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Quinoa

shantihhh's picture

Quinoa (pronounced “keenwa”).  is an easy food to prepare, has a light, fluffy texture when cooked, and its mild, slightly nutty flavor makes it an alternative to white rice or couscous.

 Quinoa is a small  seed that in size, shape, and colour looks like a cross between sesame seed and  millet.  It is usually a pale cream-yellow color but some species may vary from  almost white through pink, orange, or red to purple and black.  I find no difference in the taste and colours of Quinoa, and since the natural is the least expensive that is what I buy.  The black is the most expenive at $5 a pound!

The grain itself seems to melt in your mouth. But the tiny bands offer just enough tooth resistance to create a minute crunch, affording a varied and pleasant sensation.

Grain
 Quinoa in the middle

The first step in preparing quinoa is to remove the saponins, a process that requires soaking the grain in water for a few hours, then changing the water and resoaking again, or rinsing it in ample  water.

I had read of quinoa but hadn't tried it until a few years ago and it was love at first bite.  It has a nutty flavour ,and is a blank convass just waiting for your choice of herbs or spices, nuts, dried fruits, veggies, or whatever you want.  One of my favourite ways to cook Quinoa is in Fat Free Chicken Broth with some saffran.  This is perfect with seafood and also chicken.

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Pilaf-Style Quinoa


1 teaspoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups quinoa
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
 

 salt  to taste

*optional pinch of saffran soaked in warm water

OR your favourite masala (curry mixtures)

1. In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes or until the grains are lightly toasted.

2. Pour in the stock (watch out for sputtering oil) and the salt. Bring to a boil, stirring.

3. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer the quinoa for 15 minutes, without stirring, or until the liquid is completely absorbed and the grain is


Cooked Quinoa

     

 

 

 

 

 

Like some of the other exotic grains, Quinoa isn't a grain at all but is technically a fruit.  I love quinoa hot or cold.  Leftover quino makes an awesome cold salad.


However, this bitterness has beneficial effects in terms of cultivation, as it is a crop that is relatively untouched by birds and thus requires minimal protection. There have been attempts made to lower the saponin content of quinoa through selective breeding in order to produce sweeter and more palatable varieties of the crop. However, when these varieties were introduced by agronomists to native growers in the high plateau, they were rejected after just one season. The growers returned to their traditional high saponin varieties, the reason being that despite the newer varieties giving 'magnificent' yields, birds had consumed the entire crop.

Quinoa, Pistachios, and dried cranberries with a lemon zest sauce. 

Quinoa  protein content (12%–18%) is very high. Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete foodstuff. This means that unlike wheat protein, one does not need to supplement it with complementary foods such as legumes containing the other essential amino acids. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten free and considered easy to digest. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered as a possible crop in NASA's Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration manned space flights.

Classified by the United Nations as a supercrop, quinoa can play an important role in our vegan/vegetarian (or any) diet. Quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids, is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron.

Sunshine Salad

Serving Size: 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 oranges, peeled, segmented, and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup baby carrots, sliced thin
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup salad dressing
  • 3 tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • lettuce leaves

for the dressing:

  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 3 tbs. orange juice
  • 2 tsp. grainy mustard
  • 1 tbs. corn syrup or maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Wash the quinoa in a sieve using cold water. Wash it well, as during storage it gets an oily coating which tastes bitter.
  2. Put the washed quinoa in a small pan. Cover with water and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, peel and finely slice the baby carrots.
  4. Chop the mint and make the salad dressing.
  5. When the quinoa is cooked, drain and place in a serving bow.
  6. Put the quinoa in the refrigerator to cool down.
  7. After 10 minutes- half an hour the quinoa is cool and you can add all the ingredients together.
  8. Mix well and return to the refrigerator to season.
  9. Serve the salad on a bed of lettuce, or alternatively in orange cups with a garnish of mint leaves.

Notes:

You could also use canned mandarin oranges as an alternative. They are milder than the fresh oranges but quicker when short of time.

Quinoa is a cereal grain from Peru, which is closely related to the amaranth; quinoa is in the Goosefoot family, Chenopodiaceae. The seed is about 1/8 inch in diameter. It is cooked and eaten much like oatmeal or used as a pilaf type grain dish.   It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal as it is not a grass. Its leaves are also eaten as a leaf vegetable, much like amaranth, but the commercial availability of quinoa greens is currently limited.  While no other food can, by itself, furnish all the essential nutrients for living, quinoa comes as close to being complete as many other foods from the vegetable and animal kingdoms. -- Al Durtschi

Quinoa Black Bean Salad
Serves 4   

Ingredients:

1/3 cup Quinoa
1 cup Water
1 tablespoon Olive oil
4 teaspoons Lime juice
1/4 teaspoon Cumin
1/4 teaspoon Ground coriander
1 tablespoon Fresh cilantro; finely chopped
2 tablespoons Scallions; minced
1 can (15 oz size) Black beans; drained
2 cups Tomatoes; diced
1 cup Bell peppers; diced
2 teaspoons Fresh green chiles; minced
1 dash each salt and pepper; to taste

Directions:
Rinse the quinoa well in a sieve under cool running water. In a saucepan, bring water to boil, add quinoa, cover, and simmer on low heat until all of the water is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 10-15 mins. Allow to cool for 15 mins.

In small bowl, combine oil, lime juice, cumin, coriander, cilantro and scallions. Stir in beans, tomatoes, peppers and chiles. Add cooled quinoa, and salt and pepper and combine thoroughly. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with lemon or lime wedges.


Since at least 3000 B.C., if not longer, the seed of the plant Chenopodium quinua has been a vital part of the Andean diet, used as a grain in baking, as well as being served in numerous dishes prepared by Aymara, Quechua and other indigenous peoples found throughout the Andean region. Yet, in spite of its nutritious value and hearty growth, in modern society quinoa has never enjoyed the mass appeal of grains such as rice or wheat.

Quinoa Black Bean Timbale

INGREDIENTS

* 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
* 1 onion, chopped
* 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
* 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
* 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* salt and pepper to taste
* 1 cup frozen corn kernels
* 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned.
2. Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes,
3. Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro. 

In the last ten years there has been an increasing interest in quinoa as a healthy alternative to protein-rich foods such as beef or cheese. A growing export industry has developed as industrial countries begin to recognize the importance quinoa could play in providing a healthy and sustainable food source for centuries to come.As word spreads of this "supergrain," an industry has begun to bloom, offering the promise of sustainable economic development for those regions in the Andean highlands in which quinoa may be found. The current value of the quinoa export market from Bolivia is approximately $1 million per year. Quinoa exports may expand even further with increased demand on the world market, particularly due to unsuccessful attempts to grow a desirable crop outside of the Andean highlands.

Quinoa flour has a pleasant, nutty taste. It makes good tasting bread, muffins, bagels, pasta, milk, imitation nut butter, cookies, gravies, sauces, pancakes, flatbreads, doughnuts, and dumplings.  Quinoa pasta is light brown in color; when cooked, the pasta is the color of whole-wheat noodles and the consistency of regular noodles.


This lovely tomato quinoa spaghetti is so pretty!


There are about 1480 calories in one pound of quinoa flour or seeds.  The composition of the flour is approximately: 55.3% carbohydrates, 13.1% protein, 5.8% fat, 13.6% fiber, 9.3% water, and 2.9% minerals.


Quinoa may be germinated in its raw form to boost its nutritional value. Germination activates its natural enzymes and multiplies its vitamin content. In fact, quinoa has a notably short germination period: only 2-4 hours resting in a glass of clean water is enough to make it sprout and release gases, as opposed to, eg., 12 hours overnight with wheat. This process, besides its nutritional enhancements, softens the grains, making them suitable to be added to salads and other cold foods.

 I have read that quinoa is being grown in Tibet now as th Dali Lama is encouraging his people to eat more greens.  Other than that I do not know if quinoa is being grown in India or SE Asia or China.

Do give Quinoa a try.  Whole Foods carries it bulk as do many health food stores.  Even Trader Joe's has it private label.   I know quinoa is readily available in the UK, Europe, the US, and Canada. 

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3 Comments

Snigdha's picture
Great informations, pictures and recipes.
HotChef's picture
Love quinoa, use it in salads and as a side with vegetables and seasonings. It is a very healthy grain. Very popular in Europe. Try it with seafood. Brilliant!
Wapite's picture
Quinoa is so good for you, so many ways to prepare it, my students enjoy it instead of rice.