Looking for quinoa recipes? Not really sure what quinoa is or how to cook it?
Although it’s called a grain, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is technically not a grain, but actually the seed of a leafy plant related to spinach. It was originally grown by the Incas who considered it sacred. They believed it increased strength and stamina and fed it to their warriors.
Is it any wonder it’s enjoying such a resurgence in popularity as we re-
discover its health giving properties.
Quinoa comes in various colors, but white, red and black are the most common. The grains are small, in fact it looks much like couscous. As the grain cooks the center seed becomes translucent and soft then the outer germ separates from the seed resembling a white ring.
Quinoa is quick and easy to prepare. In fact it’s cooked in a similar fashion to brown rice, using the absorption method. But it cooks much more quickly than brown rice.
Does quinoa need to be soaked? Packaged quinoa has most likely been pre-soaked to remove the bitter tasting outer coating. This outer coating, called saponin, forms a natural barrier as a deterrent to birds, and must be soaked off before cooking.
If you can’t determine whether it has been pre-soaked, soak one cup of quinoa in two cups water for 5 – 10 minutes. Then drain and rinse.
Place the grains in a fine mesh strainer. Then rinse under cold running water for 30 seconds or until the water runs clear. The grains are very small, so anything larger and the grains will simply wash away.
Add 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups of cold water to a large saucepan.
Cover with a lid and bring to the boil over a medium heat.
When it has reached boiling point, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 12 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed and the grains are tender. (Remember that the red and black varieties will require a few extra minutes.)
Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for about 5 minutes.
Remove the lid and fluff the grains gently with a fork.
For a slightly nuttier flavor, try toasting the quinoa first. To do this place in a hot dry pan and toast for 1 – 2 minutes. Then cook as normal.
Quinoa is very versatile and can be used in salad recipes the same way you would use rice, couscous or pasta. Or use it to stuff vegetables and meat or add it to soups, stews, curries and pilafs.
Quinoa flakes can be used instead of oats to make porridge, or added to baked goods such as muffins, breads and cookies.
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