Monday, February 23, 2015

Have you tried quinoa?

As you know, most of the recipes, tutorials, or information I post are usually about cakes, cookies, or other sweets. However, now and then I get really excited about something other than sweets. So my latest yummy excitement is about quinoa. Quinoa is an ancient South American grain that was eaten by the Incas, and has become increasingly popular as of late here in North America. Not only does it have wonderful nutrional value, but it tastes really great, and can be substituted for rice or other grains in many recipes. It has been called a "superfood" because it is a complete protein, containing all of the essential amino acids. There are 3 varieties of quinoa - white, red, and black. Each has a little different taste and texture. Lately, I have been using mostly red quinoa, as I was able to purchase a large bag at Costco not long ago. It has a wonderful "nutty" flavor and texture, and is a great addition to many recipes. I cook up a batch in my electric pressure cooker, store it in the refrigerator, and then just add it to different recipes. Tonight, for example I threw in the leftover quinoa that I had in my refrigerator into some taco soup, along with the beans and ground turkey. 

So here are the basic directions for cooking red quinoa in the electric pressure cooker. You can also cook it on the stove top.

2 cups red quinoa
2 1/2 cups liquid (any kind of broth or water)
1/2 tsp. salt

Stir all together in pressure cooker. Some people say you should soak it first and then rinse it, but I don't find that necessary. Lock the pressure cooker and set the timer for 9 minutes. When the timer goes off, use the quick release lever to release the pressure. When it is safe to open your cooker, open the lid and fluff up your quinoa. It should be tender but firm, and the little sprouts should be visible on each grain. 

To cook quinoa on the stove top, simmer covered for 30-35 minutes or until liquid has absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5 min. to finish steaming. When done, remove lid and fluff. When cooking white quinoa, reduce the amount of liquid to 2 cups. 

A couple of nights ago, I made the most amazing stuffed bell peppers, with quinoa and ground turkey. We are not much into beef at our house, but you can definitely substitute ground beef for the ground turkey, or leave it out all together if you are vegetarian or vegan. Again, I made these in my electric pressure cooker (quickly becoming one of my favorite kitchen tools), but you can also bake these in the oven. 

Easy Stuffed Bell Peppers

1 lb. ground turkey (or ground beef)
Approx. 2 cups cooked quinoa (cooked in chicken broth)
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
4 medium to large bell peppers (any color, I like the red, yellow, and orange ones because  they're sweeter)

Wash and cut the tops off the peppers. Clean out the inside membranes and seeds. Brown ground turkey with onion in skillet. Add cooked quinoa, 1/2 can tomato sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Fill the peppers and place on rack in bottom of pressure cooker. Carefully spoon the remainder of the tomato sauce over the peppers. Add 1/2 cup water to the bottom of the pressure cooker. Lock the cooker and set the timer for 4 minutes. When the timer is done, use the quick release lever to release the pressure. The peppers are tender, but still firm. If you like them a bit softer, then add another minute to your cooking time. If cooking in the oven, bake at 350-375 degrees for about 1/2 hour, or until done. Use a fork to check for doneness. 

Very delicious... and healthy. Enjoy!
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