Here’s a misconception that I’ve been harboring: I thought that quinoa was a grain. It turns out, quinoa is a seed! Who knew? Here’s one thing I’m sure I’m not mistaken about, though… quinoa is healthy and delicious. An ancient American “pseudo-cereal,” it packs all the nutritional benefits of whole grains – lots and lots of fiber – but also is high in protein. If you’re trying to work more whole grains into your diet and you’re sick of brown rice, give quinoa a try. It cooks up light and fluffy, with a pleasant nutty taste that matches well with many other flavors.
This dish, quinoa spinach bake, is a great way to get more quinoa on your table. It was billed as a side dish, but I think that it also makes a fantastic vegetarian entree, given the many nutritional benefits that quinoa and spinach offer. It’s easy to throw together after work – just cook up the quinoa, mix in the other ingredients, plop them in a baking dish, and poof! Instant (well, after 30 minutes) wholesomeness!
Quinoa Spinach Bake
2 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 yellow onion, medium-diced
extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 package spinach
1/4 cup lowfat cottage cheese
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, stripped from stems
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat an 8-by-8 glass or ceramic baking dish with an olive oil cooking spray and set aside.
- Cook the quinoa according to the package directions (1 cup of dried quinoa should yield about 2 cups of cooked quinoa), flavoring with a bit of salt.
- While the quinoa cooks, warm a drizzle of olive oil in a non-stick saute pan. Cook the onion, seasoning with salt, until translucent. Add the red pepper flakes and stir for a few seconds, until fragrant. Add the spinach and wilt, tossing to coat with the onions. Transfer onions and spinach to a bowl. Add eggs, cottage cheese, cracked pepper and herbs.
- When the quinoa finishes cooking, add it to the spinach mixture and stir thoroughly to combine. Transfer quinoa-spinach mixture to the prepared baking dish and smooth out the top.
- Bake 30-35 minutes, until top is golden. Slice and serve with a green salad!
Yield: Serves 4 as a vegetarian entree, 8 as a side dish.
Source: Adapted from WholeLiving.com.