Simple Sides – Quinoa

If you asked me to pick the top 10 foods that I couldn’t live without, quinoa would be at the top of that list. This super food is SO versatile, SO easy to make, and SO healthy.

According to the package I have on hand, quinoa is a complete protein with all 8 essential amino acids.  I’m not sure exactly what that means, but it sure does sound good to me.

And it sure does taste good, too.

I think people can be intimidated by quinoa because it sounds exotic, which most people associate with difficult to prepare or to pair with dishes.

But I am here to tell you that if you try quinoa once, you will want to add this easy little dish to all of your meals.

It makes a great substitute for rice and I personally use it as a base for every single soup or chili that I make. (Interested in some soup or chili recipes?  Check out my Black Bean Turkey Chili and my Chicken Taco Crock Pot Soup for a few of our favorites.)

When having it as a side dish, I sauté a sweet onion and a red/yellow/orange bell pepper in a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper for about 5-7 minutes. I add a minced clove or two of garlic in the last minute or so of sautéing. (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you can never have too much garlic.)

I prepare the quinoa as directed below and add the cooked onion and bell pepper. And voila. A perfect side dish.

The recipe itself is simple, but there is a KEY substitution that I make instead of following the typical ingredient list that you’ll find on your package of quinoa: instead of using water as your liquid, use chicken or vegetable stock.

With that in mind, here are the directions I follow when I make my weekly (or sometimes twice weekly) batch of quinoa.

Simple Quinoa

Serves 4 (as a traditional side or as a base for a soup – I almost always make 4 servings and refrigerate any leftovers to have the next day)

Combine 4 cups of chicken (or veggie) stock and 2 cups of quinoa into a sauce pan over medium heat

It doesn’t look like much at first, but boy does this stuff expand as it cooks

Bring to a rapid boil

Lower heat and simmer COVERED for 15 minutes

Fluff up the quinoa with a fork and enjoy!


One of the best things about quinoa?  You can store it in the fridge for a day or two and heat it up in the microwave.  It tastes just as good as it does when you first make it!

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