My first experience with quinoa, the blog group’s power food of the week, was about 8 years back. I had heard about all the marvelous nutritional benefits from quinoa so I made a special trip to the health food store to buy a box and bring it home. I cooked it up by itself, tasted it, but I didn’t like it. I just couldn’t get around that texture. It felt so foreign in my mouth and it took about three or four tries too get used to it. My husband had the same reaction too. We both love it now, and enjoy it as an alternative to brown rice. Rather than trying quinoa on it’s own as a side pilaf, it’s best to try it in a dish like today’s main course, Quinoa with Brussels Sprouts, Sausage, Almonds, Leeks and Dried Cranberries, where the quinoa is mixed with lots of tasty goodies and it is delicious! It makes a great introduction to quinoa if you haven’t already tried it.
It may be a surprise to some people that Quinoa is a seed and not a grain, which makes it a good gluten free alternative to grains. It belongs to the same plant family as spinach and Swiss chard. It’s high in fiber, having 5.2 grams fiber per cup serving, and it’s a great source of protein because it contains all 9 essential animo acids. It’s also a great source of manganese, which activates enzymes responsible for key nutrients. I like it for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. And, cooking processes don’t seem to compromise the nutrients.
Unprocessed quiona is coated with saponin, a bitter lathery substance used in detergents to create foam. Although, the quinoa you buy has been “desaponized,” it’s still a good idea to put it in a sieve and rinse it under cold water before use.
Servings: 4 to 5 Prep Time: 20 Baking Time: 40 minutes
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
½ onion, chopped
1 cup white quinoa
1-½ pounds Brussels sprouts
1/4 cup almonds (blanced and split in half)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pre-cooked sausage, sliced (I use Aidells Cajun Style Andouille)
Parsley – to garnish
1. Prepare the vegetables: Peel off the outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts and discard them. Wash the sprouts, dry them, and then slice them along the length. Next, cut off the green tops from the leeks and discard them. Slice the leeks in half, wash them, dry them, and then chop them well. Next, place 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the Brussels sprouts, the leeks, and the garlic on a roasting pan and bake for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time. After 20 minutes is up, add the sausage and continue baking. After 10 more minutes, turn off the heat, add the almonds, the cranberries, and the balsamic vinegar. Stir the mixture, cover the pan, and let it rest in the oven another 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Cook the quinoa: While the Brussels sprouts are in the oven, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small pot and then add the onion and sauté it until it is translucent. Place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse with cold water, and then add it to the pot with 2 cups of water and a bay leaf, and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and cook until all the water is absorbed—about 15 minutes. When the quinoa has absorbed the water, fluff it up with a fork and set it aside.
3. Peel the almonds: While the quinoa is cooking, bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a small pot, and then add the almonds and remove the pot from the heat to let the almonds soak for 5 minutes. Next, hold the large end of an almond and squeeze the nut through the pointed end of the skin until it pops out. Repeat until all the almonds are peeled, and then slice them in half lengthwise, through the side.
4. Put it all together: Place the quinoa in a large serving bowl and toss with the roasted vegetables. Garnish with parsley and serve.
If you are a blogger and would like to take part in our group blogging about Power Foods: 150 Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients, (from the editors at Martha Stewart’s Living Magazine) we’d love to have your company. Contact: Mireya(at)myhealthyeatinghabits.com for details.
Check out what these other bloggers have cooked up! Alyce – More Time at the Table, Ansh – Spice Roots, Casey –SweetSav Jeanette – Jeanette’s Healthy Living, Martha – Simple-Nourished-Living, Minnie – The Lady 8 Home, Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits