I’m sure you knew this one was coming — you’ve only seen the confetti-like pearly grains (that are technically not grains, but it’s just so weird to say confetti-like pearly chenopods) accessorizing my dinner plates for the last three months. All I have to say is this: Once you’ve tried quinoa, you will forever question your couscous and rice habit — well, I guess I can’t speak for you, but those were the two default starches on the dinner plate that I was raised with. Quinoa is a complete protein (which is why it’s so popular among vegetarians), it’s gluten-free (ditto parents of children with wheat allergies) and so freaking delicious (ditto people who like freaking delicious things).
You know that rule about how you have to put something new in front of the kids 25 times before they try it? Well, if that is indeed the case, we are about a month overdue for the under-four-feeters to swallow a solid forkful of quinoa. I’m not exaggerating — they’ve seen us spoon up a side of it pretty much every other night all spring long.
My friend and Time for Dinner co-author Pilar makes a vat of quinoa on Sunday so all week long it’s ready to be mixed into salads or heaped on her sons’ plates. (Supermom alert.) The few times I’ve followed her lead, this has been a boon for quick lunches, when I can toss in cooked vegetables (asparagus, broccoli), nuts (walnuts, slivered almonds), cheese (feta, goat) and dried fruit (cherries, pomegranates) with a basic vinaigrette.
But the dish above, Quinoa with Spinach and a Fried Egg, is the dish that really kicked my love for quinoa to Friday Night Lights-levels of obsession. It took less time to make this meal (that I would have paid $20 for in a restaurant) than to heat up a frozen Trader Joe’s pizza. And yes, it’s true that this comparison falls slightly flat since my kids will actually eat a Trader Joe’s pizza. But you might have better luck than me.
Basic Quinoa Instructions
Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add 1 cup of quinoa and simmer, covered, until tender, fluffy, and water is absorbed — about 15 minutes. Let stand, covered, off the heat for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Yields about 4 cups cooked quinoa.
Quinoa with Fried Egg and Spinach (Makes 2 grown-up bowls)
Prepare quinoa according to above instructions (or instructions on the package). Scoop a cup of quinoa into each of your two bowls. (Save whatever quinoa remains for salads later in the week.)
In a small frying pan over medium-low heat, saute 2 tablespoons chopped onion in olive oil and a dash of sesame oil for about 3 minutes. Add two generous handfuls of fresh spinach and sautee until wilted. Add 1 teaspoon of soy sauce. If you have kitchen scissors, use them to chop the spinach while it cooks.
Remove spinach from frying pan and place on top of quinoa. In the same frying pan over medium heat, fry two eggs over easy. Place them on top of the quinoa and spinach. Drizzle a little more soy sauce on top (not too much). If you want some heat, add a few drops of sriracha.