6 Healthy Ways You’ve Never Thought of Making Quinoa


We’re all in agreement that quinoa is awesome. It’s a nutrient-dense superfood packed with plant-based protein, amino acids, vitamins—you get the picture.

quinoa_cookbookBut, after eating your millionth simple quinoa salad, a little healthy ingredient fatigue is totally normal.

Enter The Quinoa [Keen-Wah] Cookbook, by International Culinary Center-trained food stylist and writer Maria del Mar Sacasa, who can make you view the high-protein, healthy grain in a new way.

“The recipes in my book are well-rounded and flavorful,” says del Mar Sacasa. And they're creative, smart, and interesting. Think: Chinese Takeout-style Fried Quinoa and Eggy Quinoa Pizza. "You’ll like what you eat,” she says, and not just cook up quinoa with steamed kale (yet again) because it's healthy and easy.

Here are six ultra-flavorful recipes from the book to prove it. —Victoria Lewis

(Photo: The Quinoa [Keen-Wah] Cookbook)


quinoa_greek_salad1. Charred Romaine Greek Salad with Quinoa-crusted Feta 

Yields 4 to 6 servings. Vinaigrette yields 1 cup.

For the vinaigrette
½ cup Kalamata olives, finely chopped
½ cup parsley, dill, and mint, chopped
¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
¼ cup red wine vinegar
6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

For the feta
¼ cup quinoa flour
1 large egg white
1 cup quinoa (cooked)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
8 ounces feta cheese, drained and cut into ¾-inch slices
Vegetable oil for frying

For the salad
4 heads romaine lettuce, washed and dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups skillet-toasted quinoa (cooked quinoa, toasted 15 minutes over medium-high heat in a dry skillet)
2 pints roasted cherry tomatoes
1 English cucumber, scrubbed, ends trimmed, and cut into half-inch moons
Lemon wedges

For the vinaigrette
1. In a medium bowl, stir together the olives, herbs, onion, vinegar, and oil. Set aside.

For the feta
2. Spread the quinoa flour out on a large plate. Beat the egg white in a small bowl. Combine the quinoa with the oregano and red pepper flakes and spread it out on a second large plate. Coat each slice of feta with quinoa flour, dip it in the egg white, and then coat it in the quinoa mixture, pressing down to adhere.

Add enough oil to a large skillet to reach ½ inch up the sides of the skillet. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook the feta until the quinoa is crisp and the cheese looks melted, about 2 minutes per side. With tongs or a spatula, carefully transfer the feta onto a cutting board. Cut each slice crosswise into roughly 1-inch pieces.

For the salad
3. Adjust an oven rack to the uppermost position and set the broiler to high (don’t adjust the rack if you have a broiler drawer). Remove and discard any of the lettuce’s outermost leaves that are damaged. Cut each head in half lengthwise. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil. Arrange the lettuce halves, cut side up, on the baking sheets. Season them with salt and pepper and drizzle them with olive oil. Turn them cut side down.

4. Broil one of the baking sheets of lettuce until it begins to char, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove it from the oven, turn the lettuce halves cut side up, and broil until charred, 1 to 3 minutes longer. Set the baking sheet on a cooling rack and repeat with the second tray.

5. Divide the lettuce among 8 plates. Top each lettuce half with a ¼ cup of quinoa, roasted tomatoes, and cucumber slices. Stir the vinaigrette to recombine it and spoon some over each salad. Top with the feta and serve with pepperoncini and lemon wedges.

(Photo: The Quinoa [Keen-Wah] Cookbook)


quinoa_chimichurri_salad2. Steak, Quinoa, and Chimichurri Salad

Yields 4 to 6 servings. Chimichurri yields 1½ cups.

For the chimichurri
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
½ cup cilantro, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh oregano, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
¾ cup red wine vinegar
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. red pepper flakes

For the salad
2 pounds flank steak
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3 cups greens, such as arugula, baby kale, or mizuna
3 cups skillet-toasted quinoa (cooked quinoa, toasted 15 minutes over medium-high heat in a dry skillet)
1 cup cooked chickpeas or canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Juice of 1 lemon

For the chimichurri
1. Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

For the salad
2. Pat the steak dry with paper towels and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke. Cook the steak until browned and crusty on both sides, 5 to 7 minutes per side for medium-rare, about 130–140°F on an instant-read thermometer. Cook longer if desired (medium 140–150°F, medium-well 150–155°F, well done 160°F). You can also grill the steak.

3. Transfer the steak to a cutting board (preferably one with a channel to catch the juices) and allow to rest 10 minutes.

4. While the steak rests, toss the greens, quinoa, and chickpeas together in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

5. Slice the steak with a sharp knife against the grain.

6. Divide the salad among plates and top with steak slices and chimichurri.

(Photo: The Quinoa [Keen-Wah] Cookbook)


quinoa burger
Photo: The Quinoa [Keen-Wah] Cookbook
3. Quinoa, Sweet Potato, and Walnut Veggie Burgers

Yields 4 patties,  6 ounces each.

14 ounces sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more as needed
8 ounces cremini or shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, tops cleaned and coarsely chopped
½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 large shallots, finely chopped
2 tsp. soy sauce, plus more to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. sherry vinegar, plus more to taste
1 cup cooked quinoa
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup cilantro and flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1. Place the sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan. Cover with cold water. Add the salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, weigh out 10 ounces (about 1 cup) and reserve.

2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the mushrooms, walnuts, shallots, and soy sauce and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are golden brown and the shallots are softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and sherry vinegar and cook 1 more minute. Stir in the quinoa. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning with soy sauce, vinegar, and pepper.

3. Place the cooked sweet potatoes in a large bowl and mash them with a fork. Stir in the mushroom mixture, cilantro, and parsley.

4. Divide the mixture into 4 portions and shape them into 5-inch patties.

5. Wipe out the skillet and coat it lightly with oil. Heat the skillet over medium high heat until the oil is shimmering. Cook the patties until deep golden brown on both sides, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Serve with your favorite condiments.

(Photo: The Quinoa [Keen-Wah] Cookbook)


quinoa_eggy_pizza4. Eggy Quinoa Pizza

1 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups cooked quinoa
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
6 large eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pints roasted cherry tomatoes
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into batons
½ cup fresh basil

1. Adjust an oven rack to the upper third of the oven and preheat it to 450°F/230°C.

2. Heat the oil in a medium ovenproof skillet until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the quinoa and Parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Then, with a rubber spatula, flatten out the quinoa. Reduce the heat to medium and cook about 10 minutes without stirring to allow the quinoa base to crisp.

3. While the quinoa cooks, season the eggs with salt and pepper and whisk them in a large bowl. Pour the eggs over the quinoa and dollop the roasted tomatoes evenly over the eggs. Arrange the cheese in a circular pattern over the eggs.

4. Bake until puffed and set, about 10 minutes. Turn the broiler on and broil until the frittata is puffed and golden and the cheese has begun to char, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving. Top with basil.

(Photo: The Quinoa [Keen-Wah] Cookbook)


quinoa_beet_salad_small5. Quinoa Salad with Beets, Blue Cheese, and Nutty Herb Vinaigrette 

(Yields 4 servings. Vinaigrette yields ¾ cup.)

For the vinaigrette
1 garlic clove
1⁄3 cup walnuts, toasted
1 cup watercress with stems
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad
3 cups skillet-toasted quinoa (cooked quinoa, toasted 15 minutes over medium-high heat in a dry skillet)
8 ounces cooked red or golden beets, cut into slices or wedges
2 ounces Stilton cheese, crumbled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the vinaigrette
1. Finely chop the garlic. Add the walnuts to the cutting board on top of the garlic and chop them finely. Transfer the garlic-walnut mixture to a medium bowl. Finely chop the watercress and add it to the bowl. Add the vinegar, mustard, and orange zest and whisk to combine. While whisking, drizzle in the olive oil. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

For the salad
2. Divide the quinoa evenly among 4 plates. Top each quinoa mound with an equal amount of beets. Sprinkle the beets with cheese, whisk the dressing to recombine, and dress each salad with 2 to 3 tablespoons of vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

(Photo: The Quinoa [Keen-Wah] Cookbook)


quinoa_chinese_takeout6. Chinese Takeout-style Fried Quinoa

Yields about 6 cups.

1 Tbsp. salt
1 bunch Chinese broccoli, ends trimmed
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp. soy sauce, plus more to taste
1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. vegetable oil
6 ounces ham chops or ham steak, cut into half-inch cubes
1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed
6 scallions, ends trimmed, white and pale green parts chopped and greens thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. teriyaki sauce, plus more to taste
1 Tbsp. water
4 cups skillet-toasted quinoa (cooked quinoa, toasted 15 minutes over medium-high heat in a dry skillet)
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
3 Tbsp. toasted white or black sesame seeds

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Set up a colander in the sink and a bowl of ice water alongside it. When the water comes to a boil, add 1 tablespoon salt and the Chinese broccoli and cook just until it turns bright green, 1 minute. Drain the Chinese broccoli and drop it into the prepared ice bath. Allow to soak until completely cooled, then drain in the colander. Coarsely chop the Chinese broccoli.

2. Beat together the eggs and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Heat 2 teaspoons oil over high heat in a large nonstick skillet until beginning to shimmer. Add the eggs and quickly scramble with a rubber spatula. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm.

3. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the same skillet and heat over high heat until beginning to smoke. Add the ham and cook until browned, about 2 minutes. Add the Chinese broccoli and peas and carrots and cook, stirring and/or shaking the pan to toss the ingredients, about 3 minutes. Add the scallion, white and pale green parts, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, teriyaki sauce, remaining 2 teaspoons soy sauce, water, and quinoa and stir to combine.

4. Remove from the heat, chop the eggs with a spatula, and stir into the fried quinoa mixture. Stir in the sesame oil. Season to taste with additional teriyaki and soy sauce. Garnish with the scallion greens and sesame seeds.

(Photo: The Quinoa [Keen-Wah] Cookbook)


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