What’s Quinoa?

Well to quote the online new world encyclopedia website, quinoa is:

“native to the high altitude of the Andes, and characterized by small green clustered flowers and small fruits with a single seed.”

“Quinoa has been a popular food for people of the higher Andes since at least the time of Incas, who called it the “mother grain” or “mother of all grains,” and for whom it was treated as sacred.”


“With its high-protein content, including all of the essential amino acids, quinoa has been hailed as a “supergrain of the future.” It also is higher in unsaturated fats than most grains and lower in carbohydrates, and provides a balanced source of many nutrients, including a rich source of iron and vitamin B1″


So, last night I cooked quinoa for the first time. I made my usual scroll through the interwebs to research different recipes and didn’t really fall in love with anything I found. So, I had just roasted a vidalia onion a couple of nights ago and liked the flavor a lot so roasted flavors is what I went with.

I decided on Roasted Garlic and Sweet Onion Quinoa with Toasted Pecans. The toasted pecans because I used BBQ sauce on my kabobs and BBQ and pecans remind me of growing up in the south.

To start, I preheated the oven to 350 degress and then I wrapped an entire head of garlic in aluminum foil which I had drizzled with EVOO and sprinkled a pinch of kosher salt over. Then I did the same for the vidalia onion but to that also added about 1/4 teaspoon of fennel seed. I placed both foil packets in the oven to roast. OMFG can you even imagine how wonderful the house smelled? Roasting the veggies was the most difficult part of dinner 🙂 I roasted the garlic about an hour and then set it aside to cool. You do not want to attempt to remove the cloves of garlic until it has completely cooled. The onion, after I’d taken out the garlic, I removed from the oven, opened the foil packet, sprinkled the onion with about 1/2 teaspoon of raw, organic sugar, and placed it on a baking sheet with the foil left open to caramelize it a bit. It maybe took another 15-20 minutes of roasting time before it was nice and golden. I then set the vidalia onion aside to cool as well.

Next, I toasted up about 2 tablespoons of pecans for about 3 minutes on a dry skillet over med-high heat. You have to watch the pecans closely and stir frequently because they will burn in a hurry. Once the pecans were nice and fragrant I set them aside as well and my quinoa prepping was basically complete.

For the kabobs, I sliced up two zucchinis, two Italian-style Smart Sausage links (Amy ♥ them big time) and used about six yellow cherry tomatoes that my friend Renee so generously gave me last Saturday. I then skewered the veggies and sausage (well tomato is technically a fruit) onto my metal skewers and placed them on a broil pan I’d prepped by lining the bottom with aluminum foil and spraying the rack with Smart Balance Non-Stick Cooking Spray (my fav). I also sprayed the kabobs with the non-stick spray before sprinkling them with kosher salt and fresh ground black peppercorns. Then I brushed on Stubbs Spicy BBQ Sauce (the only bottled BBQ sauce I like) and placed the kabobs in the fridge to let them marry.

I waited for Amy to get home, and around 6:30 I started finishing dinner. So, the kabobs married about an hour and a half in the fridge. To pull dinner all together, I turned on the broiler and began cooking the quinoa per the packages directions, except I used broth instead of plain water and added my roasted garlic so that it would simmer along with the quinoa (to add that hidden layer of extra flavor I so love). I broiled the kabobs about 15 minutes, which is the same time it takes the quinoa to cook. Easy. Once the quinoa was ready I fluffed it up with a fork while stirring in the roasted onion and the pecans and salt and pepper to taste. To serve I plated it all up and we enjoyed dinner out on the back porch.  So I vote quinoa for dinner was a simple success, I tried something new, and even Amy liked it. :o)

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