Quinoa originates from the Andes. It was highly revered by the Incas and called chisaya mama or 'mother of all grains'. While it may look like a cereal grain, it is actually more closely related to beets, spinach and tumbleweeds. This grain packs a powerful dietary punch.
Beware. Since my family loves this grain, many recipes will be coming your way in the coming weeks.
One key reminder about cooking with quinoa, remember to rinse it. If you don't, it will be bitter tasting since the plant has saponin which is beneficial pre-harvest to keep birds and other potential diners away from the seed, but not desirable to our palates. A simple rinsing will remove it. Most North American quinoa on the market has already been rinsed, but I don't take any chances.
Butternut Squash, Chicken and Quinoa Stew Recipe
1) In a large saucepan, pour in 4 cups of stock and place chicken breasts in to poach. Bring to a boil and then cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove chicken breasts to a plate to cool and put stock aside for later in the recipe. (You can skip this step if you are cooking the veggie version.)
2) In a large Dutch Oven, pour in olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add oregano and stir for a minute.
3) Add in garlic salt, butternut squash, tomatoes and stock from saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil and add quinoa and olives. Gently stir. Cover and reduce heat to low for 15 minutes.
4) Shred or cube chicken and add to the Dutch Oven along with pepper and parsley. Cook for 10 more minutes. Stir frequently.
5) Ladle into bowls while hot and top with grated asiago. Enjoy!
*Note: if you are going to warm it up later, add more stock during the warm up. The quinoa will absorb most of the liquid.