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It’s only been a few months now since I discovered a new favourite ingredient; quinoa. I vaguely remember seeing it in health food shops during infrequent visits over the years, but I never gave it much attention. Here in Greece it’s not available in supermarkets yet, but I’m hoping people will catch on to how great this little seed is and hopefully it will be easier (and cheaper) to find eventually. Maybe by then we’ll be getting the name right as well! After reading on many websites the story of its origin and how the word is pronounced, it was funny to see the package with the name translated phonetically in Greek, reading the equivalent of KEENOA. I should get in touch with the importers and tell them 🙂 Apparently this little gem originates from South America, and was grown for human consumption as long as 3-4,000 years ago. Impressive!

So a few months back, I started coming across various recipes involving quinoa in all the blogs I read. The first one that actually made me go out and buy some, was this post on With a Side of Sneakers. It may sound strange, but a bit of cooked quinoa stirred into porridge just before it comes off the heat, gives it a gorgeous nutty taste and makes it an even better “fuel” for the day ahead due to the heaps of protein it provides. If you add a spoonful of honey or maple syrup… well that could be dessert for me! I love it.

Since then, I have found loads more recipes I really want to try, and no doubt they will all be making an appearance here at some point. When I made the chicken soup a few days ago (previous post), I left some of the cooked meat aside, with the intention of trying a very tasty looking stir fry dish from one of my favourite blogs, The Perfect Pantry.  I’m so glad I did! What a fantastic dinner. I used slightly different vegetables, because these are what I had in the fridge on the day I made it. And that’s the great thing about stir fry, it’s a great user-upper of odd bits of veg lurking at the back of the crisper drawer! Well, one of the great things. The main one being it’s just plain yummy. So, thank you Lydia for a wonderful recipe. (You should all take a visit to her site, it’s full of really interesting stuff!)

Quinoa Stir Fry with Chicken (slightly adapted from The Perfect Pantry’s Chicken and Vegetable Quinoa Stir-Fry)
Feeds 2 hungry people or makes a side dish for 3.

You’ll need:
½ cup quinoa
1 cup chicken stock or water
1 Tbs vegetable oil + 1 tsp toasted sesame oil (or use the same oil)
½ carrot, julienned (i.e. cut into matchstick-like strips)
½ red bell pepper, julienned
1 cup of broccoli (florets and julienned stalks)
3-4 small mushrooms, sliced
½ courgette (zucchini), julienned
½ tsp dried ginger (or use 1 or 2 tsp fresh, if you have it)
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ tsp fresh black pepper
1 egg
100gr cooked chicken cut into bite sized chunks (er, no bones obviously!)
Juice of ½ a lime
1 spring onion or scallion, chopped
1 tsp dried coriander (cilantro) (or 1/4 cup fresh if you have it)
2 Tbs soy sauce

What you do:

  1. Bring the stock or water to the boil in a small saucepan, and add the quinoa (check the packaging to see if you need to rinse it first). Give it a stir, turn the heat to low, and cover the pan leaving the quinoa to simmer for about 20 min, or until the water is absorbed. The quinoa is ready when it is soft and the little tail thingies come out of the seed. You’ll know what I mean when you see it! When it’s ready, take the pan off the heat and put a paper towel (or clean dish cloth) over it, and cover again with the lid. Set aside.
  2. Heat the tablespoon of oil in a wok or non stick frying pan on medium high. Add the bell pepper, carrot and broccoli, and cook stirring occasionally till they soften a bit.
  3. Add the mushrooms and courgette and stir fry for a bit longer (about another 2 minutes, depending on how soft you like your veg).
  4. Add the ginger, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Continue to stir fry for a few seconds to release the aromas.
  5. Remove the veg from the pan and set aside. Add the teaspoon of sesame oil (or same oil you used before) and return the pan to the heat. Add the cooked quinoa and break the egg over it. Stir so the egg cooks, about 30 seconds to a minute.
  6. Add the chicken, veg, onion, coriander, soy sauce and lime juice. Mix well and continue to cook for a while, till the chicken warms through (about a minute or two)
  7. Serve and enjoy!

For me, this made enough for one good dinner and one good lunch the next day!