I first heard of quinoa in culinary school. This word appeared as an answer on a multiple choice quiz. The question was, “What is considered to be the mother of all grains?” Unfortunately, I had never heard of quinoa, and evidently had not done my required reading, and erroneously chose “wheat” as my answer. This mistake on the quiz, prompted me to go back and find out what this mysterious grain with the funny name was. What I learned is that quinoa was a staple in the ancient Incan diet. It is a great source of nutrition, in that it is a complete protein, and provides all the essential amino acids the body needs. Interesting information for sure, and I made certain that I got the “mother grain” question correct when it reappeared on my final exam.

I was later reintroduced to quinoa in the kitchen of Cancer Wellness. It provides abundant nutritional value, and is perfect for the many gluten-free participants who attend our classes. Chef Nancy uses this grain in many of her recipes, from soups to salads. I have grown quite fond of quinoa and love that it is a blank canvas that can be imparted with any number of different flavors.
This week’s recipe uses quinoa to showcase one of my favorite flavor combinations, lemon and basil. This dish can be served warm as a side or a main dish, as well as cold or at room temperature as a salad.
Lemon-Basil Quinoa with Cannellini Beans:

1 Cup Quinoa*

2 Cups Water

1 15.5oz Can of Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 Cup of Packed Basil Leaves

1/4 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Zest and Juice of One Lemon

2 Scallions, finely chopped

Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 12-15 minutes, until water is absorbed and quinoa stem pops out. Once cooked, cool slightly and combine in a bowl with remaining ingredients.
*Quinoa is cooked using the 1-2-3 method. Meaning, 1 cup uncooked quinoa + 2 cups water = 3 cups cooked quinoa.

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