Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Well, I finally did it. I have been wanting to try a quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) for what seems like forever. I have gone back and forth for awhile always looking at it when we went to the store, but had two reasons for being hesitant. One, quinoa can be a little spendy. Two, I had no idea how to cook it. More recently, I've been keeping my eye out for quinoa recipes that pop up on blogs, and now I've got quite the stack. Since that blew my second excuse, I figured it was time to bite the bullet and try it out :-)
Because I had never made it before, I did a little bit of research: Quinoa is a grain originally eaten by the Incas in South America. When cooked, quinoa has a fluffy consistency, and it is touted for its slightly nutty taste. Probably one of the coolest things about quinoa is that it is a complete protein and also boasts calcium, iron, and B vitamins.
I'm not sure what made me settle on this stuffed pepper recipe for my first go at quinoa, but I can tell you that I definitely enjoyed it. I changed the recipe a little based on what I have on hand but kept most things the same. One thing I wondered about was rinsing versus soaking the quinoa to remove the bitter taste that can be left beind. In my research, I found suggestions varying from needing to soak it overnight to just rinsing it off before cooking. I didn't soak mine at all, only rinsing, and I can't say that I noticed a bitter flavor at all.
With the exception of this recipe, another thing I like about quinoa is that many of the recipes seem to be summer friendly requiring no baking time in the oven. I'm thinking that I may need to learn to be better about this since I will soon be living in Arizona :-)
Now I just need to pick out the next recipe since I've got another 1/2 cup of uncooked quinoa that's just begging to be cooked...
Adapted from Delicious Living
3 medium bell peppers, varied colors but with flat bottoms so they stand
1/2 c. quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 c. water
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 c. soy nuts
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 small zucchini, peeled and chopped
2 oz. spinach leaves
1/2 can (14.5 oz can total) Italian-style diced tomatoes drained
couple shakes of sea salt
1/4 c. feta cheese plus a little extra for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Meanwhile carefully cut around bell pepper stems to create a hole large enough to remove seeds and ribs. Cut an additional half inch off the top and chop these pieces and set aside. When the water boils, submerge the bell peppers and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain in a large colander and set aside.
Combine quinoa and water in a medium saucepan with a lid. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the lid and fluff with a fork.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add reserved chopped bell pepper and stir-fry for another 5 minutes. Add soy nuts, diced tomatoes, and cumin and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add zucchini, spinach, and salt. Stir-fry for 3 additional minutes then add cooked quinoa and the 1/4 cup feta cheese.
Set cooked peppers in a large rectangular baking dish coated with non-stick cooking spray. Fill each pepper with quinoa mixture. Sprinkle remaining feta cheese over tops. Bake for 20 minutes and serve warm.
Make ahead tip: Assemble and refrigerate; allow an extra 5-10 minutes for cooking.