Until recently, I approached quinoa with the same level of enthusiasm one has for a pap smear. You know it’s good for you, but that doesn’t make it enjoyable.
The way I saw it, quinoa was a trend perpetuated by uppity Soul Cycle-going, Luluemon-wearing, green juice-drinking psychopaths to tarnish the good name of pasta. “The healthy pasta replacement you should be making for dinner!” read the over-eager headlines. I didn’t want to replace pasta. I wanted to swim in a bathtub of carbonara until the day I perished, probably from obesity.
I knew the epidemic had reached calamitous proportions when my own mother started advocating for the grain. To put this in perspective, my mother is a Greek woman who would rather visit Turkey than go a day without bread or cheese or other card-carrying members of the Gwyneth Paltrow Nutritional Hit List. She’s a chef with an unpretentious approach to food and quite frankly the last person I ever expected to stick up for quinoa. What’s next, I wondered incredulously, chia oatmeal with a dusting of bee pollen for breakfast? I suspected Ina Garten was to blame.
But that was before I tried THIS quinoa. As with most of the best things on this blog, the recipe is my mother’s (who also has a blog! Some families have Christmas traditions. Mine blogs.). I simplified it a bit to suit my culinary ability/ refined taste buds that I share with an eight-year-old, and voilà! A quinoa recipe that doesn’t suck.
It’s refreshing and delicious and good for you I think and it has caused me quite the existential crisis. Who am I? Should I change my name to Rain? Take up hot yoga and maybe dabble in composting? Am I the kind of person who might enjoy activated charcoal? Am I secretly athletic?
In case you were wondering, the answer to the latter question is no. Whilst trying to walk up a moving escalator yesterday, I almost keeled over and died.
But hey, I’m eating quinoa now! Baby steps. Today: gluten-free seeds. Tomorrow: metabolism-boosting sun salutations led by a paleo yogi in a Balinese cave. I’ll be a Goop-ette yet.
LEMONY QUINOA WITH BEANS, CORN, AND FETA
You Will Need
- 1 cup quinoa
- pinch of salt
- 1 can red kidney beans
- 1 cup corn
- 1 lemon
- crumbled feta (start with ~1/2 cup then add accordingly; for reference, I like feta so much I’ll probably name my firstborn after it so I usually add between 3/4 cup-1 cup of it)
- generous glug of olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- Rinse your quinoa well, then add to a large pot with two cups water and a pinch of salt (“a pinch” here meaning about a teaspoon’s worth, I just thought it sounded more profesh). Cover and bring to a boil, then uncover and let it simmer until all the water is absorbed. Be sure to stir constantly and check up on it as though you’re a first-time parent monitoring your newborn so it doesn’t burn!
- Transfer the cooked quinoa into a large bowl and let it cool completely, fluffing it every now and again to make it cool faster and also to let it know you care.
- Meanwhile, cook your corn and rinse your beans.
- When the quinoa is cooled and the rest of your ingredients are physically ready —there’s no telling the emotional state of a kidney bean, I’m afraid!— you can start assembling. Season your quinoa first by pouring in some olive oil and sprinkling some pepper over top, then squeeze in the juice of a small lemon. Add some more salt if it needs it, though it usually doesn’t.
- Mix in the rest of your ingredients and voilà, you have a dish guaranteed to cure all your ailments and give you abs overnight. That’s what the quinoa packaging says, anyway.