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Simple Sides: Delicious Herbed Quinoa

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Up until about a month ago, I had never tried quinoa. I was like, "What the hell is it? How do you pronounce it? Is it a grain? Is it...like...pasta? What do you put on it? Why is there so much in my brother's pantry?" So many questions.

The bro had recently come back from a little stint in Peru and wouldn't shut up about this quinoa stuff. "It's so good, it's versatile, and it's really good for you...it's like...astronaut food..." All right, all right. I went over to Kroger, moseyed around the health food section for a while, and bought a half-pound from a little self-service dispenser thingy. Once home, and having no clue what to do with my baggie, I hopped online and found a tasty-looking recipe. I also learned a few things about this neat little seed, like:

  • Not only is quinoa high in protein, but it's a complete protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids. ALL NINE, y'all.
  • It's good for migrane sufferers. Quinoa is a good source of magnesium, a mineral that helps relax blood vessels.
  • The vitamin B and folate in quinoa help the liver eliminate wastes from the body (and hey, anything that's good for the liver is good news....those bartender chats don't do themselves...) adding to quinoa's detoxifying properties.

So the recipe I found online was Giada's Herbed Quinoa. It looked easy and fast enough, so I dug in. (And if you don't like to read and would rather have a pretty lady just tell you what to do, here's the video.)

You need:

  • 2 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa

For the dressing, you need:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest

Directions: In a medium saucepan, add the chicken stock, lemon juice and quinoa.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Reduce the heat to a simmer (seriously, don't burn it. Burned quinoa is pretty gross).

Cover the pan and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 12 to 15 minutes.

For the dressing:

In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, basil, parsley, thyme, and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour the dressing over the quinoa and toss until all the ingredients are coated. Transfer the quinoa to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

I will say that it's pretty damn lemony and I liked that, but if you wanna go easy on the lemon and heavier on the basil or thyme, go for it. It's your party.

We like this recipe so much in our house that we make it on a weekly basis now. It's the perfect side. Rice? What the hell is rice? We're all about this stuff, so I guess we've hopped on the quinoa bandwagon. A pal was telling me about a Mediterranean version he makes, and there are so many variations online to try, like this quinoa "mac & cheese"...? What? Yes, please.

Do you like quinoa? Do you have a favorite way to prepare it? Let us know in the comments section.

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