Friday, October 16, 2009

New Recipe: Black Quinoa with Caramelized Onions and Turkey Sausage

I had the inspiration after reading about black quinoa to add a little more to my diet. I love quinoa and millet and lots of other ancient grains, so it's fun to try new things. According to The Splendid Grain by Rebecca Wood, quinoa was revered by the ancient Mayans. They called it the "sacred mother of all grains" and prized it for its high quality nutrition, including a complete protein file, iron, phosphorous, B vitamins, zinc, potassium, calcium, and vitamin E. The World Health Organization considers quinoa to be the nutritional equivalent of the protein balance of cow's milk, the highest protein content of all grains at 20%. Millet and hard spring wheat following closely after.

The other fantabulous fact about quinoa is due to the calcium oxalate crystals packed into the tiny shell, quinoa is severely drought tolerant and can withstand solar radiation in places on earth where nothing else survives. Quinoa can grow on peaks of 14,000 feet and higher. A little washing and drying removes the outer protective coating and we have a delicious and nutritious little powerhouse.

So, here's an enjoyable new recipe to try out this little morsel and discover for yourself.

Happy eating!

Black Quinoa with Caramelized Onions and Turkey Sausage
Serves 4

1 cup black quinoa, washed (or any quinoa variety)
1 ½ cups water
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp salt
1 tsp garlic (or garlic blend)
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ cup onion, sliced into long strips
1 tbsp honey or cane sugar
½ cup sweet potato, diced
½ cup turkey sausage, diced
½ cup zucchini, diced
½ cup fresh or frozen peas
Oil for sautéing
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash quinoa thoroughly, as directed on package, or if buying in bulk until water runs clean. Add to large saucepan with water, cumin, salt, garlic and smoked paprika. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. Reduce heat and allow to simmer until water is absorbed about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large cast iron or saute pan on medium heat. Add a small amount of oil to pan and onions. Cook onions until almost translucent, about 4-5 minutes, then add honey or sugar. Coat evenly and allow onions to continue to caramelize.

If your pan is large enough, push onions to one side and place sweet potato chunks on opposite side, making sure there’s enough room not to mix them just yet. If you need to use two pans, do so. Add a small amount of oil to sweet potatoes and mix, letting them brown just a little, about 2-3 minutes. Add turkey sausage. Mix potatoes and sausage to intermingle their flavors and continue to stir and cook another 5-6 minutes.

When potatoes and sausage are nearly cooked, add peas and zucchini and mix, keeping onions separate still. When quinoa is cooked and all remaining ingredients are soft and tender, give the quinoa a quick toss, then add onions, potatoes, sausage, peas and zucchini. Toss gently to mix, then serve.


· Use stock instead of water for extra flavor.
· Use a variety of other veggies for extra punch and crunch.
· Substitute millet, red quinoa or white quinoa for different textures and flavors.

Recipe courtesy of Michelle Hankes and

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