Thursday, July 15, 2010

Did you buy Quinoa at Costco?

Ok, so its fair to say that I post quinoa recipes often. This is not because I am obsessed with quinoa...its actually not even on my top 5 favourite grains, if you must know!

But other people seem to love it! Perhaps its the fact that it cooks up quick, or maybe its because somehow quinoa has been marketed quite heavily in the last few years - making appearances in all of the mainstream health and diet mags. OR...maybe its because you can buy it at Costco!

Several of my clients have mentioned that they 'picked up some quinoa at Costco', presumably because they thought it was healthy, but 'don't know what to do with it'. I can only presume that if you too bought quinoa at Costco, you have a lot of it, and are looking for some inspiration!

So here we are!

Quinoa (say KEEN-wah) is the "wonder grain": high in protein, provides calcium, iron, phosphorous, vitamin E, and lysine, is gluten-free, easy to digest, and quick to cook. Higher in unsaturated fat and lower in carbohydrates than most grains (technically, it’s a seed), and it’s also a complete protein, since it contains every essential amino acid. It is an excellent replacement for rice or millet in cereals, main dishes, soups, side dishes, salads, and desserts and it cooks in half the time as rice.

Rinse and drain it, then cook it like pasta (in a large pot of boiling water) or rice (two parts water to one part grain). It makes a delicious breakfast (with sweet or savory additions), pilaf, and salad; it can also be added to baked goods.

To prepare: rinse thoroughly by rubbing grains together in water in order to remove the bitter outer coating (saponin). Bring 2-3 cups water to boil and add 1 cup quinoa, reduce heat and simmer 25-30 minutes or until tender. Cook in stock for rice like dishes, or add dried fruit for breakfast flavours.

Spicy Quinoa, Cucumber and Tomato Salad

This refreshing summer salad can sit in the refrigerator for a few hours without deteriorating, so it makes a great choice for bringing to work or to a summer picnic.

1 cup quinoa

3 cups water

Salt to taste

2 cups diced cucumber

1 small red onion, finely minced (optional)

2 cups finely diced tomatoes

1 to 2 jalapeƱo or serrano peppers (to taste), seeded if desired and finely chopped

1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus several sprigs for garnish

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 avocado, sliced, for garnish

1. Place the quinoa in a bowl, and cover with cold water. Let sit for five minutes. Drain through a strainer, and rinse until the water runs clear. Bring the 3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add salt (1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon) and the quinoa. Bring back to a boil, and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer 15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and translucent; each grain should have a little thread. Drain off the water in the pan through a strainer, and return the quinoa to the pan. Cover the pan with a clean dishtowel, replace the lid and allow to sit for 10 minutes. If making for the freezer, uncover and allow to cool, then place in plastic bags. Flatten the bags and seal.

2. Meanwhile, place the finely diced cucumber in a colander, and sprinkle with salt. Toss and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Rinse the cucumber with cold water, and drain on paper towels. If using the onion, place in a bowl and cover with cold water. Let sit for five minutes, then drain, rinse with cold water and drain on paper towels.

3. Combine the tomatoes, chiles, cilantro, vinegar, lime juice and olive oil in a bowl. Add the cucumber and onion, season to taste with salt, and add the quinoa and cilantro. Toss together, and taste and adjust seasonings. Serve garnished with sliced avocado and cilantro sprigs.

Yield: Serves six.

Advance preparation: The quinoa freezes well, and the assembled salad will keep for a day in the refrigerator. The leftovers will be good for a couple of days.

Nutritional information per serving: 236 calories; 14 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 25 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams dietary fiber; 12 milligrams sodium (does not include salt added during cooking); 6 grams protein

Recipe and info from the NY TIMES, available at


  1. And its Peruvian! Which makes it even more awesome! The Quechua people call it the Mother Grain so its even more appropriate for your blog :) Your recipe looks yum!
    Last night I made quinoa tortilla, ideal for eating while breastfeeding - red onion, 4 little tomatoes and courgete fried and then 4 eggs in the pan then under the grill, ideal t grab a slice when baby stops feeding for 5 minutes!

  2. Thanks for the quinoa recipes. And Garratty, the quinoa tortilla you made seems like a mouth-watering snack. i should try that!