Meat Free Mondays – Quinoa

You are starting to hear more about quinoa lately.

Quinoa is a lot like rice, except it’s better for you and easier to cook. I’ve already chronicled my struggles to make brown rice. Quinoa gives you the same nutritional value with half the effort. It’s almost impossible to screw up and, in my opinion, the flavor is far superior.

Plus quinoa comes with an incredible back story. It originally comes from Central and South America, where it was held sacred by the Incas more than 4,000 years ago as the “mother of all grains.” Traditionally, the Inca emperor would sow the first grains of the growing season using golden implements.

When the Spanish conquistadores invaded that area in the 15th Century and discovered the Incas praying to their quinoa, they burned their crops and forced them to grow wheat instead.

Fortunately, quinoa staged a comeback and today is becoming increasingly popular as a base for salads, side dishes and even this entree.

In fact, the United Nations has declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa. Take that, conquistadores!

Yellow Squash Stuffed with Quinoa

1 Large yellow squash

1 cup Quinoa

2 cups Water

1 TBS Extra virgin olive oil

1 cup Black beans, drained

1 cup Corn, Cooked, charred and cut off the cob

1/2 Red onion, small dice

1 Jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, small dice

1/2 Green bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, small dice

1 clove Garlic, crushed

1 TBS Cumin

1 tsp Chile powder

1 tsp Granulated garlic

1/3 cup Grated parmesan

Sea salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut yellow squash in half length-wise, then use a teaspoon to remove the seeds and hollow out, leaving about 1/2 inch wall on all sides and bottom. Place squash in boiling water and cook 5 minutes, then remove with tongs, dump water, fill pot with cold water and return squash to the water to halt the cooking process. Remove from the water and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, bring two cups of water to a boil in a sauce pan. Stir in quinoa, cover, return to boil, reduce to simmer and cook 18 minutes. Turn off flame and let sit for 15 minutes, then fluff with fork.

3. Put cast iron pan on the fire over a medium heat. When hot, add EVOO. When smoking, add onions, jalapeno and green pepper and saute until onion is translucent, about five minutes. Add garlic, cumin, chile powder and granulated garlic and cook another minute then remove from heat.

4. Preheat oven to 375F. Fold sauteed vegetables, black beans, corn and about half the parmesan into the quinoa. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place half the quinoa mixture on the bottom of an 8″x8″x2″ casserole dish, then place yellow squash canoes on top. Use a tablespoon to stuff the squash with the remaining quinoa mixture. Sprinkle the top with the remaining parmesan and cover tightly with aluminum foil.

5. Bake at 375F for 25 minutes, remove foil and bake another 10 minutes to brown up the parmesan.

Quinoa is a very versatile grain. It actually is considered a pseudocereal because it is not a member of the grass family, but instead it is related to beets, spinach and tumbleweeds.

It has a mildly sweet and nutty flavor and a soft texture that reminds me of couscous. Look for it in either the baking supplies or dried beans aisles of your grocery store.

8 thoughts on “Meat Free Mondays – Quinoa

  1. I love quinoa. And I love your Meat Free Monday posts. Have you joined Recipage yet? If not, I encourage you to check it out as it will make hungry people- like me- be able to navigate all of your recipes in one place!

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