A wonderful, year-around dish, quinoa is gluten-free, relatively high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids. It also provides some fiber, magnesium, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants. Quinoa is a grain crop grown for its edible seeds…in other words, it is a seed that is prepared and eaten similarly to a grain. Since quinoa basically ‘takes on’ the flavors of the ingredients added to it, you can just keep creating recipe variations until your imagination runs out! Think of your favorite salad toppings and homemade dressings, and add those to cooked and drained quinoa to add a boost of easily-absorbed, plant-based protein to your diet. You can also serve a quinoa dish like this one on top of mixed salad greens for added nutrition. I would recommend if you do so, make a bit of extra dressing, toss the mixed greens in it and place the quinoa combo on top.
Quinoa comes in different colors, with white, red, and black being the most commonly cultivated…most grocery stores also carry a tri-color option. There are slight differences in cooking times and chewiness; white quinoa, which you will most often find in stores, is the mildest and least crunchy, and cooks up the fastest, in 10 to 15 minutes. Black is on the other end of the spectrum—it might need 5 minutes or so longer and is the crunchiest of the three with red somewhere in the middle.”
The sweet potatoes in this ‘Sweet and Savory Quinoa’ recipe take on a savory taste when roasted with thyme and sea salt. Combined with the condensed sweetness of dried cranberries (use organic if at all possible) and some roughly chopped nuts for crunch, this is a filling and delicious meal or side dish. This is yet another easy opportunity to sneak in some greens because…why not?!! (We love every opportunity to get more of the 7-13 daily servings of fruits and veggies recommended by the FDA). The recipe below is SO delicious as is and will also be a spring-board for your own tasty, nutritious ideas…
|Sweet and Savory Quinoa|| |
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into small bite-sized pieces
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 heaping teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons sea salt and a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ cups quinoa of choice (I used white)
- 4 cups vegetable broth or water (I used ½ of each, but plain water works just fine)
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
- ¾ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 3 ounces fresh baby spinach
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- pinch of sea salt
- Position an oven rack just above the center of the oven and set oven to broil.
- Place cubed sweet potatoes on rimmed baking sheet.
- Drizzle with 2 T. olive oil and sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly.
- Put under broiler for 5 minutes and check...then for a minute or two at a time until sweet potatoes are tender but not mushy and slightly browned on the edges--approximately 10-12 minutes. (You can also roast at 425* for about 20 minutes, but I find they get cooked without getting browned--and this is a faster way to prepare them--no worries, just personal preference!!).
- Meanwhile, rinse quinoa in cold water in a fine mesh strainer.
- Bring broth or water to a boil and stir in the quinoa.
- Simmer, uncovered until tender...about 10 minutes. The grains will look like small spirals!
- Drain in large fine mesh strainer and gently mash liquid out of quinoa.
- Place in medium bowl while warm and add baby spinach, tossing to wilt it.
- Add in walnuts, cranberries and cooked sweet potato cubes and toss.
- Whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl and pour over top...gently mix.
- Serve immediately (slightly warm or room temperature).
- Refrigerated leftovers are delicious for a couple of days!