Wednesday, October 22, 2008
QUINOA! It's an awesome super grain. Haven't heard of it? Don't worry, most people haven't. Pronounced KEEN-wah, this ancient grain originated in the Andes mountains of South America and was used to nourish civilizations there nearly 6,000 years ago!
So why exactly did the Incas call this food "The Mother of all Grains?". Well, for one, it's actually a protein. Quinoa has more protein in it than any other grain out there. You can eat it like rice or pasta (and prepare it as such), but it is actually delivering 14 grams of protein per 3.5 oz. so you can rest assured that when you eat this super food, it is providing you with the energy of a carb and the muscle building and body healing strength of a protein. (Plus, it leaves you feeling fuller longer, is gentle on the stomach, and cooks in only 15 minutes!)It contains many essential amino acids, as well fiber, magnesium, iron, and phosphorous. Rice, you don't stand a chance.
Whole Foods sells their own 365 variety of quinoa and most grocery stores and specialty grocers should have it as well. It looks like tiny round grains when raw and once cooked, the germ unravels from the seed and makes the cooked version look like little spirals. Make sure you rinse it before hand (you will need a fine seethe for this or you will lose your quinoa!) because quinoa has a natural protective coating on it that can make it taste bitter if not rinsed. Some varieties are pre-washed, and while a bit more expensive, can make it much easier because you can just throw it in the pot and cook it.
Want to learn more about Quinoa? Check it out here: Wikipedia
2 Cups Uncooked Quinoa
4 Cups Water
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
Put all above ingredients in a pot and cook on med-high until it begins to boil. Once boiling, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and serve. (Serves about 4-6 people)
Mediterranean Quinoa with Pesto
5 Cups Cooked Quinoa (use recipe above)
1/2 Cup Pesto (store bought or homemade is fine)
1 Cup Artichoke Hearts cut into small chunks
1 Cup Feta Cheese (or goat if you prefer)
1/2 Cup Olives
1/2 Cup Sundried Tomatoes
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
Combine all of the above ingredients in a large bowl and toss together. If quinoa is too dry after mixing together, use olive oil or more pesto to loosen it up. This can be served warm or cold as a salad. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. (Serves 4-6 People)