I hope you’re excited to see a healthy recipe here today ’cause I know it’s been a while…
This may be the recipe that changed my perspective on quinoa. I mean, I’ve always been on board with quinoa because of how awesomely good for you it is, but until now, I never actually got excited about eating it. I thought that quinoa was bland and mushy, but I finally realized that quinoa is only as bland and mushy as you make it. Duh!
I’ve found that, like with rice, quinoa’s flavor can be greatly enhanced by adding more flavors in the cooking process. So I now always cook it in either chicken stock or vegetable stock, whichever I have on hand. Even substituting half or three-fourths of the cooking water for stock will help improve the taste.
Adding herbs and spices to the cooking process is another way to boost the flavor. Basil, parsley, and cilantro usually find their way into my quinoa along with lemon or lime juice. Salt isn’t necessary if you’re using chicken or vegetable stock– even the reduced sodium kind will likely have enough– but shaking in some pepper doesn’t hurt.
When it comes to cooking quinoa, don’t be shy about experimenting with flavors! Making a tasty sauce to add at the end is great, but whatever you add to the pot while it’s cooking is going to be absorbed into the seed itself and, therefore, solve the problem of bland quinoa.
Now, about this Thai Chicken Quinoa– You can eat it as a main dish or as a side dish to a salad or sandwich. Either way, you’ll love it because it’s hearty, healthy, well-rounded, and, as you’ve figured out by now, flavorful! Also, the variety of texture in this dish– the peanuts, chicken, carrots, edamame– really make a nice balance and take away from quinoa’s mushy nature.
You should really give this a try. I think you’ll be quite pleased.
(slightly adapted from How Sweet Eats)
- 1 c. uncooked quinoa, rinsed
- 2 c. reduced sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock for cooking quinoa*
- juice of 1 lime, divided
- 1/2 c. + 2 Tbs. freshly chopped cilantro
- 2 garlic cloves, divided
- 1 lb. chicken breast, cooked and shredded
- 2/3 c. carrots, chopped or shredded
- 2/3 c. shelled edamame (I use frozen.)
- 2/3 c. green onions, chopped
- 1/4 c. sweet and sour sauce**
- 2 Tbs. rice vinegar
- 2 Tbs. almond milk
- 1 Tbs. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. creamy peanut butter (Homemade or natural peanut butter works great here, but store-bought will mix in easier if melted first.)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 c. peanuts, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
* Water can be used to cook the quinoa, but chicken or vegetable stock makes it so much more flavorful, so I’d highly recommend it. Even using half water and half stock makes a difference.
** Original recipe calls for sweet chili sauce; that works just as well, but I decided to use sweet and sour since I had it on hand.
- Prepare quinoa with half the lime juice, 2 Tbs. cilantro, and 1 clove garlic, according to package directions. After the liquid has come to a boil, add the edamame and carrots.
- In the meantime, whisk together the sauce ingredients– sweet and sour sauce, rice vinegar, almond milk, brown sugar, peanut butter, remaining garlic, lime juice, and ginger– in a small bowl.
- When the quinoa is cooked and has absorbed all the liquid, stir in the sauce until well incorporated. Then, add in the chicken and green onions.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir in half of the peanuts and cilantro.
- Serve the meal in a large bowl, topped with the reserved peanuts and cilantro.
- Recipe yields 4 servings. Store in an airtight container for up to four days.
If you’re not fully on board with quinoa due to its mushy/bland tendency, I hope you learned something helpful here today!
If you’d like to learn a little more about the health benefits of quinoa and get another great recipe idea, check out my Quinoa Stuffed Peppers.
I asked this same question on my last quinoa recipe, but I’m going to ask it again because that was many moons ago, and I’m sure there are some new quinoa trends out there…
What’s your favorite way to use quinoa? Feel free to post any recipes in the comments!
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