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Saturday, January 12, 2013


The first time I had it was at the Pacific Grill, which is probably one of the nicest and most ICA-like restaurants I'd ever been to. The item isn't on their menu right now because they change it seasonally and it's been a while since I was last there. It was the red stuff and it looked so alien on Justin's plate. I tried it, and well... it was disgusting. I had no idea what they'd done with it but the texture threw me off and it was just gross.
But an email I received at work convinced me to try quinoa again. Apparently it's known as the "super grain" even though it's not a grain - it's a seed. But it's one of the few non-animal foods found in nature that is a complete protein all by itself. What is a complete protein and why the hell is it so important? Call me an Alton Brown freak, but I think he explains it best. Watch it beginning at 10:00. Yes, this episode is about lentils, but the concept is the same.

Anyway, I'm getting WAY off track here. So, I decided to try quinoa again, but this time on my terms. I searched through the website and found a very simple recipe by Giada.

Hold on a minute. Are you telling me that you didn't get the recipe from Alton Brown?! Blasphemy! You say.
Actually, I would have had he made a episode on quinoa, but he hasn't, so there! :P

2 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the quinoa: [Added by Amy: RINSE OFF THE QUINOA THOROUGHLY FIRST. It gets rid of a nasty coating that makes the quinoa taste bitter] In a medium saucepan, add the chicken stock, lemon juice and quinoa. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 12 to 15 minutes.

For the dressing: In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, basil, parsley, thyme, and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour the dressing over the quinoa and toss until all the ingredients are coated. Transfer the quinoa to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

I chose her recipe for two reasons: it had very few ingredients. I'm on a tight budget right now and I needed something inexpensive; and I had most of these ingredients anyway. And the other reason was that it was simple. Basically nothing else but quinoa, and that was the point. I wanted to try quinoa, not a bunch of crap in quinoa.

And I have to tell you, it's pretty damn delicious. It's got an odd, yet pleasing flavor, and the texture is kind of like rice and pasta mixed together. It also seems to soak up the flavor of the chicken stock a lot more readily than my rice ever did. I had cooked my rice in straight up stock right off of a chicken, and I couldn't even freaking tell. But with the quinoa, you definitely could. And I'd used store-bought stock. This is a quick and easy side dish (especially considering I used dried thyme and dried parsley), that also happens to be really good for you. Give it a try!


  1. It's kind of like you're a mind reader Amy! Last night I watched this terrible documentary called "Vegucated". It ruined my life, and I have now chosen to go vegan. So I've been looking at quinoa as a protein replacement. It sounds great! I'll just swap in vegetable stock for the chicken stock, and voila! Can't wait to try it.

    1. As it says in Alton's episode, lentils and soybeans also come close to being complete proteins. Also, red beans and rice make a complete protein too. You can try watching Creole in a Bowl, although the episode adds pork to the recipe. But you can just go with the beans and rice. Good luck with that vegan thing!! Chicken broth shouldn't be so bad, though. You could even make the broth with bullion cubes.

  2. Well, a vegan doesn't consume any animal products at all. No dairy, no eggs, no nothin'. And mmm, I love beans and rice.