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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Quinoa

One of my semi-recent food discoveries is quinoa.  "What the heck is that?" you might ask.  Though in our house we like to joke and phonetically say "kin-OH-uh," it's actually pronounced like "KEEN-wah," and it's so good.  We have been making it as an alternative to rice, and we've also been adding it to salads to give them a little more depth of flavor.

Quinoa is eaten like a grain, but supposedly it's not technically a grain.  Unlike rice, it is a great source of protein (for those of you vegetarians and vegans out there).  It's gluten-free, and a good source of fiber and iron.

Ok, now how to get it.  You're going to go to your average grocery store, look around forever trying to find it, then when you finally find it with the "exotic" not-so-common grains, you'll find a Bob's Red Mill one-pound bag of this stuff for around $10-$12 (even at Wal-Mart!)  We stumbled upon it at our local organic grocery in the bulk foods section for only $3.99/lb!!  So I encourage you to go to (gasp) Whole Foods or other similar grocery stores to try to find it first.  You might be surprised at the low-cost at a place like this.  Our grocery is not a chain, so I'm not going to tell you to go there!

How to cook Quinoa:

You cook it JUST like rice!  See my previous post on cooking the perfect batch of rice.

In a nutshell:

  1. Rinse the dry quinoa 3 times
    1. put water in the put of quinoa
    2. rub it in your hands
    3. drain the water
    4. repeat
  2. Add a 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa
    1. use the finger trick by putting your finger to the bottom of the pot, half of what's covered should be quinoa, half should be water.
  3. Bring to a boil
  4. Reduce to a simmer
  5. Cover for 20-25 minutes (don't take the lid off!)
  6. Fluff with a fork or rice paddle
  7. Serve!
You will know when it's done by seeing what I call little "ant hills" in the pot.  This is what's different than rice.  I chuckled when I first saw the little ant hills because I certainly wasn't expecting to see them!







The first time we made it with just water like in my instructions.  However, cooking this in water is sort of bland, and you won't want to make it again if you were expecting something phenomenal.  We use chicken brother instead of water as a minimum.  We rinse with water, drain as much as we can, then fill up to a 2:1 ratio with chicken broth (or whatever kind of broth you prefer). 

There's no exactness to making quinoa, and it's sort of fun to get creative at what you can do with it.  I want to try making it with a thinned tomato sauce with sauteed onions and peppers next time!  ...maybe add a little bit of garlic and cumin (meaning I will consult Mr. P on new ideas and let him roll with it).

Here is a photo of the meal I ate with it, chopped salad with arugula, quinoa, rotisserie chicken, green and red bell peppers, celery, carrots, pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds), mango, and muenster cheese topped with a simple vinaigrette:



Hope you find it and make it!  ...or if you see it on a menu, just try it :D

Toodles.
J&H



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