How to Cook Quinoa + An Easy, Awesome Quinoa Creation!

Tastier than a seed of millet! 
More protein-packed than a grain of wheat! 
Able to provide eight amino acids in a single bite! 

Look! There on the screen!

It’s a seed! It’s a grain! It’s quinoa!

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On the surface, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), may seem rather unremarkable. But in true superhero fashion, these South American seeds are anything but ordinary. 

Not only do they pack a powerful punch of protein and fiber and come with a trusty team of essential vitamins and minerals (The Incredible Iron! B1-2-and-6-man!), they’re also one of the few plant-based complete proteins. For anyone watching their intake of animal products, that last point alone makes quinoa worthy of superhero status. 

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But quinoa is more than just a healthy face: it is white-rice-easy to prepare and its mildly-nutty flavour and fluffy texture make it an A+ alternative to its key culinary competitors, rice and couscous. And it’s got that fun, Frankensteinian factor: through the simple additions of water, heat and time, plain-Jane little seeds grow three times their size to become glowing curlicues. Yeah, no big deal. 

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So to help you harness the power of these super-seeds, I’m passing along basic quinoa cooking instructions as well as a full recipe for one of my favourite ways to serve quinoa - a warm, sweet-and-savoury quinoa so-much-more-than-a-salad salad. I’ve also included at the end of the post a few  additional suggestions for cool quinoa-based creations.

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The fate of dinner is now in your capable hands! 
 
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How to Cook Quinoa
Makes ~1.5 cups of cooked quinoa

Ingredients*
1/2 cup dry quinoa
1 cup water

Directions
Rinse and drain quinoa and add to a medium-sized pot with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for five minutes. Remove lid, fluff with a fork, and you’re ready to go! 

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*Want to make a different amount? Easy! Just follow a ratio of 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water (or broth, if you’re feeling flavourful), keeping in mind that 1 measure of dried quinoa will produce roughly 3 measures of cooked quinoa.
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Quinoa Salad with Cider Vinaigrette
Salad inspired by Culina; Vinaigrette adapted from Bon Appétit
Makes ~5 cups (enough for 4 for lunch)

Ingredients*
½ cup light olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp minced shallots
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp honey

4 cups of any darker lettuce, cut/torn into bite-sized bits (I used red leaf lettuce)
1½ cups cooked quinoa, still warm
1½ cups cooked chickpeas**
¾ cup feta cheese, crumbled (I like creamy sheep feta here)
⅓ cup dried cherries
⅓ cup slivered almonds, toasted

Directions
To make vinaigrette, combine first five ingredients in a lidded jar, screw on lid and shake jar vigorously until ingredients have combined.*** Season with salt and pepper to taste. In a large bowl, toss remaining ingredients with 1/4 cup of vinaigrette. Taste and add more vinaigrette to your liking!  

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*I’ve specified exact quantities here, but don’t be afraid to adjust as you see fit, as your fresh ingredients - and your tastes - will be different from mine! 
**Cook your own or use canned - either will do! To add a bit of extra richness and warmth to the salad, fry your chickpeas in a pan with a tablespoon or two of butter for a few minutes before adding them to the salad. 
***This’ll make more vinaigrette than you need for the salad, but you may find that it’s handy to have a few homemade dressings hanging out in the fridge. Alternatively, you can simply cut the quantities of the vinaigrette ingredients in half. 
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Feeling the quinoa love? Try out some of these other cool quinoa ideas!
- Quinoa patties: quinoa + cheese, fried to tasty perfection. 
- Breakfast quinoa: swap out the couscous and substitute in cooked quinoa for an extra-healthful start to the day. 
- Moroccan-style quinoa stew: super-spiced vegetarian quinoa stew, perfect for a chilly day. 
- Lemon-scented quinoa: Standard quinoa goes golden with the simple additions of fresh lemon juice and zest. 
- Quinoa sprouts: Have you heard? Quinoa sprouts are the new alfalfa sprouts. 

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