The January/February 2008 issue of Everyday Food has a special section on quinoa, which is an ingredient with which I have zero experience. For those who don’t know, quinoa is “an amino acid-rich (protein) seed that has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and a somewhat nutty flavor when cooked” (whfoods.com). It looks a lot like couscous. I was able to find it in the bulk/”health food” section at Kroger, which was nice because I was able to take only the $0.88 worth that I actually needed for the Quinoa Muffins recipe.
First, I had to cook the quinoa. I rinsed 1 cup of raw quinoa and combined that with 1 cup of water in a medium saucepan. I brought that to a boil, reduced the heat to a simmer, covered the saucepan, and cooked the quinoa until it was tender and all water had been absorbed (12 minutes).
Meanwhile, I prepped my muffin pan. I decided to use my silicone muffin pan for this recipe since it releases food so nicely. I still followed the prep instructions in the recipe, though; I brushed the pan with vegetable oil, dusted it with flour, and then tapped out any excess.
Next, I combined my dry ingredients in a large bowl. I whisked together 2 cups of flour, 3/4 cup of packed dark-brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 cup of dried cherries (the recipe called for raisins). The quinoa had finished cooking at this point, so I whisked in 2 cups of that as well.
In a separate smaller bowl, I whisked together 1/4 cup of vegetable oil, 3/4 cup of whole milk, 1 large egg, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. I stirred the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined and then divided the batter among the muffin cups.
I put my silicone pan on a rimmed baking sheet (for stability) and baked the muffins for 26 minutes at 350 F, rotating my pan front to back at the 13-minute mark. I cooled the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes and then finished cooling them on a wire rack.
These muffins were dense and so, so delicious. I could absolutely see them as a brunch side at a restaurant. I don’t know if I would have liked them as much with raisins, but the dried cherries were fabulous and they really complemented the muffins’ strong vanilla flavor. I can’t wait to make these again!
TIPS: Don’t skip the rinse step with the quinoa. I guess it has a bitter coating that washes off with water. Who likes bitter muffins?
Also, make sure you actually measure out 2 cups of cooked quinoa rather than just dumping the entire cooked amount in. You’ll probably have more than you need.
Recipe link: Quinoa Muffins