special weekend post: quinoa

I have a thing for quinoa.

It all started back when I decided to go vegetarian for a few months.  I dipped and paddled my way through an assortment of new meals.  New flavors.  New ideas.  Some were interesting, most were delicious, and a few were disgusting (*cough, cough*veggie hotdogs*cough, cough*.)  In the end, I realized that eating a vegetarian diet was at its best and brightest when it was kept simple.  Yes, convenience is completely necessary in my life sometimes.  But for the real deal—to really see the vegetarian diet shine—you have to go back to basics.

Real food.  Real flavor.  Simple.

And that is when I first tried quinoa.  That little grain that kind of resembles a flotation device.  Not only does it boast a very high protein content, it’s also completely gluten free and super quick to cook: 15 minutes from boiling point to bowl.  What’s not to love?  I worked it into many of my meals.  It became the substitute for rice.  It became my breakfast of choice, paired with fresh maple syrup and fruit.  It worked marvelously with flavors ranging from soy sauce to tomato sauce to pesto.

Although I’m no longer a strict vegetarian, some of my favorite foods were discovered during the time that I was.  Quinoa was one of many, and tonight I threw together one of my favorite quinoa meals.  This dish has the potential to cook down and become more of a pilaf, but tonight I took it off the burner early enough to call it more of a chili.  It’s delicious served either way. 😀

Chickpea Quinoa Pilaf (or chili)—taken and tweaked from Veganomicon

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 T. ground coriander
  • fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 T. tomato paste + 1-15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained well
  • 1 c. quinoa
  • 1-15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 c. vegetable broth
  1. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, saute onions and garlic in olive oil for about 7 minutes.
  2. Add cumin through tomatoes, saute for another minute.
  3. Add quinoa and saute for 2 minutes
  4. Add chickpeas and broth; cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 18-20 minutes or until quinoa is tender and most of the liquid is evaporated.

Question: What is your favorite grain?