Saturday, July 17, 2010

Quin-WHAT?

Quinoa. What is it? It's one of those health food, trendy buzz words, that I won't lie, I've used. That wouldn't be so bad, but I've never actually tried it. I've praised it as a healthy carb and told friends and family of its wonderful levels of protein, iron and fiber. I've kept my eye out for it, but I just haven't seen it in my grocery store. 

So a few days ago I went into Trader Joe's with a mission. I was coming out of that store with bucket, bag or box of Quinoa if it was the last thing I did. What was I looking for?! Bucket, bag or box? Box. I nabbed it and got the heck out of there, love the groceries, but the crowd in there was driving me absolutely crazy.

Made it out alive, went home and put away the groceries, not the Quinoa though. No, if I was going to do this, I was going to do it right. I left it out so it could stare at me, and I at it til its fate was decided. 
 It's pretty rare for an apartment in Los Angeles to have central air, and lately we've been dying. We've got a wall unit, but unless you're right in front of it, you're pretty miserable. I didn't think I could stomach something hot...let alone something I've never tried. I would have to make a cold Quinoa dish. 

Now I've heard you can treat it kind of like rice, but I wanted to make a mock version of my favorite potato salad from Von's. The calories are probably similar, but I promise you're going to get more nutrients if you use my version.
Measure out a cup of the dry Quinoa then rinse it with cold water. All of my strainers are too big so I used a paper towel lost quite a bit down the drain. (Note to self invest in one of those spatula screen thingies.)

Then put them all in a sauce pan with 2 cups of chicken broth. You can use water, but I was nervous I wouldn't like it and thought the extra flavor would help. 
Bring it to a strong boil then knock it back down to a simmer for like 15 minutes. I'm telling ya, treat this stuff just as you would rice and you're golden.

After all the stock is absorbed turn off the heat and let it sit for a spell.
Come back and add about 6 tablespoons of whipped cream cheese.

Mix it in real good and then put in as much dill as you want. I like a lot so I just went to town. Slowly add in small amounts of red wine vinegar, tasting as you go. It'll taste a little odd because it's still warm, but that's okay, you'll get the idea. After you've got it the way you like it, let it cool completely and then pop it in the fridge for a few hours or even longer (it keeps really well, had it for breakfast this morning!)
After it's chilled, you're good to go. You've got a healthy, tangy side dish perfect for summer picnics and get-togethers. Feel free to experiment with sour cream or whatever, I'm not really into heavy mayonnaise so sour cream or whipped cream cheese are my go-tos. Try it, make it your own and consider me a Quinoa convert.


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