Foodie Friday – Basic Quina Skillet Meal

Quinoa is such an amazing food!  My family loves it, and we’ve been remembering to buy it enjoying it more often lately!  Since quinoa is a grain that many Americans aren’t aware of, I’d like to share some information about it and an easy recipe for making a quinoa skillet meal.

From the World’s Healthiest Foods,

Although not a common item in most kitchens today, quinoa is an amino acid-rich (protein) seed that has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and a somewhat nutty flavor when cooked. Quinoa is available in your local health food stores throughout the year.
Most commonly considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. It is a recently rediscovered ancient “grain” once considered “the gold of the Incas.”

 A quarter cup of quinoa provides the following recommended daily allowance percentages:

58.5%   manganese
31.2%   tryptophan
29.6%  magnesium
28.1%  phosphorus
20.7%  fiber
19.4%  folate
18%  copper

And only 12% of your daily calories at 222 calories per 1/4 cup!

So, obviously, we should all be adding Quinoa to our grocery lists right now!  It is incredible stuff!  It can be prepared in a variety of ways.  One of my favorites is to prepare it like oatmeal, with honey and bananas, for breakfasts in the winter.  But this recipe is *mildly* more complicated than that.  Today’s recipe is for a basic quinoa skillet meal.  I used ground beef, but you could really use any ground or shredded meat or beans instead of the beef.  This is a one dish meal that is so fast, easy,healthy, hearty and yummy that my family ate it up, begged for seconds, and then fought over the single serving that was leftover for lunch the following day.

Basic Quinoa Skillet Meal
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Small to Medium Onion, Chopped
1 Bell Pepper, Chopped  (And I’m going to say right here that I cheat on these two ingredients and buy the frozen bell pepper and onion blend from the grocery store, and use it whenever a recipe calls for peppers and onions.)
1 Clove Garlic, Minced
2 Celery Ribs, Sliced
1 lb ground beef
1 1/2 C Quinoa
Sage, cumin, salt, pepper and oregano to taste.  I used approximately 1/4 tsp each of the herbs, a dash of pepper and probably forgot the salt.
1 1/2 C Water, plus more if needed

Heat a 10 to 12 inch skillet on the stove top.  Add olive oil.  Wait a moment for the oil to heat, then add the onion and peppers.  Saute for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the garlic and celery.  Continue sauteing until all is fragrant, and slightly browned.  Add the ground beef, and cook until browned.  Drain fat if needed.  Add the dry quinoa and spices and toast for a minute or two.  Add water.  Simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, keeping an eye on your water level.  The quinoa will be acting like a whole grain, like rice or oatmeal if you have cooked these, and will be soaking up the water.  However, you do not want to run out of water before your quinoa goes from looking like a seed to looking like a fluffy puff of grain.  Likewise, you don’t want your quinoa to be fluffy and puffy and ready to eat, but floating around in a pool of water, either.  So, if the water gets too low, add more slowly.  When you think it is ready, taste a quinoa and make sure that it is easy to chew. If so, serve it up!

This entire recipe took me half an hour or less to prepare.  I minced garlic and chopped celery while the frozen peppers and onions sauteed.  And that was the only prep work.  It also didn’t hurt Papa’s feelings that it used only one skillet, since he is the official dishwasher in the family.  And this recipe served 2 adults, two children, and a baby.  Perfect for a busy weeknight!


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