Quinoa. What’s the fuss? How do you pronounce it? What can you do with it?
First of all —-it is pronounced keenwa. It is a relative of the Swiss chard, spinach and beet families and comes in three variations, red, white and black. No difference between them as far as I know, but it does answer the eternal question. “Does this come in other colours?”
Quinoa is packed with nutrition, with one cup containing 19% DV (daily value) folate and omega 3 fatty acids, 30% DV magnesium, 5gms of fibre, 8gms of protein and 15% DV iron. None of these elements is produced naturally by the body so we have to take them in in food form. What’s more it is gluten free—in short a wonder food—from Peru and Bolivia. In recent times usually found only in health stores, it is now available in most supermarkets worth their name.
Apart from all that, what really interests me is it tastes so good and makes a wonderful alternative to rice and pasta.
The general rule of thumb is to use 2 parts of liquid to 1 part of quinoa, bring to the boil and simmer till tender—about 15 minutes. Do not overcook or it becomes mushy. Rinse carefully before use in a very fine mesh strainer to get rid of any bitterness and do not add salt.
After cooking, drain and use as desired in salads, bakes of various kinds, or do what I think is a great way to get the best of both worlds, and use it as a kind of risotto. Using the best porcini mushrooms sautéed in butter , some white pepper, garlic, and a cup of white wine, coat the quinoa, add two or three cups of good chicken stock and simmer till done. Lavishly mix in plenty of real Parmesan and dig in—delicious.
And don’t let the fact that it is good for you put you off, the cheese and butter make up the guilt factor.
Words: Greg Landman