Jazzy, Snazzy Quinoa

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is a fabulous alternative to brown rice. Quinoa is technically the seed of an herbaceous flowering plant, not a cereal grass (grain), but its texture, flavor, and uses echo those of many true grains, so it’s generally thought of as a grain.

Quinoa is quick to prepare, cooking up in about fifteen minutes, but it must be rinsed well before cooking. Rinse quinoa by placing it into in a large bowl, covering with cold water, swishing around with your hands, then draining in a screened colander. Once the quinoa is placed in the screened colander, run cold water over the quinoa, for about 15 seconds. Drain and then continue with your recipe.

Quinoa is high in protein and it is delightful served alongside a generous serving of steamed vegetables or cooked up with canned beans to make a quick and hearty supper.

Here are two of my Jazzylicious quinoa recipes!

JAZZY, SNAZZY QUINOA                                        

This is my favorite way to prepare quinoa as a side dish.

1 cup quinoa, rinsed very well and drained                                            

2 cups water                                                                                   

1 vegetable bouillon cube, crumbled                                           

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cover. Bring to a simmer. Simmer over medium-low heat for 15 to 17 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with fork. Remove from heat and cover. Let the quinoa sit for 5 to 7 minutes. Serve!


Fancy Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa and Black Beans

Makes 6 servings

This tempting, hearty entrée is especially well-suited to holidays, and the festive presentation will grace the table at any holiday celebration. Choose the color of peppers accordingly: orange and yellow for Thanksgiving, red and green for Christmas, red for Valentine’s Day or yellow for Springtime celebrations.


Photo Credit: Warren Jefferson

1 cup quinoa, rinsed thoroughly

2 cups vegetable broth

6 bell peppers, any color or a combination of colors

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 jar (about 25 ounces) marinara sauce, as needed

1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed

6 ounces cremini or white button mushrooms, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1⁄4 cup toasted wheat germ, plus more as needed

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon dried basil

Put the quinoa and broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is soft but not mushy. Let cool slightly. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours.

When ready to assemble the stuffed peppers, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Slice off the top 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 inches of each pepper and set aside (these tops will be used to “cap” the peppers later). Seed the peppers.

Stir the oil into 1⁄2 cup of the marinara sauce. Spread the mixture in the bottom of a deep casserole large enough to hold all the peppers snugly so they remain upright during baking.

Set aside 1⁄4 cup of the remaining marinara sauce. Mix the quinoa with the beans, mush- rooms, onion, wheat germ, garlic, basil, and half of the remaining marinara sauce. Stir until well combined, adding more marinara sauce, a couple of tablespoonfuls at a time, until the mixture is moist but not soupy. If the mixture does get a little soupy, simply add more wheat germ.

Spoon one-quarter of the mixture into each pepper, mounding it if need be. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the reserved marinara sauce over each pepper,

then top with the pepper tops. (The stuffing will peek out between the pepper tops and bottoms.) Carefully position the peppers in the casserole so they will remain upright while baking.

Cover and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the peppers are slightly tender but not mushy. Serve immediately or let cool for 15 minutes before serving. Put the sauce that has accumulated at the bottom of the casserole in a gravy boat or small bowl to pass at the table.

This recipe is from EPISODE #112 Jazzy Vegetarian on Public Television: THE COMPANION COOKBOOK: JAZZY VEGETARIAN, Lively Vegan Cuisine That’s Easy and Delicious © LAURA THEODORE 2011