Thursday, August 11, 2016

Some Quick Organic Quinoa

I want to substitute quinoa for the French fries that have somehow become my standard side dish over the summer. Yes, I said French fries! See, it starts slowly – Too hot to stand in front of the stove? Just bake some French fries in the toaster oven. Grilling outside and don't want to walk in and out checking on food? Bake some French fries. Call it convenience or laziness, you get used to it and before you know it, you are serving French fries with veal because “it goes” and it only takes 20 minutes. 

To break this habit, I picked up a bag of Organic Quinoa from Costco recently and have resolved to use it instead of having it sit in the pantry until it expires. It is said that white quinoa (which this one is) has a mild nutty taste; whereas red quinoa has a stronger nutty taste. From what I can remember, I noticed a slight difference, but not enough for me to declare either one tastier over the other. Then again, I am not a quinoa connoisseur. 

Way healthier than French fries, quinoa contains nutrients such as protein, zinc and folate and it’s known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Like my husband, you might find that you don’t care for the texture, so maybe try a small bag from your supermarket first to see if you like it instead of the warehouse size. Also, try to experiment with your cooking liquid and spices. For example, try cooking it in just water first, then add a little broth the next time, then add some spices – add a bay leaf at the beginning of cooking for more flavor. 

I have incorporated arugula (rocket) into this meal since it was on sale at my local market. They say we should eat at least one green leafy vegetable a week to stay healthy. And arugula is a good source of vitamin C and potassium. Arugula is a peppery-tasting salad green that gets milder when cooked. So if you have had it raw in a salad and didn’t care for it, cooking it might be the way to go. I really, really like it sautéed with cherry tomatoes. In this recipe, we are sautéing it in olive oil and adding lemon to it at the table to keep it simple. 

We needed a protein to go with our healthy side dish and have chosen the versatile grilled chicken cutlet. We grilled the cutlets outside, but you can also cook them on the stovetop using my old recipe here: Niki's Simple Lemon Chicken Cutlets or buy pre-cooked at your local supermarket or deli. It's also delicious with grilled shrimp! I didn't include a recipe but can write one up if you want. Let me know! 

This meal is so quick and easy, there’s nothing to it. Quinoa is perfect for a weekday when you get home late from work or school. And it is healthier than French fries ;-). Let me know if you like it! 

Organic Quinoa with Arugula

  • 1 cup quinoa (yields 3 cups cooked)
  • 2 cups water or broth (I used 2 cups water and 1//2 tsp Better Than Bouillon)
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 bunch arugula
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste


Wash the quinoa in a wire strainer. I like to rinse all my rice and grains to get rid of little stones and debris, but quinoa needs rinsing to wash away a soapy taste. This particular brand of quinoa was pre-rinsed, but I like to rinse anyway. 

Add the quinoa to a saucepan and add water or broth, salt and pepper. 

Let the quinoa get to a rolling boil, then turn down heat to a simmer and partially cover. 
Let it simmer for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, wash the arugula by swishing in a bowl of water and emptying and filling the bowl multiple times to get rid of any sand. If the arugula came in a bunch, you can cut across the stems near the root while it’s still held with a rubber band.

Add olive oil to your sauté pan or frying pan and let it heat up a bit but not to smoking.
Add the arugula, salt and pepper and move it around with tongs while it wilts.
Remove from heat once it wilts in a few minutes.
Turn off your quinoa and cover the lid to let it fluff.

Serve with 1 lb grilled chicken cutlets or grilled shrimp (add oregano for some Greek flavor!) Enjoy! Kali Orexi!

Prep time: 5 min Cook time: 15 min Total time: 20 min Yield: 2 servings