Here is a meal that I made last week for my family: quinoa chowder with spinach and feta. It’s pretty standard in our meal rotation, especially in winter. For those of you unfamiliar with quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), it is a small, edible seed about half the size of a grain of brown rice. It is grown from a plant that is mainly grown and harvested in South America. It has a very mild taste similar to brown rice but slightly nutty. It is a fabulous vegetarian protein source and we have been eating it regularly since we became mostly vegetarian over a year ago. My husband wrote a great article about quinoa on his blog EnduranceBuzz.com.
Where to Buy Organic Quinoa
You should be able to find organic quinoa in your grocery store, possibly in a box. Whole Foods sells it in bulk. We now buy our organic quinoa from Costco at a much better price. If you don’t find it at a store near you, organic quinoa can be found on Amazon.com.
Why You Will Love This Meal
- Gluten Free
- Can make in about 30 minutes (maybe not the first time, though)
- Serves six to eight (great for a big family, dinner guests, or leftovers the next day)
- 2 cups quinoa, rinsed well
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tsp ground cumin, or to taste
- salt and pepper
- onion powder
- 1/2 lb. boiling potatoes, in 1/4″ cubes and peeled
- 3 cups finely sliced spinach leaves (fresh or frozen)
- 1/2 lb. (8 oz) feta cheese, crumbled
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 hard boiled egg, chopped
Notes About Ingredients
The above list of ingredients is what I use to make this meal. I deviated from the original recipe in the following ways:
- I use two cups of quinoa; the original recipe uses just 3/4 cup. I wanted to increase protein and make the meal go farther.
- I left out the following ingredients: 1 jalepeño chile (seeded and finely diced) and scallions (I toss in some onion powder instead of scallions)
- Since I increased the overall quantity of the meal by increasing the quinoa, I doubled the feta, too. The original recipe calls for 1/4 lb. feta.
- Put quinoa and two quarts (eight cups) water in a pot, bring to boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- While it’s cooking, dice the vegetables and cheese.
- When the quinoa is done, drain the quinoa saving the liquid.
- Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and chile.
- Cook for about 30 seconds, giving it a quick stir.
- Add the cumin, 1 tsp salt, and the potatoes and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Don’t let the garlic brown.
- Measure the saved quinoa water and add more water to make six cups, if needed.
- Add that water to potatoes and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
- Add quinoa and spinach and simmer for three minutes more.
- Turn off heat and stir in feta and cilantro.
- Season the soup with pepper and garnish with chopped egg.
- Serves 6-8.
Since this is a pretty low fat meal, we always add a good tablespoon of olive oil to each individual bowl. (It’s very important to get plenty of healthy fats!)
Here is the finished product!
Note that I forgot to boil the egg until it was all done, and thus there is no garnish. *gasp* 😉 But I hope you get the idea anyway!
Why We Love This Meal
- Great vegetarian option, especially in winter.
- Love the kick of flavor the feta cheese provides.
- Relatively quick and easy to make, especially after you’ve made it once.
- Makes a lot of chowder, which means leftovers the next day, which means even EASIER!
Our almost-three-year-old son likes it, too! (Sorry about the caught-in-mid-bite photo, G-man. I owe you one!)
Wendy – ParentingTips365.com