home to make sure…and created a big mess. Since they’re so small I’d recommend lining a colander with cheese cloth (or a few paper towels) and rinsing.
- 2 Boneless Skinless chicken breasts-cooked*
- 4 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce, divided*
- 4 tablespoons plus 3 teaspoons canola oil, divided*
- 1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed
- 2 teaspoons grated or minced garlic
- 3 cups chicken broth (or water, if need be)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup broccoli spears
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 1 bunch sliced scallions
- 1/2- 3/4 cup steamed edamame *
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
- Toss chicken with 2 teaspoons soy sauce in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Place a large, high-sided skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil and quinoa. Cook, stirring constantly, until the quinoa begins to color, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add broth and salt and bring to a boil. Stir once, cover and cook over medium heat until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. (Do not stir.) Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Add in edamame and let sit again.
- Meanwhile, whisk 3 tablespoons canola oil, the remaining 2 soy sauce and vinegar in a large bowl. Add the quinoa and edamame, scallions and broccoli; toss to combine.
- Heat remaining oil in skillet and cook the chicken. Add to quinoa, garnish with cilantro