While quinoa became popular in North America only recently, in South America where it's from, this grain-like seed has been cultivated for thousands of years.
When it comes to cooking quinoa, and all of the delicious ways it can be used, we have a lot of catching up to do!
I stumbled upon a recipe for "Quinoa con Queso", or quinoa with fresh farmers cheese, in this book, and have since found many other variations online.
As I played around and experimented with this recipe I had two revelations. The first is that quinoa tastes great with milk poured over it. Which is why it works great as a breakfast cereal.
The second revelation is quinoa tastes great with cheese (queso)!
Here we are using queso fresco, a Mexican fresh farmers cheese, but you could also use Cotija, feta, or mozzarella.
You can keep it simple with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and cheese, or dress it up with zucchini, roasted chiles, or potatoes.
Quinoa with Tomatoes and Cheese
If you want, you can add more vegetables up front to this dish, for example, sauté some chopped zucchini along with the onions. And/or serve with new potatoes, either chopped and mixed in (cooked of course), or served alongside.
- 1 cup quinoa, well rinsed
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 large fresh tomato, cored, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
- 1 roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped large green chile, either Anaheim or Poblano (optional)*
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon fresh, finely chopped)
- 1/4 pound (4 ounces) fresh farmer's cheese, or queso fresco, cut into small cubes
- 1 cup milk
- Fresh basil, cilantro, or chives for garnish (optional)
- *See How to roast chile peppers over a gas flame
Cook the quinoa:
Put 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups of water into a medium sized pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
Prepare the sauce:
While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the sauce. Heat olive oil and butter in a medium skillet on medium heat. Add the onions and cook for a couple minutes. Add the garlic, cook for a minute more.
Add the chopped tomato, about 1/2 teaspoon salt, dried oregano, and tomato paste. Add chopped green chiles (cooked) if using. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Stir until well combined.
Let cook until the tomatoes have cooked through and the sauce has cooked down a bit. Then stir in the cheese. Taste and add more salt or pepper if needed.
Stir in milk and top with sauce:
Stir 1 cup of milk into the now cooked quinoa. Serve the quinoa in bowls and top with sauce.
Garnish with chopped basil, parsley, cilantro, or chives.