It used to be that few people, other than those on gluten-free diets, knew about quinoa. Those times are long gone. In the last year or so, there has been an explosion of quinoa awareness and recipes. And lucky for us!
This tasty, naturally gluten-free free food is high in fiber and contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It’s also a great source of lysine, manganese, magnesium, iron, calcium, copper and phosphorus. I may not know exactly what all that is, but I’m certain it’s the stuff of super food.
So, yea, quinoa’s good for you. Especially if you’re on a vegan and/or gluten-free diet.
Though commonly referred to as a grain, quinoa is a seed related to leafy green vegetables like spinach. It usually comes dry, just like whole grains or dried legumes, with a natural residue that can give a soapy taste. Though it can be a little tricky, rinse quinoa with cold water while rubbing the seeds together before cooking. This will get rid of the bitter, soapy flavor. Just be sure to use a fine-meshed strainer or you’ll lose your seeds!
Once your quinoa is thoroughly washed (and, truth be told, I skip this step when in a rush), you can cook it as you would rice. The rule of thumb is 2 cups water to 1 cup quinoa, but follow package instructions to be sure. Or, use the 2:1 ratio to cook quinoa in your rice cooker.
The result is amazing! Quinoa has a nutty, smoky flavor and fluffy, slightly crunchy texture that pops in your mouth. You can cook a bunch ahead of time and store in the fridge for 3-5 days. Or take advantage of how well quinoa freezes. I keep larger batches in the freezer for family meals and a ziplock full of 1-ounce cubes for packed lunches or when I need a quick dinner fix just for the kids.
Uncooked quinoa can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 months. Or, if you’re sure that no moisture can get in, store it in your cupboard.
Between its great flavor (that some say is an acquired taste) and superior nutritional profile, quinoa is certainly worth working into your family’s diet—even if you’re not on a strict gluten-free or vegan diet. Consider susbstituting quinoa for rice, oatmeal (yes, quinoa for breakfast!), bulgar or your favorite grain. Some markets have even started carrying pasta made out of quinoa, giving you another option for enjoying this ancient superfood.
One of our favorite ways to eat quinoa is in this gluten free Quinoa Huevos Rancheros with Salsa Verde. I’ve served this at breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s a very forgiving recipe; prepare it anyway that you like your huevos, substituting quinoa for tortillas or tortilla chips.
Tell us: what’s your favorite way to serve quinoa?!
Gluten-Free Quinoa Huevos Rancheros with Salsa Verde
1 c quinoa
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp favorite chile powder
3 c chopped spinach (optional; I prefer fresh, but you can substitute frozen)
2 15-oz cans black beans
4 Tbsp salsa verde, plus more for topping eggs*
1/2 c broth (vegetable or chicken work best)
2 tsp honey (skip if sharing with children under 12 mos)
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
butter, for frying eggs
eggs, as many as you need for the number of people you’re serving
garnishes, e.g., lime, chopped tomatoes, chopped red onion, pico de gallo, cilantro, shredded cheese, avocado, sour cream or plain yogurt
1. Cook quinoa in 2 cups water according to package directions. Set aside.
2. In the meantime, heat oil in a large skillet over medium flame. Saute onion and carrots until onions are translucent and carrots begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
3. Add spices and chopped spinach, and cook until spinach wilts. Add black beans, salsa and broth. Allow to cook until most of the broth evaporates. Stir in honey and vinegar. Cook 1 more minute, before taking off of the heat.
4. Fry eggs.
5. You can either layer the beans on top of the quinoa or mix them together. Place fried eggs on top and spoon salsa verde on top of that. Garnish as you wish. I like tomato, red onion, avocado, cilantro, sour cream or whole milk yogurt and lime. Lots of lime!
*Note: Here’s an easy salsa verde recipe that can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. Or use high-quiality store bought. I love the one available at Trader Joe’s.