June 20, 2011

Quinoa and Beet Pilaf

A year ago I'd never even attempted to pronounce quinoa, let alone cook with it. What a difference a year makes!

uncooked quinoa
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), is a highly nutritious grain. Unlike many other plant foods, it is a complete protein. Quinoa has become extremely popular lately and you can find it at any grocey store.

Uncooked quinoa resembles tiny white seeds (there’s also a red variety). Uncooked, it has a slightly musty smell. But don’t let that put you off. Once cooked, quinoa becomes light and fluffy, with a subtle nuttiness that’s ready to absorb whatever flavors you throw at it.

Cooking quinoa is as easy as cooking rice. You just simmer it in boiling water then fluff before serving. Like rice, quinoa makes a nice bed for curries and stir fries. But it's more nutritious than rice, higher in protein, fiber and iron. 

When I first started cooking with quinoa, I mostly used it as a rice substitute. Lately, though, I’ve been looking for more creative uses. I’ve seen recipes for breakfast quinoa porrige, quinoa pudding, quinoa meatloaf and quinoa patties. Do a Google search for “quinoa recipes” and you’ll be amazed at what comes up.

peeled and steamed beets from Trader Joe's  

Or pair your quinoa with beets and spinach (nutritional powerhouses in their own right) to make what I like to call Superhero Salad. I picked up peeled and steamed beets at Trader Joe's, which saved me a lot of time and effort. The beets gave the pilaf an earthy, sweet flavor and the beet juice colored the quinoa a beautiful pink.

Cook the quinoa according to the directions on your package.

Cut your beets into small chunks. Beets will stain anything, so carefully clean off your cutting board and counters.

Cook the spinach in garlic and olive oil until it is wilted.

Add the beets, quinoa, vinegar, salt and pepper to the spinach and stir to combine. Feel free to get creative here with herbs, spices or other flavorings.

Serve your Superhero Salad!

Quinoa and Beet Pilaf

Inspired by a recipe in the New York Times

1 cup uncooked quinoa (makes about 4 cups cooked quinoa)
8 oz peeled and steamed or roasted beets
6 oz baby spinach
Salt to taste
1 to 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp red wine vinegar

1.      Cook quinoa according to package directions. Set aside.
2.      Cut the beets into small chunks. Set aside.
3.      Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute. Add the spinach and cook until wilted.
4.      Add the beets and quinoa. Toss together until the ingredients are well combined and the quinoa is heated through and colored with beet juice. Add red wine vinegar and combine. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.
5.      Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish.

1 comment:

  1. My husband loves beets and I love quinoa....looks like a winner!


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