KITCH 121: Quinoa

In the past couple of years, quinoa has become increasingly popular. It is probably because quinoa is something that almost anyone can eat, despite their dietary restrictions. Quinoa is vegetarian/ vegan friendly and gluten-free. And, since it is a protein instead of just a starch, it is great as a filling side dish or as a main course. You can treat it more or less the same way that you would treat couscous or rice. You can find quinoa with the other grains in the supermarket or in the bulk food section of health food stores like Hamilton Whole Foods.

Some recipes will instruct you to rinse and drain the quinoa before adding it to the boiling water. This is to be sure that you remove anything that might be on the quinoa that would make it taste bitter. Since most quinoa that is now available has already been cleaned, it is your decision wheth­er you rinse it or not. But, just for the record, I did rinse my quinoa before cooking it.

Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side dish

1 cup dry quinoa

2 cups water

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp (3 tsp) of extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 cup of diced mushrooms (cremini, portabella, shitake, button or just about any mushroom you can think of )

2 cups of fresh spinach leaves

1. Boil the two cups of water for the quinoa. If you want to change the portion size of the recipe, just be sure to keep the 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa. Once the water comes to a boil, liber­ally season it with kosher salt and add the quinoa. Reduce the heat to medium low, leave the lid on and let it cook for about 10-15 minutes, until all of the water is absorbed. Once it is done, stir in two teaspoons of olive oil to be sure that the quinoa doesn’t begin to stick together.

2. Heat the remaining teaspoon of olive oil in a pan and sauté the garlic, onions and mush­rooms on medium heat and season with kosher salt and pepper. Let cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until the onions become translucent and the mushrooms start to brown. Add in the spinach leaves and let cook for another 1-2 minutes.

3. Stir the vegetable mixture into the qui­noa, taste for salt and pepper and enjoy. Also, you may want to experiment with some extra toppings for additional flavor and texture. For example, try adding in golden raisins or slivered almonds once the quinoa has been cooked.

Contact Emily Suskin at [email protected].