Saturday, October 01, 2005

Experimenting with Quinoa

I was interested to read that quinoa (pronounced "kin-wa"), a grain from Ecuador used since the time of the Incans, was so high in protein-- up to 12 grams in a serving. It also has fiber and vitamins A & C, making it a kind of super-grain. I bought some from Whole Foods and decided to start experimenting with recipes. The first recipe I tried was a slight improvisation based on a recent article in Runner's World. It was kind of a quinoa pilaf that has a lot of vitamins and protein in it. I made it as an accompaniment to London broil, but it could have stood on its own as a filling veggie lunch.

First I heated a bit of olive oil in a saucepan, then sauteed 3/4 cup quinoa until it was golden and toasty. I covered this with 1 1/2 cups chicken broth and cooked it for fifteen minutes, while in another pan I sauteed a few tablespoons of onion and two garlic cloves in olive oil. At the end I added about three cups of fresh spinach and a diced plum tomato, along with a dash of salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. When the spinach had reduced in size and the quinoa was cooked, I mixed everything together along with 1/4 cup pecorino romano cheese.

Results: I really liked the consistency, which was crunchy and fell somewhere between bulgur and couscous in appearance. The quinoa also tasted delicious. BUT-- it had a slightly weird smell to it that reminded me of cauliflower-- not entirely appealing. Sometimes I smell things that aren't there (ancient head injury, long story), so it could have been in my imagination. And my husband loved it. So I will keep experimenting and report tasty quinoa recipes as I find them, since obviously it's really good for you.

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