Tired of rice? Try quinoa! Quinoa has a light, fluffy texture and a mild, nutty flavor after being cooked.
Liberty Market has nice fresh quinoa available (as well as quinoa flour). Be sure to thoroughly rinse the quinoa before cooking to remove the saponins, a natural protective compound produced by the quinoa plant. Saponins are not harmful but they do impart a bitter quality to the quinoa if not rinsed off.
After rinsing, quinoa can pretty much be treated just like rice. For simple quinoa, bring two cups (or a little less) of water to a boil along with one cup of grain. Lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the germ of the quinoa separates from the seed. The cooked germ looks like a tiny curl and should have a slight bite to it (as does pasta which has been prepared al dente). You can substitute vegetable stock for the cooking water for added flavor.
You can add just about anything to your quinoa. Eating it ‘as is’ with a tiny bit of butter and salt is quite tasty, although vegetables, tofu and seasonings can also be added to make a wide range of dishes. Quinoa complements bitter greens such as kale and collards, and makes a tasty, high protein, hot breakfast with the addition of a little honey, or some sugar and milk.
Here is a simple recipe for quinoa with a lively, south-of-the-border sort of taste:
Toasted quinoa with seeds
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 teaspoons light olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 16 oz. vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup pepitas OR shelled sunflower seeds, toasted*
- 3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup chopped scallions
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon unprocessed sea salt
Toast the quinoa in a large dry skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until it crackles and becomes aromatic (about 3 to 5 minutes). If possible, put the quinoa in a fine sieve and rinse off the quinoa (it has a natural, slightly bitter covering; if you have no fine sieve, don’t worry about it).
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened – about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the quinoa and broth; bring to a gentle simmer, cover and cook until the quinoa is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes.
Add pepitas or sunflower seeds, cilantro, scallions, lime juice and salt to the quinoa; mix gently and fluff with a fork. Enjoy!
*To toast seeds on the stovetop, toast in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 3 to 5 minutes.
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