At least once a month, I hear someone say that they’ve tried quinoa, but really don’t enjoy the taste. As a long-time devotee, I inevitably launch into an impromptu Q&A session which, if I play it right, convinces the unsuspecting quinoa dissenter to give the grain another shot. If I proclaim my love for quinoa too vehemently, my victim’s eyes start darting around, looking for a means of escape. It’s a fine balance.
There are a few secrets that quinoa lovers hold close, ready to let loose on the next person who dares to proclaim their dislike for the ancient grain. They are secrets that can turn quinoa from a slightly bitter and gland grain to a background for a variety of ingredients and flavors.
Tips for making quinoa taste great:
1) Rinse the quinoa: Quinoa has a natural saponin coating which can be slightly better. However, this coating can be dissolved by rinsing the quinoa first. Pour the quinoa into a fine-mesh sieve, rinse and drain. Now it’s ready to cook!
2) Cooking with broth: This step is optional, and not something I do often, but many people swear by cooking their quinoa in vegetable or chicken broth, or a combination of broth and water. If sodium content is a concern, then either cook the quinoa in water or use a low-sodium broth.
3) Liven things up: Quinoa pairs really well with a number of flavors and textures. Mix things up by mixing in a variety of vegetables, fresh herbs, cheeses and toasted nuts.
4) Get saucy: Toss the quinoa with a light vinaigrette (such as the lemon version in this recipe) or sauce to add flavor.
If you don’t always have 20 minutes to wait before serving dinner or lunch, then make a large batch of quinoa and freeze it to have on hand for quick meals.
This quinoa recipe is filled with the flavors of spring and summer, such as artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, a light lemon vinaigrette and fresh basil. This just may make you fall in love with quinoa!
Other quinoa recipes:
Cookin’ Canuck’s Salad Cups with Quinoa, Shrimp, Avocado & Lemon Dressing
Cookin’ Canuck’s Quinoa Greek Salad with Tomato, Cucumber & Feta
Foodidies’ Quinoa Tomato Baked Eggs
At the Corner of Happy & Harried’s Quinoa, Tofu & Vegetable Stir-Fry
The Wimpy Vegetarian’s Lemony Swiss Chard & Quinoa Saute with Fried Capers & Olives
If you make this recipe, I’d love to see it on Instagram! Just use the hashtag #COOKINCANUCK and I’ll be sure to find it.
Lemon Quinoa with Artichokes, Roasted Peppers & Basil
Mix up the flavors of spring in this healthy quinoa salad, packed with artichokes, roasted peppers and basil.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup quartered artichoke hearts
- 1 roasted red pepper (2 halves), cut into strips (see How to Roast a Bell Pepper)
- 6 basil leaves, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp agave nectar or honey
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp ground pepper
- In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa and water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook until all of the water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
- Transfer the cooked quinoa to a large baking sheet and spread it out evenly. Let the quinoa cool to room temperature.
- To the quinoa, add the artichoke hearts, roasted peppers and basil.
- Pour the dressing over the quinoa salad and stir to combine. Serve or refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, agave nectar, salt and pepper.
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