To know me is to know that I love quinoa. This little seed masquerades as a grain, which means you get a complete, lean, vegetarian protein that you can make the star of a meal or serve as a side dish.
Parenting tip: If your kids don’t warm up to quinoa’s nutty flavour and texture right away, start by introducing them to brown rice, then whole-wheat couscous and then try quinoa again. My kids love to top quinoa with marinara sauce and Parmesan cheese to shake things up on “spaghetti” night.
You can cook quinoa on the stovetop or in a rice cooker, but nothing beats the microwave for convenience. For every cup of dry quinoa (a brief rinse will remove any bitterness), add 1 1/4 cups of water and cook, covered, for approximately 12 minutes on high. I like to cook up a big batch of quinoa once and keep it in the refrigerator for recipes all week.
Need ideas? Toss it with chopped fresh herbs, shallot, cucumber, lemon juice and olive oil for a refreshing tabbouleh; saute with sweet peppers and onion, chicken or shrimp, soy chorizo and a dash of saffron for the world’s easiest take on paella; or grill up fish and veggies at your next barbecue and serve them on a large platter lined with herbed quinoa and drizzled with a mustardy vinaigrette.
Quinoa also can be used as a nutrition-boosting accessory. Toss a few spoons of cooked quinoa into your smoothie, pancake or waffle recipes, oatmeal or even omelets. And I almost can’t think of a salad that wouldn’t benefit from a sprinkling of quinoa! In this week’s recipe, quinoa shares the spotlight with another healthy choice — broccoli. It’s picnic perfect.
HEARTY QUINOA AND BROCCOLI SLAW
Start to Finish: 20 minutes
For the dressing:
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar
1 to 2 tablespoons orange juice (reserved from cutting the oranges)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
For the slaw:
1 small head broccoli, chopped into very small florets (about 3 cups)
1 Italian turkey sausage, casing removed, cooked, cooled and crumbled (about 1/4 cup crumbles)
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
2 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds
1 orange, skin trimmed and cut into segments (cut over a bowl to reserve juice)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
To make the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together all ingredients. Set aside.
To prepare the slaw, in a large bowl, combine the broccoli, sausage, quinoa and scallions. Pour the dressing over the slaw and toss well to coat. Add the chopped almonds and orange segments, then gently toss. Season with salt and pepper, then let stand for 15 minutes (refrigerated, if desired) to allow flavours to meld.
Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook, “Supermarket Healthy.” www.melissadarabian.net