Quinoa: Today’s Prom Queen of Grains


You and I both know that you need more Quinoa in your diet, so this post is to save you a couple of steps from having to sift through some really bad Quinoa recipes.

I’m not Pro-Quinoa or Anti-Quinoa, but I insist on edible Quinoa.  Quinoa cannot hang naked liked basmati rice can.  Quinoa requires company, and while a Greek style Quinoa with cucumbers and such is lovely, it feels a bit overdone.  Nobody, under any circumstance, should have Quinoa for breakfast.  There must be healthy Quinoa Limits.

Here’s the newest Quinoa recipe in my rotation (because we all have one, or our Mothers have given us one.) It’s from the cookbook “Ancient Grains.”  This recipe requires that you like beets.  If you don’t like beets, you can stop right here.  This recipe won’t change your mind about beets.  If you think the only way you can eat beets is roasted, read on my friend … 

I like this quinoa recipe because it’s fast, but flavorful and the only chopping involved is the beets.  And, if you use your mandolin to shred your beets (which you very much should do), there will be zero chopping.  This recipe’s secret ingredients are cumin seeds and sumac (a dark red powder made from crushed dried berries that has a tart/lemony taste), both of which infuse what could be an ordinary salad into something which raises the bar well above “edible.”  If truth be told, I’m kind of in love with sumac right now.   

Cumin-Scented Quinoa with Red Beets

Heat 1 TBSP olive olive in medium saucepan over medium heat.  Let it get hot then add 1 tsp whole cumin seeds until they darken and become fragrant, about 30 seconds.  (You must use whole cumin seeds, cumin powder will not work as well.)  Add 1 cup quinoa that has been well rinsed and drain, cook for about 1 minute.  Add 1 ¾ cup water (yeah, no stock!), ¾ tsp fine salt and ½ tsp sumac.  (Don’t skip the sumac as it adds a lot of flavor.)  Bring to boil, then decrease temp to simmer, cover and cook until liquid is absorbed, 15 -20 minutes.

Shred 1  ¼ cup raw red beet (about 1 medium sized beet, rinsed and peeled.)  Please use your mandolin for this job.  It will make you feel better about the $100 you spent on it, and the uniformity of the beets will say “I care about this quinoa salad.”  Remove saucepan from heat, stir in the shredded beet (natural food coloring fun!), cover and steam for 3-5 minutes.  Stir in another ½ tsp sumac, 1 TBSP lemon juice, and a pinch or two of cayenne.   

There is this whole business about a Sumac Yogurt topping (basically just yogurt, some minced garlic, and more sumac) in the recipe, but it seems a whole lot easier to just add some goat cheese to it once it cools. I didn’t have any goat cheese today, but you can imagine it eh?

If Quinoa is Today's Prom Queen of Grains, who is Prom King of Grains?  I'm putting my money down on Steel-Cut Oats.