Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The many questions and mysteries surrounding QUINOA!

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa....pronounced Keen-wah or kee noh ah? That is usually the first discussion I have with people regarding Quinoa. I always stick with pronouncing it KEEN WAH!

The second discussion is usually on the topic of what is Quinoa? 
Well a quick Google will tell you that Quinoa is in fact a grain like crop and member of the seed family. It is native to South America and appears to be increasing in popularity across the world due to its associated health benefits. It is a very popular food for vegans and vegetarians due to the high protein content along with other high levels of vitamins and minerals. Although its popularity in the western world has received some negative attention due to the demand pushing the prices up in south america, leaving locals who rely on the crop not being able to afford it. Read about it here. 

How do I cook Quinoa?

The second discussion I have with people on the topic of Quinoa is How do I cook Quinoa? It either just sticks to the pan or comes out soggy, is usually what they tell me!
I have previously posted a great set of easy and quick instructions on how to cook quinoa. I learned how to cook it at a Blazing Salads's cooking demonstration. You can read about it here.

It's equal parts Quinoa to water. So 250g Quinoa to 250ml water etc.

1. Put the Quinoa in the pan along with boiling water salt and vegetable stock (optional).

2. Put the lid on the pot and leave it on (this is very important). Bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15
minutes. The trick is to leave the lid on as you are going to be steaming it.

3. After simmering  take it off the hob and just leave it to rest.

Tip!-I find that to make sure it doesn't stick to the pan or get too compressed, pick the pot up and shake the quinoa around the pot while holding the lid on.

Quinoa Recipe Ideas

Now onto Quinoa recipe ideas. I use Quinoa a lot across a wide range of dishes. I like to cook a large amount and keep it in a plastic container so it's ready to use with various meals.
You can add it to soups, stews, salads, burgers, sauces, dressings, cakes and more!

Quinoa Salads

My favourite use for it is using it for really tasty, fulfilling and healthy salads.

It's really easy to make a great quinoa salad using:
  • Roast vegetables  
  • Tofu/Roast Tofu
  • Toasted seeds
  • Green leaves
  • Chopped Salads
  • And whatever else you think tastes good!

Sweet chilled sweet potato quinoa and rocket salad

Flavouring Quinoa

Quinoa without any seasoning or dressing pretty bland and most people will agree! You can season it while cooking it but adding vegetable stock, salt or lightly frying garlic and onions before adding the quinoa to cook. 

My favourite dressings to use with Quinoa:
  • Soya Sauce
  • Happy Pear Sundried Tomatoe Pesto
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Beetroot Dressing
  • Chopped Parsley (any herb to your taste!)

Quinoa beyond Salads!

Sweet Potato Quinoa Burgers and Falafel Bites

You can make a vegi burger even healthier and more wholesome by adding cooked quinoa to the burger
mixture. Roast sweet potato, chick pea, kidney bean and quinoa burgers go great together and make a nutrient packed and seriously colorful burger!

Sweet Potatoes
Tin of chickpeas
Tin of kidney beans
Olive Oil

1. Cook as much quinoa as you want to add to the mixture (Increase the amount in accordance to the amount of burgers you want to make). 200g is a good start of measurement.

2. Roast your sweet potato, again as much or as little as you want in the burgers. Too much can make the mixture quite wet though. I cut the sweet potato into chunks, cover in olive oil, salt and lots of paprika. I also bake the sweet potato alongside with garlic!

3.Blend a tin or chick peas and a tin of kidney beans in a food processor (or whatever combination you want). Add the baked sweet potato to the blender and fresh coriander (or any herb you want) and blend until smooth.

4. Place the sweet potato and bean mixture into a bowl, add your cooked quinoa, a good handful of breadcrumbs and mix.

5. Shape the mixture into flat burgers or into small bite size balls (perfect for salads). Place on a baking tray and place into a hot oven and cook for aprox 20-30 mins or until the burgers aren't soft and wet.

Additionally add quinoa to your soups and stews! 
Has anyone else tried some different quinoa recipes?

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