I was first introduced to Quinoa (pronounced keen’ wa) over 15 years ago. It is an ancient Incan grain that is literally packed with nutrition. It contains protein (50% more than wheat) and more iron, phosphorus, Vitamins A, E and B, and more calcium and fat than other grains. Many people have tried Quinoa and declared it to be bitter and won’t eat it. It has a waxy type coating called saponin. This needs to be rinsed off. It usually takes more than one rinse to get it all off and you need to do the rinsing under running water. It is well worth taking the time to do this. You can purchase pre-rinsed Quinoa, which might be a good place to start if you have never tried it. It is the fruit of a plant that is related to Lamb’s Quarters. It will quadruple in size when you cook it. You can combine it with other grains like millet, bulgur or buckwheat to get other taste combinations. It can also be substituted for bulgur if you make tabouli.
I love Quinoa but don’t often think about cooking it. I found my jar of Quinoa way back in the pantry and it had gotten moths in it, so it became chicken feed. My co-op had a tri-color Quinoa on sale and so I bought several bags. It is so versatile that I like to cook a larger amount than we are going to consume with that meal. It leaves left overs I can use all week. I am going to share some of the ways that I use it.
The first night we had it, I used it in place of rice. I cooked 1 cup of quinoa with 2 cups of water. I had some left over round steak that needed to be used up. I cut it up into bite size pieces and cooked it in a bit of oil along with a lot of onion and garlic and green peppers. I added salt, pepper and some seasoned salt. After it was done, I added a little bit of plain yogurt to make it a sort of stroganoff type dish. I had already turned the heat off and just stirred the yogurt in and put a lid on it, so it would heat the yogurt with out making it curdle. There was a lot of juice because of the peppers and onions, so it was not as thick as stroganoff. I put some of the cooked Quinoa in a bowl.
I spooned some of the pepper mixture over the top and the juice made it even better. The picture at the top of this post is that meal.
The next morning, I heated up some of the quinoa and then put butter and a little real maple syrup over it. Oh my, it was so delicious and filling. I had a friend tell me to add apple chunks and cinnamon to that. I plan on trying that soon.
The next day I made myself a salad for lunch. I sprinkled some of the cooked Quinoa over that. It added protein, texture and flavor to my salad.
You can use it as a side dish like you would rice. It can be added to casseroles or soups. Put some in your smoothie. This is a great way to add some protein and nutrition to another dish.
Here is the Quinoa that I used. I also had questions about the little rings you see in the picture above. That is the germ ring and becomes visible when it is cooked.
I would love to hear different ways that you use Quinoa in your house. Please leave a comment below and share.