COOKING SCHOOL 101. Aug 16, 2010

Quinoa Protein Power

In an effort to expand my understanding of grains and legumes I was recently educated about an incredible grain called quinoa (keen-wah). My introduction and relationship with quinoa has been bitter and cold, usually this is the manner in which it is served and tastes. So when I attended my cooperative garden potluck and tasted some warm, mustard flavored quinoa that reminded me a lot of couscous, I struck up conversation with the cook. We are currently growing our own quinoa in the garden and it takes a lot of effort to wash the grain free of saponins, which can make the grain taste bitter. Luckily, my food co-op has some processed quinoa in bulk and I decided to experiment with the red variation because I liked the color.

This grain takes less effort and prep time than rice. It can be eaten plain or dressed in a variety of sauces and vegetables. The wonder of the grain is it contains all eight amino acids(proteins) and is a nutrient-dense grain perfect for those who wish to obtain their protein in sources other than meat. It contains about 15 grams of protein per serving. I used homemade chicken stock I had waiting in the freezer instead of water. Once the grain was cooked I mixed in fresh cooked peas and stone ground mustard with some salt and pepper. More recipes using quinoa will inevitably be on the site at a future date.

Rinse quinoa with water and drain. Place rinsed quinoa, salt and water in 2-quart pot. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15-20 min. DO NOT stir the grain while it is cooking. The key to properly cooked quinoa is the air pockets it naturally creates when cooking and stirring breaks up these pockets. You can test to see if the grain is finished cooking by tilting the pan to one side, make sure all the water has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork before serving.

This grain is an excellent starter for babies 6 months and older. Add a small amount of breast milk or water and run through the blender. Terrific source of protein for little ones!