Quinoa With Caramelized Onions and Green Peppers

This recipe is so simple that you might wonder why it merits a post of its own. But I wanted to put it up because quinoa, despite its rapidly rising popularity, is still an unfamiliar grain to many. I know it was to me until just a couple of years ago. It sat in my pantry for months before I could muster up the courage to cook it, because– frankly– I had no idea what to do with it.

But when I did try it, I was more than pleasantly surprised. Quinoa has a nutty, sweet, creamy flavor that’s almost addictive. It’s easy to see why the Incas adored it so much that they called it the “mother grain” and fed it to their warriors to keep them strong.

More recently, I’ve heard everyone from my doctor to TV chefs champion it. Quinoa is packed with protein– in fact, it’s perhaps the only grain that’s a complete protein. It is also rich in iron and other minerals. All those characteristics make it valuable in any kitchen, but particularly so in a vegan or vegetarian kitchen.

Most often, I just substitute quinoa for plain rice. I cook up the quinoa and serve it with dal or sambar or whatever we’re having that day, and it’s perfect. It can also make a great substitute for rice in prepared rice dishes. Meera a while back posted a quinoa version of Vangi Bhath that is delicious.

Before you cook your quinoa, you want to make sure you rinse your quinoa thoroughly with warm water. This is to get rid of a natural substance called saponin that coats each grain and is meant to repel pests. And here’s one secret: do not, whatever you do, use the 2 cups of water to 1 cup ratio that many quinoa recipes ask for, because that’s the surefire way to make your quinoa all mushy. Instead, use a roughly 1: 1.5 ratio. For the recipe below, which makes the most perfect, fluffiest quinoa, I use 2.5  cups of water for 1.75 cups of quinoa.

I used caramelized onions and green peppers to spice up my quinoa, but this is a blank slate so feel free to add any veggies you please. You could even crumble up one of those fake meats into it for more flavor, or add chickpeas or any other bean.

Here’s the recipe. Enjoy, all!

Quinoa With Caramelized Onions and Green Peppers

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups of quinoa, rinsed

2 1/2 cups of water

2 very large red onions, halved and then sliced very thin crosswise

1 tbsp sugar

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 large green peppers, thinly sliced into 1-inch strips

2 tbsp chili sauce (use ground black pepper or chipotle powder for delicious variations. I like the smoky flavor from the chili sauce.)

1 tsp olive oil

Place the rised quinoa and the water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and cook until most of the water is absorbed.

Slap on a tight-fitting lid on the quinoa, turn the heat to low, and let it cook for 15 minutes more. Turn off the heat.

In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and sugar and saute over medium-low heat about 10-15 minutes until the onions turn a caramel-brown and soft.

Remove the onions from the saucepan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

To the same pan, add the green peppers and garlic and saute until the peppers turn tender but are still crunchy. Stir in the pepper.

Fluff the quinoa with a fork to separate the grains, and add to the saucepan along with the onions. Stir everything together and turn off the heat.

Serve with any spicy curry. I served it with my Spicy Braised Sweet Potatoes.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Comments

  1. says

    I love quinoa; have you tried the other varieties? In my supermarket, they have white, black and red. I’ve tried them all; they all taste the same, so I buy the red because it’s the prettiest :)

  2. says

    Quinoa (Keen wa) is a great grain as you stated, especially with its protein profile. Regrettably, Quinoa is not readily available in my area, but you can prctically always substitute it for rice in many recipes. I love vegetables, your stuff is good. I love rice, whose protein profile is complemented by legumes. Couscous (a pasta) is good too.
    Thank You.

  3. says

    I really like quinoa and have tried it hot, cold (like a tabbouleh) — and the way they make it where I was born, almost like a rice pudding. Try it cooked it with almond milk, brown sugar, and then add some nuts and raisins for a power-packed breakfast or dessert!
    Thanks for another great recipe!

  4. lola says

    I love quinoa. Sadly, it turns out that it’s popularity has lead to, among other things, permanent soil
    impoverishment in some areas of the Andes; negative impacts on llama and sheep farmers; skyrocketing prices, which means that the locals in Peru cannot afford to buy it; and conflicts in small, local communities. I don’t know if my conscience allows me to buy quinoa anymore.

  5. says

    Rajani, thanks!

    Mihika, I’ve not tried the red, but now I really want to buy it. It’s going on my shopping list!

    Anthony, thanks, and yeah, it’s a great substitute for rice. I love couscous too.

    GlobalRovingReporter, what a great idea! Thank you– it sounds delicious and I am going to try this sweet version for sure.

  6. says

    Iola, that’s interesting, and it didn’t cross my mind this time but I do remember reading about this in other parts of Latin America. Thanks for reminding us of the importance of being socially conscious with our food choices.

    Divya, Priya, Thanks.

  7. says

    Vaishali,

    Quinoa is something I started eating a few years ago, and I wondered why I waited so long. I have made soup with it and now I will make your recipe next time!

    I am always famished when I read here! :-) lovely pictures and like the site look very much.

    Preeti

  8. Anonymous says

    Hi vaishali,

    This is something new for me as have never heard the name and the recipes too. Although it does looks healthy and tasty. Its been pretty long time to have some delicious recipes from you. I wanted some link on weights and measures used for cooking for ex. 1 cup = how many mls, gms etc. similarly fro the other measurements that are commonly used in cooking, baking etc. In the recipe of whole wheat laadi pav of yours what is the substitute for wheat gluten?

    Bye, god bless,
    Nisha from mumbai

  9. says

    Thanks for this wonderful post on Quinoa! I guess one can try it with vegetable broth, instead of water as well, eh? I am waiting to try this recipe.

  10. says

    Nisha, there is no substitute for wheat gluten– if you can’t find it, just replace half the whole-wheat flour with all-purpose flour. If you make an all-whole-wheat bread without the gluten, it will end up too dense and heavy and rather inedible.
    About your other question, there are some online resources that can help with weight conversions. Here’s one: http://www.onlineconversion.com/weight_volume_cooking.htm.
    Hope that helps. :)

    Skay, Absolutely! Broth would be even better here than plain water. If I don’t have broth, I sometimes use a low-sodium vegetable bullion cube. Good to see you back– hope you had a great trip to Bombay.

  11. Anonymous says

    Hi Vaishali,

    Thanks for your help. I would try that. thanks for the link. Its been a long time that u have come up with any new innovative recipe!

    Bye,God bless.
    Nisha.

  12. Anonymous says

    Hi vaishali,

    m here to bother you again. What is the difference between all purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour and white whole wheat flour? This leaves me confused every time I come across any recipe that uses their combinations. Kindly help.

    God bless,
    Nisha.

  13. says

    Nisha, I’ve been really busy at work, but hope to blog more frequently now. :)
    About your question about the difference between the flours, the main difference is the types of wheat used, and the parts. White whole-wheat flour is made with a lighter colored spring wheat while regular whole-wheat flour is made with red wheat. White whole-wheat and regular whole-wheat would perform similarly in baking, except the white whole-wheat has a lighter texture and flavor. Whole wheat pastry flour is made with a soft wheat that has a lower protein content and less gluten, which makes it perfect for baking. All-purpose flour is highly refined, unlike the whole-wheat versions. That means that the outer coating– the bran– and the embryo–the germ– are removed before it is milled. This makes it lighter and milder-tasting, but it is not as good for you nutritionally as whole-wheat would be because it lacks fiber.
    I had addressed the difference between the various flours in this post: http://www.holycowvegan.net/2009/09/whole-wheat-french-bread-step-by-step.html

  14. Anonymous says

    Hi vaishali,
    i wanted to know what is the difference between all purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, and white whole wheat flour. I have come across your recipes which uses their combination and m left confused. also, do use the weights and measures based o the online conversion link given by you, for ex. 1 cup=240gms, 1cup=250 ml, etc. As I understand that baking needs almost perfect measurements and right proportions of the ingredients. M bothering u with this query because 3-4 months back i tried baking couple of pizza base and breads, and they turned out to be disaster. After that till date i dare not try to bake anything. That time i was not aware about the holycowvegan site. But since the time i am going through your recipes, i once again feel motivated.

    kindly help,
    nisha.
    God Bless

  15. says

    Nisha, I had posted a reply to your query about the flours but it got deleted when Blogger crashed over the weekend. Here it is again:
    The main difference between the flours is the types of wheat used, and the parts. White whole-wheat flour is made with a lighter colored spring wheat while regular whole-wheat flour is made with red wheat. White whole-wheat and regular whole-wheat would perform similarly in baking, except the white whole-wheat has a lighter texture and flavor. Whole wheat pastry flour is made with a soft wheat that has a lower protein content and less gluten, which makes it perfect for baking. All-purpose flour is highly refined, unlike the whole-wheat versions. That means that the outer coating– the bran– and the embryo–the germ– are removed before it is milled. This makes it lighter and milder-tasting, but it is not as good for you nutritionally as whole-wheat would be because it lacks fiber.
    I had addressed the difference between the various flours in this post: http://www.holycowvegan.net/2009/09/whole-wheat-french-bread-step-by-step.h

  16. Anonymous says

    Thanks vaishali for taking the trouble again. Since we are presently posted in korukonda, Andhra Pradesh, I guess I will have to adjust with the All purpose flour(maida) and whole wheat flour(the regular gehun ka atta which I use for making chapatis). I hope it will yield the same result. My query regarding the measures and weights continues. Awaiting for your reply.

    Thanks once again,
    Nisha,
    God Bless.

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