Friday, October 17, 2008


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!

For salad:
Chill, and eat plain or over a bed of lettuce.

Photo time!

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!


Heard by God said...

Hey Beth! Do you know offhand if it's considered gluten-free? I'd love to try it, but half the family can't have any gluten-containing grain.

Also, do you facebook? It seems to be the only internet medium by which I am a faithful contributor, so if you're on -- add me, kay?

LOVE following your blog!

Becky said...

Sounds yummy! I'm going to have to try that!

LOL about the "fish eyes". I'll never look at quinoa the same again.

Crockpot Lady said...

this is fantastic! I've bookmarked it, thank you so much for the heads up!

and yup, quinoa is most definitely gluten free---the only thing to consider in this recipe is that the broth used is safe.


Jen said...

Thank you for posting that yummy recipe! I'll have to try it out.

I have a whole family full of gluten intolerant/celiac sprue sufferers, so I can tell far as it being gluten-free...yes and no. Quinoa by itself is gluten-free, but when you get into quinoa flakes or other processed versions, it may not be (as it could have been processed on equipment that is used for other grain products).

Our Scoop said...

Thanks for the recipes! I love quinoa!! Yummy!!

beckiwithani said...

I'm so glad you love this recipe! Mom loves it, too. That's cool to know you can do it in the Crock Pot. I'll have to try it.

And for all you quinoa lovers, you MUST try this recipe for Quinoa Salad with Lemon Tahini: (I put it on my own website because I got it out of, interestingly enough, a free magazine sent to me by my health insurance company. I couldn't find it anywhere online, and I do all my recipes online, so I put it up myself.) This recipe is as I found it, but I've added lots of extra parsley, plus dill and chives, and extra lemon juice and a little more salt, when I've made it. It's even better the next day.

Cathy said...

I use it all the time and have several recipes if you want to try other! 2 that come to mind: quinoa and mushmroom stirfry and quinoa pilaf...I made something out of it at your house, but don't remember what. -mom
Becki- I've not yet tried the lemon one- you gave me the recipe - I'll try it soon!

Anonymous said...

I'm going to see if I can even find quinoa. If I do, I'll be back to get a recipe!

C. Beth said...

Heard by God--Looks like you got great answers on the GF question from other posters! No, I'm not on Facebook. I can't get into one MORE online obsession! ;) Okay, I feel silly, but I can't remember who you are and your profile isn't, Heard by God, please refresh my senile memory!!

Becky--Hope the "fish eyes" didn't ruin quinoa for you forever! :)

Crockpot Lady Steph--Thank you so much for coming to visit the blog again and for the GF info! If you post this on your blog I will feel like such a rock star. (Right now I'm just a lowly Crockpot Lady groupie--ha!!)

Jen--Thank you for the GF info!

K--I bet you'll love it!!

Becki--I think I better try that other recipe! Thanks!

Mom--This is actually the one you made when you were here--that's how I heard about it (and you told me Becki had told you about it.) The thought of quinoa with mushrooms is enough to gag me but I'd love the quinoa pilaf recipe!

Sandra--You know, if you can't find it, e-mail me. I'll send you some!

Heard by God said...

Hey Beth! It totally occurred to me later today that you'd have no idea who I was, & I never signed my name. I am SO sorry -- it's Danna, back from the BBC days. My blog is private for a handful of reasons.

You should come on facebook -- I'm trying to convince JL too.

Everyone else, thank you so much for the GF info. 5/6ths of my household is GF, & so I'm always on the lookout.

C. Beth said...

Danna!!! Oh, it's great to hear from you! Thanks for visiting the blog! Facebook is tempting...but I'm already wanting to lessen my Internet time so for now I have to tie my hands together so they aren't allowed to get me a Facebook account.... But e-mail me if you get a chance and we can chat more. cbethblog (at) gmail (dot) com--or if you still have my other e-mail addy (the one with my last name in it), it works still.

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the recipe, Beth. It looks really good. My husband who is a very picky eater loves quinoa. I often make it as a side dish...cooked with half chicken broth/half water, it's delicious.