Southwestern Quinoa

Oct 1, 2008 at 10:42 p.m. ET

Try this light and easy quinoa meal as a tasty alternative to rice, pasta or potatoes. Feel free to build it ahead of time and store it in the fridge until you're ready to cook it in a fully-preheated oven. When doing this, remember to reserve the liquid and then add it right before cooking or you'll end up with a quinoa patty!

Southwestern Quinoa

Southwestern Quinoa

Serves 4

1 1/2 cup quinoa
2 cups broth or water
1 tsp. cumin
1- 1 3/4 lb. beef or turkey tenderloin
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 scallions, sliced into thin rounds
2 fresh green chiles, stemmed, seeded, chopped (Anaheim for milder palates; pasilla, poblano or jalapeno for a spicier meal)
2 small yellow summer squashes, halved, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
6-8 leaves kale or chard, destemmed, roughly chopped (about 4 cups chopped)

1. Preheat oven to 450F. Spray inside of 3 3/2- or 4-quart cast iron Dutch oven and lid with olive oil.

2. Pour in quinoa. Add liquid and cumin and stir to dissolve and evenly coat grains.

3. Set trimmed tenderloin in next and sprinkle with sea salt, scallions and green chiles. Layer in squash, followed by red bell pepper. Fill to the top with greens, making certain none hang over the edge.

4. Cover and bake for about 35 minutes, or until about 3 minutes after the aroma of a fully-cooked meal wafts from the oven.

My husband prefers this meal with a sauce such as salsa or gravy, while I appreciate the unadorned elements as presented here and the satisfied-but-not-stuffed way I feel after eating.

Quinoa is the only whole grain that is a complete protein as it provides all the essential amino acids in a balanced pattern. With more high quality protein than any other whole grain and wheat and gluten-free, quinoa (pronounced "keen-wa") is also light and delicate with a delicious nutty flavor that is perfect for summer weather.

Once the staple food of the Incas, the ancient Andean civilization respectfully referred to quinoa as the "Mother Grain".

Nutritional Analysis per serving: (based on using organic chicken broth and skinless turkey meat)
Calories 408, Protein 14g, Carbs 56, Fat 11g, Chol 86mg, Sod 553mg (268 if made with water instead of broth), Fiber 7g