Keep on quinoa
Keep on quinoa
STIR IT UP! by Marialisa Calta
Quinoa is one of the happiest-looking foods around. I think it looks like happy, teeny bubbles — Champagne bubbles.
We all should be happy to have quinoa (“keen-wah”) on our plates. Kim Rizk, who wrote “Hay Day Country Market Cookbook” (Workman Publishing, 1998), called quinoa “a nutritional wonder.” It’s a complete protein, which means it contains all of the nine essential amino acids. It is higher in protein than rice, wheat or barley. It is also high in calcium and riboflavin and is gluten-free. It’s “one of the oldest grains on the planet,” Rizk says; quinoa nourished the Incas and is still grown in the Andes.
Though Rizk (and most people) call it a grain, quinoa is not a grain at all. It is related to beets, spinach and chard instead of the grasses from which cereal grains come.
You may be more used to finding quinoa in restaurants and at catered events than in your kitchen, which is a shame; it cooks up quickly and is no harder to make than rice. It’s also delicious, with a nutty flavor and appealingly chewy texture.
Here’s how to cook it: Cover 1 cup uncooked quinoa in cold water and let soak about 10 minutes. (Quinoa has a bitter coating that is usually removed after harvest. The soaking is an extra precaution to ensure there is no bitter residue.) Drain and rinse well. Place in a pot and cover with 2 cups cold water. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover the pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook 15 minutes, or until the quinoa seeds begin to open up and the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. You will have about 3 cups cooked quinoa.
You can substitute cooked quinoa for bulgur in tabbouleh, eat it like oatmeal for breakfast, or use it as a filling — along with vegetables, meats or cheeses —ùin wraps.
The recipes here come from Rizk’s book and an appealing and complex nutrition book called “Must Have Been Something I Ate” by Peggy Kotsopoulos (Oceanside Press, 2011). This book is a detailed and entertaining explanation of the connection between the foods we eat and the way we feel. This book has only a few recipes, but they will help the reader turn the information in the book into food on the plate.
Note: Roland Foods (www.rolandfoods.com) has come out with a line of flavored quinoa, including Roasted Garlic, Black Bean, Toasted Sesame Ginger and Lemon Curry.
MEDITERRANEAN QUINOA SALAD
Yield: 2 main-course servings or 4 side-dish servings
2 cups cooked quinoa (from 2/3 cup uncooked; see cooking note, above)
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Juice from 1/4 lemon, or to taste
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Refrigerate before serving.
Recipe from “Must Have Been Something I Ate” by Peggy Kotsopoulos (Oceanside Publishing, 2011).
Yield: 4 servings
8 white or cremini mushrooms (2 inches in diameter), caps and stems wiped clean
2 tablespoons walnut or olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 scant tablespoon minced garlic
1 small leek, white part only, washed and chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1/2 cup chicken stock or canned broth
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian (flatleaf) parsley
Pinch coarse (kosher) salt
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Separate mushroom stems from the caps. Finely chop the stems, measure out a generous 1/3 cup and set side. (Discard any leftover stems or save for another use.)
Brush mushroom caps inside and out with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Arrange caps, open side up, on a baking sheet.
Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, leek and reserved mushroom stems and saute until fragrant and tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the quinoa and chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in lemon juice to taste, then the walnuts and parsley, and season with salt.
Using a teaspoon, pack stuffing inside the mushroom caps, mounding it high. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of oil over the mushrooms and roast until they are hot and fork-tender, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.
Recipe from “Hay Day Country Market Cookbook” by Kim Rizk (Workman Publishing, 1998).