Can we have a little heart to heart about quinoa? What are your deepest thoughts and feelings about it? Do you love it? Hate it? Does the texture make you shudder or do you crave the stuff?
I have heard from a lot of you lately that you really, really want to love quinoa but quite honestly, you are struggling and aren’t sure if everyone on the quinoa bandwagon is lying to your face about how good it is or if you are missing the quinoa-loving gene.
We’ve been official quinoa eaters (official meaning it has a permanent place in my pantry and we eat it in some form at least once a week) for upwards of a year now. I was a skeptic at the beginning. I first tried it in a sweet breakfast oatmeal-ish type recipe and…I…I just couldn’t. I was expecting creamy, soft oatmeal and instead I got an unexpected blast of not-oatmeal-quinoa texture that I wasn’t adequately prepared for. I had to step away from it for a month before I dared again.
But once I tried it in a few savory dishes, it started to grow on me and my family. In fact, I make it alongside rice anytime we are serving a stir-fry or gravy-type dish and the majority of my family chooses quinoa over rice now (I mentioned that here a while ago). These little quinoa patties are food from the heavens and are my go-to if other dinner plans fall through or it’s leftover night without any leftovers. I can’t even count the variations we’ve made with them (added spinach or kale, swapped out different cheeses, changed up the spices, etc.). If I could give anyone advice about quinoa, it would be to keep trying. I am a total quinoa success story (and you can be, too!).
The recipe I’m sharing today is perfect for those who may be starting out as newbies in the quinoa world as well as for the more experienced quinoa eaters. First of all, it’s simple. All the ingredients except the last three are thrown in the slow cooker which means there’s no need to cook the quinoa beforehand – it plumps to quinoa perfection in the slow cooker along with the other hearty, nutritious ingredients. After stirring in cream cheese, fresh lime juice and cilantro, you have an exceptionally delicious creamy pot full of love and quinoa goodness. Plus, the quinoa melds with all the other ingredients into a tender mess of yumminess so the texture is almost unnoticeable.
I’ve made this three or four times, once as a contribution to a potluck and also as a main dish meal for our family. I said this last week, but even though it’s summer and the weather is heating up, I still use my slow cooker all the time because it keeps my kitchen much cooler than turning on the oven. This is a delicious, perfect meal for those that don’t have a lot of time to cook it, plan it, or slave over it. Plus, it’s so tasty, you’ll be wondering where quinoa has been all your life.
Fresh Green Bean Salad
Tortilla chips (baked or regular)
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels
- 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced or petite-diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 cup quinoa, well-rinsed and drained
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 4-8 ounces light or regular cream cheese, cubed (depending on how creamy you like it)
- Squeeze of fresh lime juice
- Handful of chopped fresh cilantro
- In a 4- or 5-quart slow cooker, toss the chicken, corn, black beans, tomatoes and quinoa together.
- In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the broth, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the ingredients in the slow cooker and give it all a good stir (scrape down any quinoa that may be stuck to the sides of the slow cooker above the liquid).
- Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
- Toss in the cubed cream cheese and cover the slow cooker for 5-10 minutes to let it soften.
- Stir all the ingredients together until the cream cheese is mixed in well.
- Add the lime juice and cilantro and give it another quick stir.
- Serve warm with tortilla chips.