Quinoa sparkles and shines all year long, but I love it most in the summer when I cook up a huge batch and mix in tons of fresh veggies for barbecues, or I use it throughout the week in my lunch salads. Quinoa can take the place of almost any grain or starch, cooked risotto style, featured in a pilaf or even tossed in with curries.
Although it’s often associated with grains, quinoa is really an ancient seed, first used about 5,000 years ago by the Incas in South America. There are thousands of varieties of quinoa, but most often you’ll find white, red and black. Keeping in mind that the darker varieties are more firm and don’t absorb water as well as the white, they can all be used interchangeably. Most quinoa is pre-rinsed, but check the package. Its natural coating, saponin, leaves a bitter taste when not rinsed off.
This week marks the unofficial start to summer, and with that comes endless uses for quinoa.
- Holiday weekends mean more time for breakfast; try Quinoa Hash Browns and Turkish Eggs (pictured above).
- Bobby Deen’s veggie-heavy Quinoa, Salmon and Broccoli Bowl is the perfect meal for bikini season.
- Tabbouleh is a traditional Middle Eastern salad, heavy on healthy herbs like mint and cilantro. Mix in our favorite superfood for Quinoa Tabbouleh.
- Serve Kelsey Nixon’s Pomegranate Quinoa Pilaf (less than 250 calories per serving) hot or cold all year long.
- Ingrid Hoffmann’s Yellow Quinoa is seasoned with adobo seasoning, a traditional Mexican spice blend of garlic, paprika, oregano and salt.
- Quinoa Sweet Potato Tacos are what Meatless Monday dreams are made of. Cook the quinoa and sweet potatoes in the same pot at the same time for a quick and easy taco filling.
- Rachael Ray takes advantage of cooked quinoa’s long lifespan (it stays good for up to a week in the fridge) and preps her Quinoa-and-Vegetable-Stuffed Peppers dinner over the weekend, then serves it during the week.
- MB Post’s Kale and Quinoa Salad is super summery and packed with fresh veggies like Tuscan (aka dinosaur) kale, radishes, carrots, turnips and beets. This recipe cooks quinoa in the style of couscous: simmer for a bit, then take off the heat, cover and steam until the quinoa is cooked through.
- Warm weather means an endless supply of fresh, local tomatoes in the Northeast. Use slightly firm vine-ripe tomatoes for Peruvian Quinoa-Stuffed Tomatoes with Tomatillo Salsa.
- A quick rub gets veggie-heavy Chile-Rubbed Chicken Breast with Kale, Quinoa and Brussels Sprouts Salad on the table in just about an hour. Keep the heat to a minimum in the house by grilling the chicken instead of cooking it in a pan.
- Aida Mollenkamp brings it back to basics with Cucumber-Bell Pepper Quinoa salad, dressed with a simple white wine vinaigrette.
- Remember when I said you can use quinoa in place of almost any grain or starch? Meet Pine Nut Marinara Quinoa Bowl. This dish will satisfy your pasta craving without the guilt.
- Like most quinoa recipes, Spicy Quinoa with Sweet Potatoes can be served hot or cold, perfect for picnics and potlucks all summer long.
- Quinoa Salad with Twig Farm Goat Tomme is seasoned with a lemon vinaigrette and just a bit of ground allspice, leaving you with a bright, fresh salad. The cheese used in this recipe is a semihard raw goat cheese, and it can be replaced with other types of semihard goat cheese, like Snofrisk.
- Roger Mooking utilizes ginger beer to braise the pork for his Ginger Pot Roast with Quinoa Salad and Ginger Pineapple Compote. Ginger beer can be brewed (alcoholic) or a soft drink, and it is a popular addition to cocktails like the Dark and Stormy.
- Horchata is a refreshing Mexican beverage traditionally made from rice. This version is made of almonds, quinoa, forbidden rice and oats, ground up and soaked overnight in water with a cinnamon stick.
- A simple Quinoa Salad served with diced avocado in endive boats has “summer cocktail party” written all over it.
- Glazed Pork Loin with “Salad Bar” Salad utilizes whatever precooked grains you have on hand, which for me is normally quinoa.
- Chiles rellenos is a traditional Mexican stuffed roasted pepper dish. Oven-Roasted Chile Relleno with Chipotle Adobo Sauce is stuffed with goodies like quinoa, mushrooms, onions, thyme, asadero cheese (think a mix of mozzarella and Monterey Jack) and eggs to hold it all together.
- Serve “West African’s Finest” Mafe, a peanut stew, over quinoa for a filling vegetarian meal.
- Emeril Lagasse tosses everything into the same pot for his Orange, Currant and Pine Nut Quinoa, making for easy cleanup. The currants used in this recipe are a dried variety of very small grapes, and they are often used in baked goods.
- A flavorful dressing is the best way to win at salad making. Bobby Flay adds oregano and garlic to his vinaigrette, then holds it at room temperature to let the flavors meld while prepping the rest of his Greek Quinoa Salad.
- Seared and Carved Beef Tenderloin with Herbed Quinoa, Poached Leeks and Wild Mushroom Reduction is a recipe worthy of a dinner party or date night. Dried mushrooms are a pantry staple and rehydrating these mushrooms leaves you with a delicious, flavorful stock. It’s best to use a ladle to transfer this stock, discarding the last few tablespoons, where the grit from the dried mushrooms has settled.
- Bobby Flay goes full summer and tosses almost everything on the grill for his Mexican Charcoal Grilled Chicken Sinaloa Style with Grilled Corn, Black Bean and Quinoa Relish.
- Chipotle-Orange-Glazed Salmon is the kind of meal that leaves you full, but not stuffed. Chipotles in adobo sauce are great for adding smoky flavor to marinades and glazes. Reserve whatever you don’t use in an airtight container in the fridge and add it to a dressing or pot of chili. Check out some tips for using chipotles in adobo.
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