Say it with me: "KEEN-wah." That's how you pronounce "quinoa."
Heard of it? According to The World's Healthiest Foods website, "Quinoa is an amino acid-rich (protein) seed that has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and a somewhat nutty flavor when cooked. Most commonly considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. It is a recently rediscovered ancient 'grain' once considered 'the gold of the Incas.'" Sounds healthy, right? The beauty of it is, it also tastes good, and the texture is unique and fun.
I get quinoa in the bulk foods section of a large grocery store. It can also be found at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and other health food stores. It's affordable and easy to use. Rinse quinoa in a mesh strainer before cooking it.
I've just recently discovered quinoa and so I've only tried one recipe using it--but it's such a delicious, easy dish that I keep making it! I've added some ingredients and altered it for the Crock Pot. The original recipe is at All Recipes, and my version is below. (Thanks, Becki, for finding this recipe and suggesting the addition of tomatoes!)
Slow Cooker Quinoa and Black Beans
3/4 c. uncooked, rinsed quinoa
1 1/2 c. frozen corn kernels
2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes or Ro-Tel
2 small cans sliced black olives
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves minced garlic (1 1/2 teaspoons if you use jarred)
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 c. vegetable broth or chicken broth
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 c. chopped cilantro
Put everything in the slow cooker except the cilantro. Stir, and cook on HIGH for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or LOW 4-5 hours, until quinoa is puffed and translucent. Transfer to a bowl, and stir in the chopped cilantro.
For tacos or taco salad:
Use hot as filling or topping for soft tacos, hard tacos, or taco salad. Add light sour cream, salsa, cheese, lettuce, or any other toppings that sound tasty to you!
Chill, and eat plain or over a bed of lettuce.
Uncooked quinoa looks like small bird seed:
When quinoa is fully cooked, it will puff up and become translucent--or, according to The Engineer, it looks like fish eyes. Appetizing, huh?
And here's the finished product, right before I ate it, chilled, for breakfast. (No, it's not exactly traditional breakfast food, but when I got it of the fridge out to photograph it, I decided it looked tasty!)
For lunch I'll probably heat it up and have it with lettuce, crumbled tortilla chips, light sour cream, and cheese, as a taco salad. Mmm!
The Engineer, who is decidedly carnivorous, likes this enough to eat it (though he'd prefer brisket and mashed potatoes!), and Chickie ate a lot of it the night I made it. We served it (as soft taco filling) to a couple we know awhile back. She's vegetarian; he's not. They both loved it, and he asked for the recipe since he often doesn't care for meat-free entrees. I like a lot of vegetarian dishes, so when I semi-successfully "try one out" on my husband, it's a winner!