20161005_200543I had a request for recipes involving quinoa, sooo this will be the first in a series of quinoa posts. 🙂

Why is quinoa so great?  It has all 8 essential amino acids.  It is delicious and nutty and wonderful.  It is super fast and easy to cook.  It has all the benefits of pasta without any  of the drawbacks: it has a relatively low glycemic index instead of a high one, and it is a whole grain rather than being a processed grain stripped of all its nutrients like the most commonly consumed forms of pasta. It is a fast and easy addition to any meal to help you get whole grains in your diet.  It makes you feel fuller for longer- probably because of the fiber, protein, B vitamins, and whatever else it contains that processed grains lack.  Additionally, you can toast quinoa much the way you would make popcorn on the stove without oil.  This topping allows you to add crunch to salads without using croutons (a.k.a., processed white bread grain with no nutrients and fat), or crunch to cereal/yogurt without all the sugar that is in granola.

For this particular recipe, I was cleaning out my garden at the onset of late fall, and wanted to use my basil and tomatoes before the first frost.  You could easily incorporate quinoa into any recipe that contains a whole grain, whether that be for breakfast seasoned like oatmeal, or in a Mexican rice and bean dish for dinner.  But more on that in subsequent quinoa posts.


1.) Jar of pesto or see notes below

2.)  1.5 cups of dried quinoa

3.)  1.5 cups chopped fresh tomatoes or equivalent amount of chopped canned tomatoes

4.)  1 X 16 oz can chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)

20161005_174933Pesto:  You can either purchase a jar a pesto from the store, or make it yourself.  Of course, making it yourself is a more fragrant (omigosh fresh basil leaves), enjoyable way to cook, but it does make the recipe take 10-15 minutes longer.  Since I try to make recipes I post accessible to everyone and ready in less than 25 minutes, this recipe would take too long if I necessitated making your own pesto so… your call.   You need about 1/3 of a cup of pesto.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, I just looked a recipe up online.  Making half of the above recipe would be enough for this recipe. If you would prefer a vegan pesto, soaked and blended cashews are a good substitute for creamy dairy products including Parmesan cheese… 1/2 c cashews soaked overnight  blended with a dash of lemon juice and a tablespoon of  nutritional yeast until creamy would substitute for Parmesan in the above recipe.  For people who have problems with cholesterol or patients with heart problems, the second option with less animal products is best.

Ingredients necessary for pesto if following above recipe link: 2 c fresh basil leaves, 1/4 c olive oil, 1/6 c pine nuts, 1 garlic clove, 1/4 c freshly grated parmesan or cashew substitute, and a dash of salt.


20160914_220152If you like your Quinoa more firm/al dente, cook it with the lid off.  If you like your quinoa more creamy, cook it with the lid on.

1.) Rinse 1.5 cups of quinoa:put 1.5 cups of quinoa in a large bowl.  Add water until covered.  Swish it around, and pour the water off.  This is more important for quinoa in bulk; it washes off a bitter layer of the grain called a saponin.  Some packaged varieties come pre-washed.

2.)  Put 1.5 cups of quinoa in a pot with 3 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, then keep it there for 15 minutes.  All the water should be soaked into the quinoa by the end of cooking; if it’s not, let it cook until it is all soaked in or boiled off.  The trick here is to get the quinoa when it is soft and the water is gone but before it burns… you mainly have to watch it at that 15 minute mark to make sure that happens.

3.)  While it is cooking, prepare tomatoes and garbanzo beans.

  • Tomatoes: chop them up into bite size pieces, or just open the can.
  • Garbanzo beans: open the can, wash off the beans so they don’t have the thick canning liquid on them and are just nice, fresh bean pods.

Mixing it all Up

When the quinoa is done, combine it with tomatoes, garbanzo beans,  and pesto.  If it is of the correct temperature, serve.  If it is too cold, warm it up for several minutes in the pan.

Serves 4.