RECIPE: Quinoa…Keeen Whaaaa’? Q-U-I-N-O-A

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Quinoa with spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, and parmesan cheese, served with roasted potatoes.

Q-U-I-N-O-A (pronounced “Keen-wah”) is perhaps the holiest grain of them all, in terms of health freaks, fanatics, vegans, and vegetarians. What’s funny is that this “grain” isn’t even a grain at all, but instead holds the title of “pseudocereal” being that it is a species of goosefoot, a grain-like crop that is grown primarily for its seeds. What’s even weirder than the afore-stated information is that this stuff (unlike much other “health” food) actually tastes good – no, not just good, but great, awesome, delicious, stupendous, if you will. If prepared correctly, quinoa has a nutty flavor, which supersedes the bland qualities of rice and pasta, and instead lends flavor to any of the vegetables, cheeses and spices that you’d like to scatter within it. What’s even better about all that info.? The fact that quinoa truly is a very healthy food item, being that it has a very high protein content, a healthy handful of amino acids, and contains a tasty source for iron, dietary fiber, and magnesium. No wonder the Incas referred to quinoa as the “mother of all grains.”

So how does one go about cooking this stuff? The key to cooking quinoa is in the prepping steps:  it’s important to soak and rinse the quinoa in water before you actually cook with it in order to wash away the bitter-tasting coating of saponins that naturally occur on the grains. Now, most quinoa that is sold in North America has been rinsed for you, but I strongly suggest that you rinse your quinoa anyway, just to be sure that you don’t accidentally swallow a mouthful of bitter…um…pseudocereal bits…

Once the quinoa is cooked, however, the possibilites are truly endless. I was introduced to this grain when I lived in England, and because of my close proximity to the local farmer’s market I would basically throw in any vegetable I had picked up and would usually turn out a good quinoa dish. Go ahead and add anything you’d like (within reason of course) and I’ll guarantee you, too, will come out with a delicious meal in the end.

Quinoa with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Portabellos

Get This:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4-5 cups baby spinach
  • 2 cups baby portobello mushrooms
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Now Do This:

  • Place the quinoa in a large bowl and cover the quinoa with water until the grains are covered. Set aside for a half-hour to an hour.
  • Drain the quinoa in a finely meshed colander.
  • Bring the two cups of water to a boil adding salt to season and add the quinoa. Cover the grains at a low simmer for about 14-18 minutes.
  • While the quinoa is cooking sautee the mushrooms, garlic and spinach with olive oil, salt and pepper, until cooked through; about 8 minutes.
  • When the quinoa is finished it should be light and fluffy, almost resembling couscous. Combine the cooked quinoa with the sauteed vegetables, grate the parmesean on top, and incorporate the fresh tomatoes.
  • Eat. Enjoy.
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