Looking for a little variety in your dietary life? Take a break from rice and give quinoa a try.
Not to be passed over by the likes of ice cream, pizza, and chocolate chip cookies, each of which has its own celebrated and wildly Instagrammable “day,” quinoa now has its own special day, too — and we like that, because we like quinoa.
January 16. Circle the date and stock the pantry.
Often thought of as a stand-in for the starchy staple rice, quinoa is, dare we say it, even better than rice. It’s nutty-tasting, for one thing. Packed with protein for another. Higher in fiber. And it takes so much less time to cook — just 15 worry-free minutes.
We’ll never stop loving rice, but we like variety, too, and quinoa delivers something a little different. It can be a side or part of the main show. It doesn’t have to be your new best friend, but it’s good company for the occasional meal together.
Here are a few recipes from Ancient Harvest, the quinoa people in Golden, Colorado, where they like to say their test kitchens are always busy “teaching ancient food new tricks.”
Quinoa Burrito Bowl
Serves 3 to 4
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 large red onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
3 jalapeños, sliced (optional)
1 cup Ancient Harvest Inca Red Quinoa
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup of water
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon chili powder
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon lime juice
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
1 avocado sliced
¼ cup cotija or goat cheese, crumbled
2 limes, quartered
Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat.
Add the onion and the bell peppers cook for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until caramelized. Turn heat down if browning too quickly. In a different pan (if you have one, if not use the same pan), heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat and add the jalapeños and cook each side for a couple minutes. Leave in the pan until ready to use.
Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to package instructions. Keep covered once done.
Heat the last teaspoon of olive oil in small pot over medium heat.
Add garlic and stir for about 1 minute. Add in the beans, ¼ cup of water, cumin, ground coriander, chili powder, and salt to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Fluff quinoa with a fork and stir in cilantro, lime juice, and salt to taste.
Serve quinoa topped with onions, bell peppers, beans, jalapeños, avocado, and cotija, with quartered limes on the side.
Tomato and Basil Quinoa Risotto
Serves 3 to 4
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1¼ cups Ancient Harvest Traditional Quinoa
3½ cups chicken stock
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups baby spinach, chopped
1 (14½-ounce) can diced tomato
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup of grated parmesan
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot (or pan with high edges) add the olive oil and turn to medium heat. Once hot, add the shallots and sauté until tender, for 5 – 6 minutes.
Add the garlic and stir for 30 – 60 seconds, until fragrant.
Add the quinoa to the pan and let toast for 3 – 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Slowly pour in the chicken stock, half a cup at a time, and stir. Let simmer for a couple of minutes until the broth is absorbed, stirring constantly. Continue to add the broth, and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, until mostly absorbed. Stir every 2 to 3 minutes. If it’s boiling or cooking too quickly, reduce the heat slightly.
Once the quinoa is cooked and the broth has been mostly absorbed, add the basil, lemon juice, spinach, and tomatoes. Stir and cook for another 3 – 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and finish with the parmesan. Serve immediately.
Vegan Quinoa Paella
Serves 3 to 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1 cup diced carrots
1 diced red pepper
3 cups vegetable broth, divided
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts
½ cup frozen peas
1 (14½-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon saffron
1½ cups Ancient Harvest Traditional Quinoa
½ tablespoon paprika
½ tablespoon turmeric
Salt to taste
Lemon, parsley, and olives for serving
Heat a paella pan or shallow skillet on medium heat and add the olive oil, onion, and garlic. Add the chopped carrot and chopped pepper, along with 1 cup of vegetable broth. Add the sliced mushrooms and artichoke hearts, sliced in half. Add the peas, tomatoes, tomato paste, and stir.
In a small bowl, mix the saffron with 1 – 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth. Add the quinoa to the pan, along with the saffron, paprika, turmeric, and salt.
Give the paella one last stir to make sure the ingredients are evenly distributed. After this, do not stir again! Cover the paella and cook it on high heat for 7 minutes. Then lower the heat to low/medium and cook for another 10 minutes.
Finally, remove your paella from the heat. Top with fresh parsley, olives, and lemon wedges.