Quinoa. Say what, you ask? KEEN-wah. If you haven’t tried it yet it is my challenge to you this week to make quinoa. I dare you not to fall in love.
This nutty, super seed originated in South America and was so important to the Incan culture they referred to it as ‘the mother of all grains”. Quinoa is in fact a seed. While relatively new to the United States, nutrition experts have been quick to sing its praises. And rightfully so. It is a complete protein loaded with all eight of the essential amino acids. High in protein, fiber and amino acids this super seed is also gluten free. As if that wasn’t enough, quinoa is also a good source of calcium, iron and vitamins E and B. Now will you try it?!?!
Quinoa is usually found in the bulk section of your grocery. I know Whole Foods and Central Market have it. Sadly, my HEB hasn’t added it yet to its new bulk section. It’s a cinch to prepare and its uses are so versatile you’ll want to try it savory and sweet. It can be used for breakfast like an oatmeal or as a side dish like couscous or rice. You can even bake with quinoa. Stock up and I promise it will become a staple in your home.
Tonight I roasted chicken with a million cloves of garlic. And created a quinoa side dish with ingredients I had on hand. Quiona seeds are coated with a substance called saponin which can taste bitter if not removed. The seeds you purchase will most likely have been rinsed thoroughly but I like to rinse them again at home. For tonight’s dinner I used 1 cup of quinoa. I measured out the seeds and rinsed them in a strainer.
The general rule of thumb for cooking quinoa is to use a 2:1 ratio of liquid to grain. I used 2 cups liquid and 1 cup quinoa. I used 1 1/2 cup of chicken broth and 1/2 cup water. There is no magic to this concoction I simply had 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth in the fridge and needed to use it up. Plus I like the subtle seasoning the chicken broth gives the quinoa. You do want to stick to the 2:1 ratio though.
I added the rinsed quinoa to the boiling chicken broth, stirred, reduced my flame to low, covered and simmered for 15 minutes.
After the quinoa was cooked (all the water was absorbed), I added:
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup peas
Try it, you’ll like it! Be bold with your quinoa experimentation and then send me your recipes. I’m anxious to hear what you come up with.