Give Me Quinoa: Hot or Cold, for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner! [Fierce Foodie]
I am a big fan of quinoa, not because it has the “health food” stamp, and not because it’s a “superfood” that sustained the Inca Empire, but because it really is a delicious and extremely adaptable food. You can make it Indian curry style, Italian style, Chinese style, and the list goes on. You can serve it with eggs for breakfast, with beans for a light vegetarian meal, or pair it with roast chicken and fresh veggies for a complete dinner. And best of all, it’s pretty cheap, especially if you buy it in bulk from a health food store.
Quinoa has an agreeable nutty flavor and light texture that tastes good hot, warm and cold. I love how it goes from looking like a collection of tiny pebbles when its uncooked to a light brown translucent mass, with the outer part of the grain separating to form slightly crunchy C-shaped bits.
I’ve tried the following recipe hot for dinner, warm with a salad for lunch, and cold with a hot fried egg for breakfast. All three times, it was yum!
Quinoa with Onions, Tomatoes, and White Beans (2-4 servings)
1 cup quinoa
1 medium onion, sliced into medium strips
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can white cannellini beans
1-2 Tbsp vegetable oil
Fresh ground salt and black pepper
In a deep pot with a lid, heat the oil at low/medium heat. Add onion and stir occasionally until they start to brown. Do not let the onion burn; turn down the heat if you see any blackness. After a few minutes, add the garlic.
While the onions cook, prepare your quinoa. To avoid clumping you need to rinse the quinoa in cold water. This can be complicated with your average strainer because the holes are usually too large and the quinoa kernels will fall through. Either use a mesh strainer with very small holes or a cheesecloth to rinse the quinoa thoroughly. I went ahead and invested in a mesh strainer because it is also useful for rinsing basmati and jasmine rice.
Generally 1 cup of quinoa requires 2 cups liquid, but I always find myself adding more liquid as it cooks. Once the onion looks brownish, add the quinoa and 2 cups water. Then add the can of tomatoes with their fluid. At this point I like to add some salt and pepper and put on the lid. Let the quinoa simmer, checking every so often to make sure there is still liquid. There should be no sticking to the bottom of the pot. Quinoa isn’t cooked until the hard little grains plump up and turn translucent, and their little C-shaped coats come off. This usually takes about 20-25 minutes at low to medium simmer.
Wash and strain the white beans, then add them at the end and let the whole thing simmer for 5-7 minutes or so. These beans are nice and creamy; add them last so they don’t get mushy. Salt and pepper again to taste.
Hot, this dish as is goes well with grated Parmesan cheese. My guy likes to add smoked chipotle sauce. For Italian flavor, season with basil and oregano at the end. For an Indian flavor, add to the frying onions 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground cumin, and ½ teaspoon turmeric. For an Asian flavor, add ¼ cup soy sauce, 1 tsp grated fresh ginger, and a can of sliced water chestnuts and a can of sliced bamboo shoots instead of canned tomatoes and beans. For something vaguely Peruvian, leave out the tomatoes and instead add to the sautéed onions 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 ½ tsp ground coriander, and 1 tsp dried basil. Serve with plenty of parmesan cheese.
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featured image credit: edibleoffice