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

Serves 3

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. 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?

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14 Comments

  1. Michelle on May 30, 2013 at 9:42 am

    This looks delicious! I’m definitely going to try this out this weekend. I have a huge bag of quinoa that I bought a long time ago for one recipe and then I didn’t know how else to use it. Thanks!

    • Megan Lyons on May 30, 2013 at 11:14 am

      Awesome, Michelle! Let me know what you think. And you can definitely change it up with other veggies or protein based on what you have. Hope you guys like it!

  2. Holly on May 30, 2013 at 10:26 am

    This looks amazing and right up my alley! One question about the quinoa….have you found an easy method, trick, or contraption for rinsing it? Every strainer i have has HUGE holes and doesn’t exactly work for the small seeds. Perhaps there is one out there that I don’t know about or a different method?

    • Megan Lyons on May 30, 2013 at 11:17 am

      Oh no! A question I have no good answer for :). To be perfectly honest, I just dump it in a bowl, swirl it around a bit, then drain it with a pot lid or my hand (after washing!) or a few paper towels (not very eco-friendly). Sometimes I repeat the whole process a second time. I always lose a few, though, and I’m not 100% sure it gets rinsed completely, but I think it’s good enough. I’ll let you know if I find another good option, or if anyone else has one, please chime in with your comment!

      • Laurie on May 30, 2013 at 6:21 pm

        I think we all need to invest in a mesh strainer. If you google “mesh strainer for quinoa” you’ll see we are not the only ones with this problem 🙂 I suppose we could also try cheese cloth.

        • Megan Lyons on May 30, 2013 at 9:19 pm

          Oooh great idea, Laurie … I just ordered cheese cloth to try to make almond milk. I will try straining the quinoa with it eventually and let you all know!

  3. Katie on June 3, 2013 at 9:22 am

    I bet this would be good with tofu instead of seafood for us vegetarians. I think my girls would love it! Where’s the best place to buy quinoa? I’ve looked for it at King Soopers but all I have found is the box mixes.

    • Megan Lyons on June 3, 2013 at 12:15 pm

      I bet it would be good with tofu! Just be sure to keep the lemon juice/ basil/ salt and pepper (or use other seasonings) since tofu by itself doesn’t have tons of flavor. In terms of finding it … we don’t have a King Soopers, but more and more “mainstream” grocery stores are starting to carry quinoa plain (even Walmart, Target, etc.). Sometimes you have to look around (I’ve seen it in the “healthy” section, the rice/ beans/ pasta section, and even the Asian section, which doesn’t make tons of sense!). If you can’t find it there, though, stores like Whole Foods/ Trader Joe’s will definitely have it, or you can get it on Amazon fairly cheap, like this one.

      • Katie on June 4, 2013 at 1:46 am

        Thanks! King Soopers is just Kroger or CIty Market, different names in different cities. We don’t have a Trader Joes yet, but Whole Foods is just a couple blocks away, I’ll check there!

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