Thursday, August 9, 2012


That's right, another recipe for you, something I've wanted to try for so long that it eventually made its way on the Summer Bucket List because I am more likely to do something if it's written on paper.  

Give me a 'Q'!  Give me a 'U'!  Give me an 'I', 'N', 'O', 'A'!

What's that spell?!?!

{cricket, cricket}

I'm not sure I've ever cooked something that I had to look up the proper pronunciation for.  For the first couple of weeks, Beau and I had more fun trying out different pronunciations for the word before we finally caved and let the audio on let us in on a little secret...

It's pronounced, 'Keen-Wha'.

Perhaps it was its name (which sounds like one of Cruz's battery-operated toys when it's about to kick the can), or the fact that we found it in the organic grain section of Hy-Vee, or that it comes from a plant called goosefoot, but I was a tad bit skeptical of quinoa.  Contrary to all the recipes, features, and Pinterest pictures I've seen highlighting the rare seed this summer, it looked bland and boring to me, so, it sat in a bag in our pantry until just last week.

We were grilling salmon fillets on cedar planks and I wanted something light and healthy to go with it.  I spotted the bag of quinoa in the pantry and decided to give it a whirl.  And to my, and especially my bacon-loving-meatarian husband, we were very impressed with the results.

It was fresh, colorful, and really delicious.  We served it cold, with a variety of our favorite vegetables and fresh lime juice as sauce. It really holds the flavors and creates something a little spectacular in your mouth.  Have you ever heard food critics use the phrase, 'the flavors were dancing in my mouth?'  I realize now they were eating some quinoa ;)

Before I give away the recipe we used, here are five interesting facts about this lovely little seed...

1.  Although one might think quinoa is closely related to a grain or cereal, it is actually called a pseudocereal, and is most closely related to beets, spinach, and tumbleweed.

2.  The Incas treated quinoa as a sacred crop and referred to it as 'the mother of all grains.'

3.  2013 has been declared the International Year of Quinoa by the United Nations.

4.  Quinoa is full of protein, and is an excellent source of fiber, calcium, and is gluten-free.

5.  Quinoa has been a popular food in Central and South America since 3000 BC.     

Recipe for Summertime Quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed 
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped 
1/4 cup banana pepper, finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped 
1 teaspoon curry powder 
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro 
1 lime, juiced 
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds 
1/2 cup minced carrots 
1/2 cup dried cranberries 
salt and ground black pepper to taste 

1.  Pour the water into a saucepan, and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil over high heat, then pour in the quinoa, recover, and continue to simmer over low heat until the water has been absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Scrape into a mixing bowl, and chill in the refrigerator until cold. 

2.  Once cold, stir in the red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, red onion, curry powder, cilantro, lime juice, sliced almonds, carrots, and cranberries. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill before serving.

What about you?  Ever had quinoa?  What are your favorite add-ins/dishes/meals using the stuff?  What other weird foods should I be adding to my repertoire?  

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