Q. How do you pronounce “quinoa”?
Q. What the heck is it?
A. Technically, it’s a seed, but most folks treat it as a grain, like rice or barley. It was cultivated by the Incas in South America for thousands of years, and has gained popularity rapidly because it is versatile, easy to prepare and filled with stuff that is good for you. There are three kinds: white, red and black. White is the most commonly used and has a milder flavor than red and black.
Q. What’s it taste like?
A. It has a mild, somewhat nutty flavor.
Q. Why should I eat it?
A. Because it tastes pretty good and is wildly good for you. It’s one of those “super foods” healthy living websites like to chirp abut. It has lots of protein (8 grams in 1 cup cooked), fiber (5 grams per cup) and is a good source of iron. And, it is loaded with zinc, vitamin E, and selenium to help control your weight.
Q. How do I cook it?
A. Easily. But, first things first: be sure to rinse it; you want to be rid of the natural coating that can make it taste bitter. Then, essentially, treat it like rice. One cup of quinoa will give you three cups to serve. And, here is the best news for in-cab chefs: you can use your trusty Aroma to prepare quinoa; use two cups of liquid to one cup of quinoa. Many savvy chefs will use chicken stock — low sodium, please — instead of just water. Vegetable stock works well too. Be sure to add a bit of salt. Then feel free to try out some of the contents of your spice rack; maybe some fresh rosemary.
Q. Then what?
A. The sky may not be the limit when it comes to serving quinoa, but it offers a lot of options. Primarily, it is a great base for salads with just about anything added: nuts, berries, greens, radishes, cucumbers.
Q. Got a recipe?
A. Of course! We even have some sources for more.
Quinoa With Nuts & Berries
- 1 3/4 cups uncooked quinoa
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
- 2 cups water
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup dried sweet cherries, chopped
- 1/2 cup dry-roasted pistachios, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Rinse and drain quinoa. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until tender. Add 2 cups water, wine, and salt to pan; bring to a boil. Add quinoa; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Remove from heat; set aside, and cool slightly.
Combine remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, and pepper in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add quinoa, cherries, and remaining ingredients; toss gently to combine.