A Healthy Alternative: Quinoa

Baby spinach is my enemy right now. I usually love the leafy green, but after packing it everyday for lunch, it has become the opposite of appetizing. I’m sure that I will crave it again soon enough, but for the time being, I am seeking healthy lunch alternatives. Last week, I decided to make quinoa.

I love quinoa. (Pronounced keen-wah) If you’ve never tried it, you should. Its a nutritious grain, high in fiber, iron, and amino acids. Plus its gluten-free! I’m also going to say it tastes healthy, but not in a bad way. I promise. It has a very mild, almost nutty flavor, giving it wide potential for different flavor pairings. My favorite thing about the grain is the texture. It has a bit of a crunch and won’t get soggy easily. I’ve made burnt quinoa before, but I’ve never overcooked it to the point of mush. 
Anywho. Hopefully at this point I’ve sold you on the cute little grain. This recipe is from Gourmet  and is definite keeper. Its filled with black beans and tomatoes, making it very filling and even more nutritious. Lime zest, lime juice, and a bit of cilantro brighten the flavor, making the dish very summery and very yummy. The only change I would make for next time would be to substitute olive oil for butter. I will also add more zest and juice. (Although I didn’t measure my add-ins, so the recipe may actually be spot-on) Enjoy!

Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa
Gourmet, July 2007 

  • 2 teaspoons grated lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 (14- to 15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Whisk together lime zest and juice, butter, oil, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.
Rinse quinoa with cold water, draining in sieve. 
Cook quinoa in a medium pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in sieve, then set sieve in same pot with 1 inch of simmering water (water should not touch bottom of sieve). Cover quinoa with a folded kitchen towel, then cover sieve with a lid (don’t worry if lid doesn’t fit tightly) and steam over medium heat until tender, fluffy, and dry, about 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat and remove lid. Let stand, still covered with towel, 5 minutes. **
Add quinoa to dressing and toss until dressing is absorbed, then stir in remaining ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste. 
**This can be a bit time consuming. I have found it fine to follow the directions on the back of the quinoa package, usually requiring you to cook for 10-15 minutes straight 


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