Pronounced keen wa, quinoa are tiny discs of grain girded by a small band of bran. A staple of the Andes, this pseudo-cereal has a high concentration of amino acids so, unlike other grains, it is a complete protein. When cooked it expands to four times its original volume and becomes translucent, the bran visible as a curly tail. Cooked quinoa has a delicate, smokey, nutty flavour and a texture akin to caviar, and can be served like rice, couscous or millet. The uncooked seeds can be ground into flour.
- Quinoa can be found in most natural foods stores, and some mainstream grocery stores. Quinoa can be found pre-packaged, or in the bulk section of your health food store. Packaged quinoa tends to be cleaner than quinoa bought in bulk. Cooks can choose from ivory, red, or black quinoa; from sprouted quinoa; or from quinoa flakes or flour, as a starting point for cooking.
- Store quinoa like other grains, in a tightly closed container in a cool, dry place. It should be eaten within 3 - 6 months of purchase, but if refrigerated and stored properly, it can last as long as a year.
Types of Quinoa
- Quinoa or White Quinoa
- This is the most common kind of quinoa available in stores, so youll often see it just called quinoa. Sometimes its also called ivory quinoa.
- Red Quinoa
- Cooks report that red quinoa holds its shape after cooking a bit better than white quinoa, making it more suitable for cold salads or other recipes where a distinct grain is especially desirable.
- Black Quinoa
- A bit earthier and sweeter than white quinoa, black quinoa keeps its striking black color when cooked.
- Quinoa Flakes
- As with rolled oats or barley flakes, quinoa flakes are created by steam-rolling the whole grain kernel. Flaked grains always cook faster than whole kernels (groats) but since quinoa is already a quick-cooking grain, these flakes make a great instant breakfast.
- Quinoa Flour
- Derived from the ancient super grain of the Incas, quinoa flour provides a unique nutritional profile reflective of the mother grain. It is gluten-free, wheat-free and vegetarian. No chemical bleaching. No alcohol treatment. No additives. No anti-bacterial or anti-fungal agents. No bromate added. This smooth, ivory coloured flour has a mild, slightly nutty flavour that is pleasant to taste. Quinoa flour may be used alone or in combination with other flours in baking everything from cookies to muffins and cakes. It makes baked goods moister. It may also be used as a thickener in sauces, soups and other liquid-based dishes.
One cup of dried quinoa yields between 3 and 4 cups cooked.
Place quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer, rinse thoroughly with cool water, and drain.
Rinsing removes quinoas natural coating, called saponin, which can make it taste bitter or soapy. Although boxed quinoa is often pre-rinsed, it doesnt hurt to give the seeds an additional rinse at home.
Its important to rinse your quinoa just before you use it. If the quinoa sits too long after rinsing it will throw off your cooking times and your quinoa will turn to mush.
Instead of rinsing the quinoa, you can toast it in a dry pan, stirring occasionally, until you smell the toasted aroma and the grains start popping and dancing in the pan.
Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer over low heat. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. You should see tiny spirals (the germ) separating from and curling around the quinoa seeds.
Some people prefer their quinoa a little on the crunchy side, some prefer it more tender. If you like it with a bite, boil for 10 minutes. If you like your grains tender, boil for 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.
Cooked quinoa can be used as the basis for pilafs, salads, breakfast porridges, and more.
extra-virgin olive oil
tamari (soy sauce)
toasted sesame oil
sun dried tomatoes
Nutritionally, quinoa might be considered a supergrain — although it is not really a grain, but the seed of a leafy plant thats distantly related to spinach.
Quinoa has excellent reserves of protein, and unlike other grains, is not missing the amino acid lysine, so the protein is more complete.
Quinoa offers more iron than other grains and contains high levels of potassium and riboflavin, as well as other B vitamins: B6, niacin, and thiamin. It is also a good source of magnesium, zinc, copper, and manganese, and has some folate (folic acid).
Quinoa is gluten free, which makes it extremely useful to the celiac community and to others who may be sensitive to more common grains such as wheat – or even to all grains in the grass family.
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