Quinoa is relatively unknown to the average consumer, but people who are extremely conscious of healthy nutrition know all about it. This incredibly healthy grain was the staple food of the Incas, and it originated in the mountainous region of Peru. Quinoa is pronounced “KEEN-wah” and is low in fat and free of cholesterol and gluten. The grain can be cooked and served in a variety of ways. Most people cook it in water until it expands from two to four times its original size. The cooked Quinoa may have a soft texture with a firm bite, and the cooking time can vary to suit your own personal preference. A delicious, nutty flavor makes this satisfying dish a favorite for people who need to restrict cholesterol or gluten in their diet.
Cooking with Quinoa is quite simple, and it can be combined with many condiments and vegetables. It can be served as a delicious side dish, or a satisfying main dish when it is served over steamed spinach or kale. It is essential to note that packaged grains like Quinoa should be carefully washed before cooking. A handy way to wash the small grains involves using a large sieve sitting in a larger bowl or pan. Add enough water to cover the grains and use your hands to wash off any dirt. Lift the sieve from the water and dump it before repeating this step two more times. An easy and delicious recipe for Quinoa Rissoto follows:
Killer Quinoa Rissoto
- 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 finely chopped red onion
- 3 minced cloves of garlic
- 2 C mushrooms, sliced or diced
- 1 diced red bell pepper
- 2 C dry quinoa, washed and drained
- 1-1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 3 to 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1/4 C chopped fresh basil, or 1 Tbsp dried basil
- 2 Tbsp dried oregano
- 1 Tbsp dried marjoram
- 1 Tbsp dried thyme
- Salt, pepper and red chili flakes – to taste
Using a large nonstick pan, combine the onion and olive oil and cook until caramelized. Add the garlic and saute about 1-2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute another 5 minutes. Add a little cold water and stir to prevent burning. Add the bell peppers, then add the quinoa. Stir constantly while the Quinoa develops its nutty flavor, about 5-10 minutes. Gradually add the remaining ingredients and stir well, scraping the bottom of the pan. Cover tightly and simmer from 40 to 60 minutes.
Until as recently as five years ago, Quinoa could only be found in some health food stores. As consumers become more aware of the many health benefits of the grain, it can be found at some retail grocers in white, red and black versions. Now that you are aware of this wonderfully healthy and tasty grain, look for it at your favourite store and enjoy creating your own delicious recipes.
Anthony is a chef at the Deckhouse Restaurant in Sydney, Australia. Anthony loves experimenting with new ingredients, and coming up with new recipes. Right now he can’t get enough of Quinoa, experimenting with it in rissotos, cereals, and even baked goods. Anthony is currently writing a Quinoa cook book to share all of his recipes.