Quin-Whaaa? (Cooking with Quinoa)

This week I tried Quinoa, and Real Simple is largely to blame.

The issue that inspired me Doesn't it make you want to get in the kitchen?

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


  1. Toss chicken with 2 teaspoons soy sauce in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Heat remaining oil in skillet and cook the chicken.  Add to quinoa, garnish with cilantro
** (Notes)  The Original recipe called for scallops.  I cooked the chicken because I knew it    would be done, rather than guessing and having it raw.
**  I didn’t have sesame oil (which can be pricy) so I used additional canola
** Since I used Chicken I used more soy sauce, for coating
** Edamame and Broccoli replaced Snow Peas and Red Bell Pepper
See the original recipe here

There it Is!


About Bec

I'm a gal who believes "Food is the Most Primitive form of Comfort" Have plenty of dishes to serve up, but one thing's for sure, I'm always
This entry was posted in Chicken, Cooking, food, recipe. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Quin-Whaaa? (Cooking with Quinoa)

  1. kelli says:

    I bought some quinoa flake that said it could be used for baking (specifically waffles and muffins) but I ended up putting it into Mexican wedding cookies and they turned out pretty awesome. Since the cookies have pecans in them anyway, it really enhanced the nutty flavor. But other than that, I’ve been afraid of the stuff.

  2. Hi Bec,
    I can see that you’re a quinoa fan too.
    I love quinoa. I like its simplicity, taste and texture.
    Thanks for this great recipe!


  3. dtbrents says:

    I will have to try this it sounds doable. Doylene

  4. LaTonya says:

    I remember that episode of Top Chef! It looks really good, something else you’ve inspired me to want to try.

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