Monday, January 23, 2012

I have no idea how to pronounce "Quinoa"

Quinoa...before this year, I had no idea what this little nugget was. I'd never heard of it and if someone mentioned the name, I'd assume it was something inedible. But now, all of a sudden, it is some hip food that everyone wants to get their hands on...or just know what the heck it is.

Basically, it is almost like a is the harvested seed of a type of flower. In the kitchen, it cooks similarly to rice or cous cous. I like to cook it in the rice cooker because there is literally nothing easier in the world (details to follow). It has a little more gusto than cous cous and is a filling, more nutritious alternative to white rice.

I found that a lot of quinoa recipes have paired this food with beans, corn, crispy vegetables and light vinaigrettes. I did my own version of these recipes using only that food which I had around the house that complimented the nutty richness of the quinoa. I also needed a light dinner after I "stress ate" at lunch and indulged in a Buffalo Chicken Calzone...

So here it is. My Warm Roasted Corn and Quinoa Salad!

Here's what you need:
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 cup frozen broccoli florets
1 can whole kernel corn
1 small onion, CARAMELIZED! (or half of a larger onion)
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
Salt, Pepper, Dried Basil
1/2 cup of lemon juice

Here's what you do:
Get the quinoa and water in a rice cooker (or simmering over low heat in a medium pot). RICE COOKERS RULE!

On a small (lightly greased) sheet pan, spread out the can of corn and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pop into a 375 degree oven for as long as the quinoa cooks or until it is crispy and a golden yellow color.
Go back a few posts on "Gas Stove Girl" and get your small onion caramelized (I found in this salad the darker the caramel, the BETTER)
Set aside your finished onions and put a small amount of water in the pan. Add the broccoli florets, season with salt and pepper, and cover over high heat. This will quickly steam the florets.

When the quinoa has absorbed all the water in the rice cooker, lightly fluff with a fork and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Combine the onions, broccoli (if the florets are fairly large, cut up into smaller pieces), quinoa, roasted corn, cheese, and basil. Use a fork because you don't want to muddle up the quinoa -- fluffy quinoa is GOOD quinoa!
Drizzle just enough lemon juice (or some other light dressing) to cover and stir (once again, you just want the essence of flavor here. Don't drown your salad as it is flavorful enough!).
Serve and enjoy guilt free after a carbolicious lunch! :-)

So listen guys, this isn't glamorous and this simple salad does not make me the next great chef (though Food Network inquiries always welcome!). But sometimes, when you still want a flavorful dinner and need a lighter option that isn't just lettuce in a bowl, consider a quinoa salad! The cheese here makes it creamy and combined with the quinoa will leave you feeling full and satisfied.

How do you cook quinoa? Do you know how to pronounce the word?!

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