Farmer’s Market Quinoa

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Spring finally feels like it is here (or maybe summer…it’s in the mid 80’s in Georgia today!) and farmer’s markets are a bustling place on Saturday mornings! If you are in need of a healthy side dish or need to clean out your fridge of a random assortment of vegetables from your last trip, you must try this recipe!

There are so many things I adore about this dish:

#1. I love quinoa (and shared some of the health benefits associated with it in this post.)

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#2. It is BEAUTIFUL! Look how colorful and bright the red of the tomatoes is when paired against the vibrant yellow corn and deep green spinach! You just know it is going to taste delicious.

#3. The homemade “dressing” is actually oil-free. The lemon juice and zest make the quinoa tangy and delicious.

#4. You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand…thus the title of the recipe! Extra zucchini, squash, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, etc., are all welcome to this skillet quinoa. Herbs too. Fresh basil, oregano, parsley…or dried. Whatever. The quinoa provides a blank canvas for you to be as creative as you would like to be!

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While I do not think this dish is complicated or labor-intensive, keep in mind it will take at least 25 minutes to make because the quinoa requires 20. Once the veggies are sauteed and the quinoa is cooked, combine them in a giant skillet with the dressing and serve.

This can easily be a main dish for vegetarians (use vegetable broth or water instead of chicken broth), and even vegan by using agave nectar instead of honey and omitting the feta cheese. As a side dish this serves about 7 people, so it is perfect for a large family or if you would like to have leftovers throughout the week!

Farmer’s Market Quinoa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 3/4 cup low-sodium fat free chicken broth (or vegetable broth, or water)
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach (or zucchini, etc.)
  • 2 ears or about 1 1/2 cups sweet corn (if using canned, rinse and drain first)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat crumbled feta
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tablespoon dried)

For the Honey Lemon Vinaigrette:

  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced or microplaned
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

1). In a medium sauce pan, bring chicken broth to a boil. Add quinoa, cover, and reduce heat to low. Let simmer for about 20 minutes or until broth is absorbed.

2) For the vinaigrette: whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.

3). In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sautee for about 30 seconds. Add corn, green onions, fresh spinach and season with salt and pepper. Sautee until barely tender, about 4 minutes. Add cooked quinoa and half the honey lemon vinaigrette. Stir and cook for about 1 more minute.*

4) Add remaining vinaigrette, tomatoes, feta cheese, and basil to the skillet. Mix well and taste for seasoning preferences. Enjoy!

*If you want to make this a cold salad, cool cooked quinoa and veggies separately, then mix with the remaining vinaigrette, tomatoes, feta cheese, and basil, and chill completely.

 

Serves: about 7 as a side dish. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 184. Fat: 5g Carbs: 28g Protein: 6g Sodium: 160 mg

Recipe adapted from: http://iowagirleats.com/2012/05/14/farmers-market-recipe-collection-farmers-market-skillet/ 

 

Quinoa “Risotto” – Done in 2 steps!

The first time I ever had risotto I was sitting outside the Palacio Real in Madrid with my mom. I was studying abroad in Spain and we spent some time in Madrid together before I headed to Seville for the semester. Anyway, after a long morning of touristy adventures, we decided to stop and enjoy the beautiful afternoon dining at a fine restaurant across the street from the Palacio.

Dining outside in Madrid!

Dining outside in Madrid!

This was our view. Gorgeous.

After perusing the menu, I ordered the mushroom parmesan risotto.

It. was. delicious.

The most incredible risotto of all time.

The most incredible risotto of all time.

In fact, it may be the most delicious thing I have ever eaten. Even though that was 4 years ago, I can still almost taste it now. Isn’t it amazing how food can be so memorable? Or is that just me?

That may also be the first time I was ever inspired to take a picture of my food. I just can’t begin to tell you how amazing it was!

Anyway, I have not yet tried to recreate that exact dish for fear nothing will ever come close. I also try to not go crazy eating large amounts of white rice. There just isn’t a lot there nutritionally.

Enter: QUINOA!
(Pronounced KEEN-WAH)

You can buy quinoa in bulk for a great price at Costco!

You can buy quinoa in bulk for a great price at Costco!

Quinoa has AMAZING health benefits. It is an ancient seed originating from Bolivia, and in the last few years there it has exploded in popularity across the nation.

One of the biggest appeals of quinoa is that it is GLUTEN FREE! I know many people who have gluten allergies, and if you do, quinoa is a perfect replacement for pasta. I am not gluten intolerant, but I choose to eat it because it is sooooo much better for you than flour-laden pasta/couscous. It also cooks in about 15 minutes, making it a convenient option even on a weeknight.

Here are a couple important nutrition facts about quinoa:

  • It is a complete protein, containing all 9 amino acids! (This makes it one of the most protein-rich foods you can eat!)
  • It is high in fiber, iron, magnesium, B vitamins, and antioxidants.
  • Depending on the brand you use, there are only 130-155 calories in a cup of cooked quinoa!

If you’ve never tried quinoa, I think this is the perfect recipe to use to give it a try. The quinoa absorbs the sauce much like rice does in a risotto. This recipe is much easier than traditional risotto because you do not have to stand over the pot  adding broth, stirring constantly. Once you’ve cooked your quinoa, all you have to do is heat the broth/marinara sauce, and mix in the quinoa and cheese. Easier and better for you!? I am a fan!

Healthy Quinoa Risotto!

Healthy Quinoa Risotto!

And, so is my husband! He usually doesn’t love quinoa recipes as much as I do, but he loved this one! So, if you’ve been trying to acquire a taste for quinoa, give this recipe a try. It just might surprise you!!

Quinoa “Risotto” – 2 steps!

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cooked quinoa (according to package directions)
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth (or veggie if you’re not a meat eater!)
  • 1/4 cup pecorino romano, grated
  • 1 cup of your favorite marinara sauce

1) Heat sauce and chicken stock in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.

2) Combine with cooked quinoa and cheese. Mix well. Top with extra cheese if desired.

Servings: Four big 1 cup servings or eight 1/2 cup servings.
Approximate Nutritional Information per 1 cup serving: Calories: 221 Carbs: 41g Fat: 8g Protein: 18 g Sugar: 6g
Recipe adapted from skinnytaste.com

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I served this quinoa risotto as a side to roasted broccoli and pan-seared chicken breast. So filling and delicious! This “risotto” goes well as a side to any meal with Italian flavors.