You heard the buzz (Everybody's talking about quinoa!) and succumbed to the lure of its popularity (Everybody's eating quinoa!), so you bought some quinoa. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a delicately flavored grain and one of the only plant foods that is a complete protein, meaning it has balanced quantities of 9 essential amino acids. Both white and red quinoa are available in most natural-foods stores and the natural-foods sections of many supermarkets. Toasting the grain before cooking enhances its flavor and rinsing removes any residue of saponin, quinoa's natural, bitter protective covering.
Learn All About It: How to Cook Quinoa
So now that you have the hot grain-of-the-moment in your very own kitchen-you need to know what to do with it. I think you should make an amazing casserole with it. Here's a new recipe, from the September/October issue of EatingWell, for a vegetarian quinoa casserole topped with pureed squash that you're going to love. You make it all in one skillet, the quinoa doesn't require any precooking and the whole thing takes just 30 minutes to put together. And you can make it up to two days ahead of time, so it's really convenient.
Vegetarian Quinoa & Squash Casserole
Makes: 6 servings, about 1 2/3 cups each
Active time: 30 minutes | Total: 1 hour 20 minutes
To make ahead: Prepare through Step 2, transfer to a 3-quart baking dish; top with squash mixture (Step 3), cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Let stand at room temperature while oven preheats. Bake, covered, until bubbling at the edges and heated through, about 45 minutes.
Cost per serving: under $4.50
An aromatic mixture of garlic, paprika, cumin, coriander, allspice and cayenne flavors this vegetarian quinoa and squash casserole recipe. Frozen squash is a super-easy topping.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon paprika
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cups frozen chopped spinach
1 cup quinoa or whole-wheat couscous
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
2 10- to 12-ounce boxes frozen pureed squash, thawed
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned, 9 to 11 minutes. Add garlic, paprika, 2 teaspoons cumin, coriander, cayenne and allspice and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in chickpeas, tomatoes, spinach, quinoa (or couscous), raisins, water and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. If thawed squash is watery, place in a fine-mesh sieve and gently press to extract excess liquid. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon cumin and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread the squash evenly over the chickpea mixture.
4. Cover the pan and bake until steaming hot, about 45 minutes for quinoa (15 minutes for couscous). Let cool for 5 minutes. Serve sprinkled with cilantro.
Per serving: 438 calories; 11 g fat (1 g sat, 6 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 76 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 15 g protein; 14 g fiber; 741 mg sodium; 1,088 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin A (204% daily value), Folate (57% dv), Magnesium & Vitamin C (40% dv), Iron (39% dv).
What's your favorite dish to make with quinoa?
By Wendy Ruopp
Wendy Ruopp has been the managing editor of EatingWell for most of her adult life. Although she writes about food for the Weeknights column of EatingWell Magazine, her husband does the cooking at home.
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