It's pronounced "keen-wa"
Carnivorously speaking, quinoa gets the shaft. It’s one of those “healthy” grains that meat-eaters generally lump into the domain of vegetarians, vegans, and the gluten-averse. While quinoa happens to pack boat-loads of protein, magnesium, iron, fiber, and riboflavin (and lord knows we all need more riboflavin) into every fluffy little whole-grain, its also an excellent accompaniment to meats of all kinds and therefore deserves some respect from the omnivorous among us.
Quinoa has a mild nutty flavor and a slightly crunchy texture that kind of “pops” in your mouth and it's super-easy to prepare. It definitely has blandness potential, but no more so than couscous or rice, and that actually points to its versatility. It’s fab tossed with either a fruity or herb-y vinaigrette, and served alongside burgers and hot dogs at a barbeque. I’ve served quinoa with lamb and beef, since it works really well with gravies and sauces. And most recently, I paired a veggie filled Quinoa pilaf with Sauteed Pork Medallions in a Mustard-Curry sauce with Tomato Chutney (As you can see in this lovely, poor-quality photo. I promise I'm working on upgrading my food photography skillz.)
The only reason I can imagine that it’s not the Most Popular Grain in School is that the Quinoa Growers of America aren’t springing for a Super Bowl spot or adequately financing the quinoa lobby. Or maybe they’re a bunch of gluten-averse vegans hoarding all the high-potassium goodness for themselves.
Quinoa Pilaf with Spinach & Carrots
Serves 4 as a side
1 Tbsp. olive oil
½ cup diced onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken stock
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup peeled baby carrots
2 cups fresh spinach, stemmed and washed or baby spinach leaves
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Put the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse well, to remove the saponins.
2. Heat a medium saucepan and then add the olive oil. Sauté onion until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds to a minute.
3. Add chicken stock, rinsed quinoa, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until most, but not all, of the liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, steam the carrots in the microwave until barely crisp-tender; put the carrots and a few tablespoons of water in a bowl, cover, and nuke for 2-3 minutes. Alternatively, you can use a vegetable steamer.
5. When there’s still a tiny bit of liquid in the quinoa, add the carrots and the spinach and toss. Replace cover and cook until spinach is wilted and carrots are tender. Add more salt, if needed, and pepper to taste.