Monday, May 24, 2010

Toasted and Creamy Quinoa

If quinoa can be toasted, how is it also creamy? Easy-peasy. Toasting the quinoa prior to cooking it reveals a beautiful and subtle nutty flavour that is sometimes drowned out by the earthy quality some people tend to find undesirable with quinoa. I'm the opposite: I love earthy foods, I find them to have a freshness that feels like you are biting into a piece of the farm (not the farmer!) who grew the produce, just for you. As we all know, quinoa is a complete protein; this means that you don't need to combine it with another food to truly capture all the complex amino acids that are generally found in meat. This makes quinoa perfect for vegetarians and vegans (although, you'd have to swap the quark for a vegan cream cheese).

The Quinoa

1-1.5 cups quinoa
2 stock cubes*
salt, pepper to taste
2 tsbp. quark or other creamy cheese

1. Heat olive oil in a pan. You'll need just enough oil to lightly coat the quinoa kernels so they don't scorch.

2. Toast the quinoa. This is the same principle as popping your own popcorn. Toss it a fair amount to avoid burning. Just know that every time you toss it, the quinoa loses a bit of the heat.

3. Once sufficiently toasted (about 5-10 minutes) add water and the stock cubes.** Cook covered and on medium low heat for 20-25 minutes, or until the "tails" are released. Toasting the quinoa first lowers the cooking time in the water. You also need a bit less water.

4. Stir in enough cheese until creamy. I do believe I may have started with 2 tablespoons then added more later, so the 2 tablespoons is a good base. Add more at your discretion. Salt and pepper to taste.

*I use stock that I make myself from leftover bones and veggies. You can see how to do it here. I freeze some of the stock in ice cube trays for those times when I need a punch of flavour but don't want a whole bunch of stock. Beware packaged soup stock, often it has wheat in it.

**A few years ago one of Mr.'s cousins stayed with us for a bit. It was quite an experience and while I learned many things, my favourite was how to make rice (or another grain) without measuring. Pour your rice/quinoa into the pot and add enough water so that it is about 2 centimetres above the top, bring to a boil and reduce to medium low like usual. Works every time.

This makes an excellent side to any meal as it is light and fragrant and it covers a lot of nutritional needs. Enjoy!


  1. Quinoa is one of my favorite grains, and I think this recipe sounds simple and delicious. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I need to try it. It looks very healthy!

    Alba H. Rodriguez

  3. Monet: My pleasure!

    Alba: It is super healthy and it's yummy.

    Magic: Thank you!