The Simple Quinoa Recipe That Changed Things For Me

When quinoa first entered the food scene (what, 10-ish years ago?) as the healthy thing to eat, I was always rather meh about it. It looks kind of weird, didn’t smell good and the texture was uninspiring to say the least. I’m not denying that the seed? grain? is good for you, it’s high in protein and packs a lot of amino acids, but the taste always left me wanting more. And now, several years later, I know why. I was doing it wrong.

As with a lot of other recipes, such as meatballs and eggplant dip , Julia Turshen taught me a better way via her Small Victories cookbook. In her Potluck Quinoa recipe, not only does she have a genius way to avoid a soggy texture but her recipe includes a ton of fresh herbs, toasty hazelnuts and goat cheese. What more could you want in a quinoa side dish?

This is honestly a super easy and quick side that you can whip up for friends or as Julia recommends, bring it to a potluck (do people even still do potlucks?). Oh and if you care at all about aesthetics like I do, here’s a tip: always go for the tri-colour (white, black and red) quinoa. It just looks and tastes better, trust me. Oh, and you can easily get creative when it comes to subs. I’ve made this with any old herbs I have on hand (dill, chives, fennel fronds, parsley, cilantro, etc) and have also swapped the cheese for feta and halloumi. The combos are endless!

Recipe from Small Victories, by Julia Turshen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup whole raw hazelnuts, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 large handfuls baby arugula and/or soft, leavy herbs (parsley, dill, chives, etc.) roughly chopped
  • 4 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Method

Rinse the quinoa thoroughly and put in a medium saucepan with 1 3/4 cups water and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water, softened, and each grain has “spiraled,” about 12 minutes,

Transfer quinoa to a baking sheet and use a spoon to spread it out. Let cool at room temperature, then transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the hazelnuts, sprinkle with a large pinch of salt, and cook, stirring frequently until the nuts are dark brown, about 5 minutes.

Transfer hazelnuts and all their fragrant oil to the bowl with the quinoa, along with the lemon juice and arugula. Stir everything together and season to taste with salt. Scatter the goat cheese on top of the quinoa and drizzle the whole thing evenly with a good glug of olive oil, just before serving.

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