Have you heard of quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah)? If so, have you tried it yet? Quinoa has been all the rage in healthy living circles for a while now, and in my opinion, rightfully so. It’s a nutritious and tasty way to incorporate whole grains into your diet without some of the negative consequences that wheat brings to some people. In fact, quinoa is a complete protein (meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids) and has the highest protein content of any naturally-occurring grain (OK, quinoa is technically a seed, but it looks, tastes, and nutritionally acts a lot like a grain). It also has tons of heart-healthy fiber, as well as a high concentration of several vitamins and minerals (including iron, riboflavin, manganese, lysine, and magnesium). It’s gluten-free, so most people (even those with gluten intolerances) can enjoy it, and it’s a great source of slow-release, energy-infusing carbohydrates. Plus, it tastes great – a bit like rice, but with a more fun texture! Are you on board yet? Let’s dive into a recipe!
Summer Seafood, Quinoa, and Vegetable Salad
- 1/2 cup dry quinoa
- 0.5 lbs raw scallops (I picked up a small frozen package from Sprouts, and this is just how big it happened to be. It was around 10 medium-sized scallops, but feel free to adjust to preference)
- 6 large frozen shrimp, defrosted
- 2 cups zucchini, chopped
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
- 1 small yellow bell pepper, diced
- 4 stalks celery, diced
- 10 stalks asparagus, diced
- 2 large handfuls of spinach
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup white wine (optional, I used Sauvignon Blanc … and opening a bottle is a great excuse to pour yourself a glass!)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Rinse your quinoa if it isn’t already rinsed, and add it to about 1 cup of water. Bring it all to a boil, then let it simmer for 15 minutes. Keep it covered while you cook.
- Heat olive oil in large skillet. Chop vegetables and add to the pan. I added the celery, zucchini, yellow pepper, and asparagus first, then sautéed for 5-6 minutes.
- While first set of veggies are sautéing, spray smaller skillet with cooking spray, and add defrosted seafood (I chopped up the shrimp before doing this). Season the seafood with salt and pepper, and let it cook for 5-6 minutes.
- Add spinach, cherry tomatoes, and basil to the pan of vegetables and stir. Add wine (optional), lemon juice, and salt/ pepper. Sauté for another 2-5 minutes, or until most of the liquid evaporates.
- Drain your seafood and dump it into the veggie skillet. Drain your quinoa if needed, and mix that in as well. Stir it all up, and portion it out into 3 bowls. You’ll see I automatically placed it in my own bowl for that evening, plus two plastic containers – one to freeze for later use (no promises on how well it’ll freeze, though) and one to pack for my lunch today. A small tasting bowl for Kevin snuck in there, too!
- Pour yourself a glass of wine, if you haven’t already, and enjoy! This was a true taste of summer – light and lemony enough to leave me feeling refreshed, but also filling enough that I was satisfied and energized.
So tell me in the comments … have you tried quinoa? If so, what’s your favorite way to use it? If not, what’s your other favorite whole grain?