Quinoa. What? Quin-o-a? No silly, KEEN-wa, my new favorite food. Quinoa is a grain, well actually not technically a grain but a seed of the goosefoot. Quinoa sounds much better than goosefoot seed. It was a staple in the Incan diet. They referred to it as the mother grain and it was considered sacred. At any rate, it’s my new go to side dish. I wanted a new side dish other than rice. I love rice, but it doesn’t love me. It’s how shall we put this? Binding! At 57 I don’t need binding. Quinoa also has the added bonus of being high in protein, amino acids, fiber, vitamins and just about everything except flavor. It’s a bit bland. It has a slight nutty flavor and a great texture though. It is also very easy to cook. One cup of quinoa to 2 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil, add the quinoa, a pinch of salt and simmer covered. Fifteen to twenty minutes later; done. Make sure you give it a shookle (shake or two) during cooking. Comes out perfect each time. Smart Incas!
Getting back to taste though. How to make it better? I first started by sautéing in the saucepan one medium diced onion in a tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Sweat the onions for a few minutes on medium heat. Add a few cloves of chopped or minced garlic. Cook the garlic for about 30 seconds, you don’t want it to brown and get bitter. Then add the water and quinoa. Simmer until done. Tasty. I also tried shallots and garlic, and leeks, scallions and garlic. I’m very onion-centric. The taste started to improve. I next substituted a cup of water with a cup of homemade chicken stock. Very nice. A bit richer taste. I tried an Indian curry style quinoa. I added two teaspoons of Penzys sweet curry powder for each cup of quinoa. That was particularly delicious. Naturally you can adjust the spices to your tastes.
As you can see, the possibilities are endless. I buy Bob’s Red Mill because it’s the only kind I can find in my area. I’m sure if I went to a health food store I might be able to find some other brand but Bob’s suits me fine. The downside is it’s not cheap. I buy mine at of all places Ocean State Job Lot, or as I affectionately refer to it “The Junk Store.” I buy a 26oz. bag for $8. Netrition.com sells it for $10 plus $5 for shipping. Amazon sells four 26oz. bags for about $33. I’ll stick with the Junk Store for now.
Quinoa. It’s easy to cook, versatile and good for you. Also, it is gluten free. I guess mother knew best!