Once again my daughter took my hand and lead me to greener pastures. This time the pasture contained quinoa (keen-wa), and it was a beauteous discovery. Now I see and hear about quinoa frequently or at least I’m conscious of what it is.
Quinoa is not a substitute for rice; I’ve found it be the other way around. It’s actually a seed although most folks describe it as a whole grain. It’s more “whole” than the other foods in that category such as rice, barley, and millet. Quinoa provides all nine essential amino acids, which makes it a whole protein. As a result, it provides the highest protein content of all whole grains.
When I first started using it as an accompaniment to rice, I used a boxed recipe with spices already added. It’s rather expensive in the regular grocery stores. I went to Whole Foods and found it in bulk in white, black, red, or mixed. I decided to buy the mixed variety because the black, in particular, still has the hull on the seed and removes slightly crunchy after cooking. It gives the quinoa a nice flavor.
Quinoa was the staple food of people in the Andes region of South America for thousands of years – perhaps because it’s quite simple to make and nearly impossible to ruin. Here’s the basic recipe I follow: bring two cups of water with salt to a boil; add one cup of quinoa and boil gently for fifteen minutes. Let rest before using for best results. Once made, you can spice it up, use cold in a salad, or use in a recipe as I did the other night when I made quinoa burgers.
2 cups of cooked quinoa (recipe above makes 2 cups)
¾ cup of your favorite cheese (I used goat cheese, but you could cheddar or Swiss)
½ cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 cup shredded and squeezed dry zucchini (or 1 carrot, finely grated)
3 TBLS flour
1 onion, chopped
½ tsp sugar
¼ tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder
olive oil for cooking
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, except for olive oil. Heat pan or griddle. Take ¼ rounded cup of mixture and plop on the heated pan. Let it cook on one side for a few minutes. Flip burgers and smash them flat with spatula. Fry until golden on each side. Makes 9-10 burgers. Burgers freeze very nicely.
What’s your favorite way to eat quinoa?