Monday, March 21, 2011

Mediterranean Red Quinoa

Although white quinoa (pronounced keen-nwa) may look like couscous, it's actually a grain (or a pseudocereal if you want to get technical). Quinoa has become popular in the US during the last few years but it's actually been around for a long time, and for good reasons. Pre-Columbian civilizations heavily relied on the nutritional punch this little grain packs. It's composed of 12-18 % complete protein, which means its amino acids don't need to be combined with others to form the type of protein humans need. And it's not just foodies that are consuming it these days. According to this NYTimes article, NASA considers it an ideal food for long space missions. Not only is it a nutritional powerhouse, but it's a great blank canvas for all sorts of dishes.

You can use quinoa most anywhere you would normally use couscous if you have a few extra minutes to spare, because it does take longer to cook. To bring quinoa's nutty flavor, toasting it or roasting before you cook it will do the trick. That's actually what I did to prepare this simple Mediterranean Red Quinoa. The artichokes make it tangy, the thyme supplies some lemony flavor and the smooth chickpeas add extra protein. If you haven't cooked quinoa yet, this just might be a great way to start.

Mediterranean Red Quinoa
Makes about 3 servings
  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 14 oz / 395 g can artichokes, drained and quartered
  • 1 15 oz / 425 g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
1.  Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Toss in the bell pepper and the garlic and cook until the pepper has softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the celery and cook for another 4 minutes, or until it's tender.
2.  Add the quinoa, toasting it for about 5 minutes. Add the thyme and cook for about one minute or until fragrant. Pour in the broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 15 minutes.
3. Toss in the chickpeas and the artichokes. Cook for another 10 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Serve hot.


  1. This recipe looks delicious. I will try it as soon as I can get quinoa.It is also a good idea to write and inform the readers about the nutritional facts of this ancient and healthy grain. Well done Sara.

  2. Glad you liked it! Te tomo la palabra. Try it and take a picture of the finished dish to prove you actually did it, Papa. Even better, take a picture while making it wearing one of those styling aprons you guys have.