There may be some of you out there who don’t want one more healthy idea from me, but honestly, you’ll thank me for this!
I assume you have had quinoa – pronounced ‘keen-wa’ – sometime in the past or recent past. It seems to be turning up everywhere Foodies congregate: salad bars, delis, restaurants. It is one of those magic foods that can appear in all parts of a meal and at all meals from breakfast to a satisfying comfort-dessert. That is provided you treat it well and cook it with enough flavor to make it sing.
It is fabulously healthy. It is not only high in protein, it is actually a complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids and is especially well-endowed with the amino acid lysine, essential for tissue growth and repair.
It also packs in a host of other health-building nutrients. One internet source claims that because quinoa is a good source of manganese as well as a good source of magnesium, folate, and phosphorus, it may be especially valuable for persons with migraine headaches, diabetes and atherosclerosis. And it’s gluten free!
Ground rules for preparation are similar to rice or other grains, although quinoa is actually a ‘seed’ (it is actually related to beets and spinach) Quinoa has a natural coating called saponin which keeps pests away from it, but can leave a bitter after taste. Most quinoa you buy has been rinsed but it is a good idea to rinse it for a minute or two to get whatever might be left that has a funky flavor. And it comes in colors: white, red and multi-colored, and there are plenty of organic quinoas on the market.
Proportions of quinoa to liquid are 1 part quinoa to 2 parts liquid.
So here’s the trick: add plenty of flavor to the liquids you use. I have used cumin and cinnamon and half orange juice, half water. You use wine or other juices. The quinoa pudding recipe uses milk but you can also use almond milk or coconut milk.
Try these 3 unusual recipes and quinoa will wind up playing a healthy role in your cooking life.
Quinoa Eggplant Cariar
This is a surprising and fabulous idea: mixing roasted eggplant with quinoa. .
1 large eggplant
2 cups cooked quinoa*
2 cloves garlic crushed
½-1 bunch cilantro
1 can diced green chilies – (use mild California ones)
Juice of 2 limes
1 t. ground cumin
¼ t. green tabasco or other hot sauce
*I cooked the quinoa with crushed garlic, cinnamon, cumin and half orange juice/half water. You can just cook it in water or broth. Use twice the amount of liquid to the quinoa. (And remember to rinse it well!)
- Roast eggplant until soft in oven (400 degrees for an hour – it will totally collapse). Cool and take skin off.
- Pulse the garlic, cilantro, chilies, cumin and lime juice until mixed. Add the egg plant and quinoa and process until well blended. It will look like guacamole but have a lighter texture.
- You can add tomatoes, green onions or other spices – oregano or parsley – taste until it has the right blend of flavors. Chill and serve as dip or side dish.
Makes 4 cups.
3 cloves garlic
1 bunch green onions
1 cup fresh mint
1 cup Italian parsley
Juice of 1 –2 lemons
4-5 small tomatoes – I used the small pearl ones
Salt and pepper
Optional – ¼ t. hot sauce
2-4 cups cooked quinoa-red or white
- Rinse quinoa
- Cook quinoa – double the liquid to the amount of quinoa (you can add lemon juice or orange juice to the water for more flavor)
- Chop rest of ingredients in processor until chunky but enough so the garlic is well incorporated.
- Mix herbs with quinoa, taste for balance
3 C milk (you can substitute almond or coconut or other milk)
¼ C water
2 t. vanilla
¼ C sugar
½ t cinnamon
½ t nutmeg
1 t grated fresh ginger
1 cup quinoa
Chopped nuts – pistachios, almonds, whatever you like
Diced strawberries or other fruit – you can use freeze-dried fruit as well
- Rinse quinoa in cold water for a minute
- Combine all ingredients except quinoa in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.
- Add quinoa and stir.
- Reduce heat to medium low and cook for about 30 minutes, partially covered.
- Stir often to avoid sticking. (If skin forms on top, just stir it back in)
- If too dry, add more liquid and cook covered a few more minutes
- Let cool to room temperature or chill
- Serve with chopped nuts and fruit
Graphic credit: NatureMomBlog