Quin-what?

quinoa

The first time I had quinoa I was probably in high school. My aunt made a quinoa salad with grape tomatoes, almonds, and shrimp with a lemony dressing. I liked it and it kind of reminded me of couscous which I like. In the past couple years quinoa has been blowing up with the healthy/clean eating movement since it has many health benefits: high in protein, gluten-free, whole grain, low in cholesterol, etc. It's a healthy and filling substitute for white rice or pasta. 

As I mentioned before, my mom is an amazing cook and pretty much conquers everything she tries. She learned a basic cooking method for quinoa from Giada De Laurentiis. As part of her California Turkey Chili recipe, she includes how to make a quinoa pilaf to accompany the chili. First of all, I love a good chili. Topped with sour cream, chopped green onions, shredded cheese - who could resist? While I do love the classic beef chili, Giada's turkey chili could give even the best firehouse beef chili a run for its money. The fact that it's made with ground turkey is just an added bonus. Less fat doesn't always mean less flavor. With white cannellini beans, a ton of cumin, and dried oregano, it can't be beat. I'm really getting off-topic here. And developing a serious craving for this chili. Now that I think about it, I'm going to have to do a post on it. It's too good not to. It would actually be unfair to keep it to myself. 

Back to the KEEN-WAH. 

So what we have here is an adapted version of Giada's quinoa pilaf that is a gateway to countless other quinoa dishes.

Quinoa Pilaf (Adapted from Giada)

Ingredients
- 1 cup of quinoa
- 2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
- ¼ cup of chopped cilantro (Honestly, use however much you'd like - this is not something I've ever measured. Just stop when it smells cilantro-y enough and looks nice and colorful)
If you don't like cilantro, you can use parsley or any other green that you'd like.

  1. Pour your quinoa into a small pot and fill it with water. Rinse the quinoa gently and drain through a sieve. The quinoa I usually buy comes pre-rinsed but I like to give it an extra swish. 
  2. Heat your pot over medium heat with a little olive oil. Return the quinoa to the pot and stir it around allowing it to dry and toast slightly. 
  3. Increase the heat to med-high and pour in the chicken broth. Let it come to a rolling boil. Once there, place the lid on the pot and lower the heat to the lowest possible temperature without turning it off. Allow it to simmer for at least 15 minutes (Do NOT open the lid before the 15 minutes are up! You don't want to let all the heat escape)
  4. After 15 minutes, turn the stove off completely and let it sit with the lid on for 5 more minutes. 
  5. Throw in your chopped herbs and using a wooden spoon, fluff the quinoa. It is ready!