Recently, however, a startling change has come over me. In an attempt to counterbalance my more frequent indulgences at restaurants and gelato shops across town, I’ve started cooking with the nutritional powerhouse more often. Not just as a substitute for brown rice in my stir-fries or as a side dish for baked chicken (that’s all kid’s stuff, really), but as the central focus of my meal.
First quinoa black bean salad, then quinoa with roasted veggies and eggs, then quinoa risotto...
I could go on, but I won’t. It’s painful enough already. My roommates are starting to show concern, my dad is upset that I’m becoming a quinoa-pusher, and my countertops are perpetually littered with the tiny kernels -- a physical manifestation of my affliction.
It’s hard for me to admit this, but I know it’s time. My name is Diana Takes a Bite, and I’m addicted to quinoa.
The realization hit me this Saturday afternoon. I’d just finished eating a big plate of my take on 101 Cookbooks' Quinoa and Grilled Zucchini recipe and was feeling rather blissful. Almost like I’d just eaten a big fatty piece of chocolate rather than a healthy lunch. I couldn’t stop thinking about how good it was, and how I wanted to make it again – though next time with black beans instead of the hardboiled egg, and with fresh corn instead of the frozen I’d added to the salad.
As I snuggled up on my bed to upload the pictures on my laptop, I started to do a mental count of how many times I’d eaten quinoa that week. I came up with five different times. In six days. Yes, different preparations, but still! Five times in six days?!
I immediately confessed my sins to the Twitterverse and felt a bit better after receiving affirmation that there are worse things to be addicted to (crack, porn, "The Hills"). I then proceeded to make quinoa for dinner last night and Sunday night. Because if the Twitterverse says it’s okay, then it must be okay. And while I'm on the subject, this dish, my friends, is more than okay.
Quinoa and Grilled Zucchini
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
¼ ripe avocado
1 tablespoon cilantro
½ garlic clove, finely minced
1 tablespoon plain Greek nonfat yogurt (I used Fage)
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons water
Sea salt to taste
1 hard boiled egg (or substitute ¼ - ½ cup black beans)
1 zucchini, cut into ½ inch thick strips
¼ cup quinoa
½ cup chicken broth (to cook quinoa)
¼ cup frozen or fresh corn
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds (101 Cookbooks’ recipe calls for pine nuts)
1 tablespoon goat cheese, crumbled
Handful of arugula (optional)
Cilantro to garnish
Combine avocado, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, yogurt, water and salt. Using either an immersion blender or blender, mix together until creamy and smooth. Set aside.
Meanwhile, prepare quinoa according to package instructions. When all the chicken broth or water has been absorbed, uncover and add in the corn. Stir together until corn has heated through, and then set aside.
Grill the zucchini using either a grill pan or a bbq. When just tender, remove from the grill and cut into chunks. Toss with quinoa, and then add the black beans or egg (depending on what you are using). Combine quinoa mixture with dressing to taste (there will be extra) and then place salad over optional bed of arugula on serving plate. Top with goat cheese, sunflower seeds and extra cilantro.