Bubbles. That’s what quinoa reminds me of. Biting into it feels like popping bubble wrap. The nutty flavor is released and so is, apparently, my childish side. Yet so many people have told me they don’t like this beautiful grain. I think it’s because they are not very familiar with it and they are not sure how to cook or season it. Let me explain.
My love for quinoa developed slowly. I remember cooking it the first time in water and thinking I’m a health nut, but here I draw the line. It tasted bland and strange–the texture bulbous and bizarre. I gave up on it. Then my husband and I tried quinoa salad at a local natural food store. It had chickpeas, parsley, cranberries, dates and a spicy aftertaste. Oh, it was good. From that point on I experimented. Soon I found that if I cooked the quinoa in chicken broth or vegetable broth, it tasted far better. From that point on I substituted quinoa for rice in everything. Instead of Singapore noodles I made a curried quinoa with shrimp, eggs and scallions. We made quinoa “fried rice.” And once I ran out of noodles for chicken soup, I tore the pantry apart searching for at least a few stray strands of rice noodles in left over packaging and found nothing, but quinoa. In it went. I was surprised it tasted much better than any noodles in chicken soup I ever had. Perhaps that’s why it brings out the childish side. When I finish my quinoa meals I always play with a few left over bubbles of quinoa. I can’t imagine a food more fun to eat.
This vegetable quinoa recipe came out of not having time to cook a more complex “fried rice” quinoa. I realized it was a quick, healthy meal and an awesome source of carbs. When I looked at the nutritional information, I was in love. I literally dropped the bag and little uncooked bubbles of quinoa rolled all over the floor. For a half cup of this grain you get about 14 grams of protein. That’s the equivalent of two large eggs. With that come 6 grams of fiber. Oh, yea. Enjoy.
Quinoa, 1/2 cup, cooked in chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
6-8 Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced, stems removed
Frozed Peas, 1/4 cup, defrosted
Coconut Aminos, 3-5 tbsp. (or tamari)
Garlic Powder, 12/ tsp.
Chili Flakes, 1/2 tsp.
Olive or Sesame Oil, 1 tbsp.
1. Cook quinoa in chicken or vegetable broth in a rice cooker and set aside. (I use Living Now brand of quinoa becuase it is organic and produced in an allergen safe facililty. So if you have allergies to nuts, soy or gluten, you’re safe.) Defrost peas in lukewarm water.
2. Warm a pan with olive oil. Once heated add mushrooms and coconut aminos, garlic powder and chili flakes. Let simmer until mushrooms release water. Stir in peas.
3. Let simmer and stir for 2 more minutes and serve.