The Easiest Cooking Method If You Want To Add Quinoa To Your Chili

Chili is a glorious one-pot dinner, beloved for its ability to be good every time (even if it's always a little different), its spicy kick (also variable by taste), and its heartiness. It's one of those dishes open to customized foundations and toppings. Some swear by a bed of buttered toast, a bowl of rice, or a big spoonful of noodles. Some might call those styles "rice and beans" or "cheesy mac. It's all divinely founded upon chili and its simple ingredients. There are chopped onions, shredded cheese, avocado, scallions, and corn chips for dipping. 

To streamline this favorite meal, the chosen grain or starch can be incorporated into the stew during cooking rather than prepared separately and placed underneath it during its serving. Protein-rich quinoa, in any of its three colors, is a great ingredient to add to classic beef chili, or it can be used as a superb stand-in for ground beef. It contributes welcome texture and a similar bulk. In addition, it requires little time on the stovetop. Plus, as a grain (that's technically a seed), quinoa absorbs the seasonings of the liquid it's cooked in. To take advantage of that, add it uncooked to a simmering pot of chili and let it soften and plump as the flavors meld. According to MasterClass, a dutch oven is the preferred cooktop vessel for chili because it distributes the heat evenly. But you'll still have to stir it consistently to ensure the quinoa doesn't settle on the bottom and scorch.

For low-maintenance chili, use a slow-cooker

While a Dutch oven is a good choice for stovetop chili making, per MasterClass, there's a better appliance for an easier, low-maintenance version that doesn't require vigilant stirring. A slow cooker offers an almost hands-free method once the ingredients have all been added. While it will take longer overall for the finished dish, the preparation and chopping are virtually the same, and the majority of its cooking time can be spent away from the kitchen — hence the number of slow-cooker devotees still going strong more than 50 years after its debut (via NPR). 

According to the slow-cooker quinoa chili recipe from Taste of Home, ground beef (which can be omitted for a vegetarian take), onions, and garlic should be sautéed in oil first. The rest is simple. The remainder of the ingredients all go into the slow cooker for four to five hours. Consequently, unless you have a model that sautés, it's not a one-pot meal. But it's arguably more hands-off, allowing lots of time to prepare the extra toppings and assemble a chili bar. It's still not too late to celebrate the kitchen convenience's golden anniversary with a slow-cooker chili party.