I have to admit, when I first saw this word, I thought it would be pronounced Kin-Oh-Ah, and went by this misconception for some time. After all, that’s what it looked like. People started talking about Keen-Wah, and I hadn’t a clue as to what they meant. Seriously.
Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) is a “pseudo-cereal” or “pseudo-grain”, and is in the same family as amaranth. It is native to Peru and was cultivated by pre-Columbian cultures in that region of the world. It is high in iron and protein, and is considered by some to be a “superfood”, whatever that really means. (The spell checker isn’t sure, either…)
I tried cooking the stuff a couple of times a few years back on the range, but epic FAIL. I’m not sure what went wrong, and at this date there’s no point in trying to figure this out. So until now, I’ve simply been eating it out, or taking it home from the salad bar at Whole Foods.
However: Rice Cooker Quinoa, attempted for the first time tonight, is an Epic Success in this household! (This is also the first time I’ve tried cooking anything other than sushi rice in the thing — I stumbled upon a whole world of rice cooker recipes that aren’t rice on YouTube the other day… As the unfortunately-late Leonard Nimoy [Spock] would say: “Fascinating.”)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: about 20-25 minutes, I wasn’t watching
Rest time: with the added veggies, another 5-10 min.
Rice Cooker Quinoa
* One rice cooker (if you don’t have, use a pot on your range, and watch constantly and perhaps you will have better luck than I did…)
* 1/2 cup quinoa
* 1 cup liquid, I went with nutritious, gelatinous homemade chicken stock. You can also do boxed low sodium chicken broth, homemade vegetable broth, boxed low sodium veggie broth, or just plain old boring water.
* About ten cherry tomatoes, sliced in half.
* About an ounce of mung bean sprouts.
* Half teaspoon of ground chipotle chili powder.
* Salt and pepper to taste.
* Cilantro for garnish
(Actually, use whatever veggies you have to hand that sound appealing. The cherry tomato glut was due to having a pot luck dinner cancelled on account of snow, and the mung beans due to an urge for making something Asian for the Lunar New Year, which I posted recently — although this dish was made earlier. Didn’t want two starches posted in a row!)
Put the quinoa and the liquid into the rice cooker, and set to the ” Brown Rice” setting. Since my stock is concentrated (and stored in the freezer in small containers), I added enough water to the stock to bring it to a one-cup volume.
Within a half hour or less, the quinoa will be done.
Add in the tomatoes, sprouts and seasonings, fluff with a fork, close lid back down for another ten minutes, then serve with a little (or a lot) of cilantro. Or save for workday lunches.
Optional: If you prefer to sprout your grains or pseudo-grains prior to cooking, these quinoa things will sprout in about two hours of soaking in water.
I am thinking there might be a lot of other things to do with this techno-beast. I bought it shortly before going very very low-grain in my personal food plan, and this should be a venue for further experimentation! (PS, I don’t consider myself standard “Paleo/Primal” since I find nutritious value in rice, quinoa, fermented soy, lentils and some other beans, especially if one regards real limits. And the occasional potato, which is now okay there, it seems. But I definitely approve of what the overall Paleo movement is trying to bring to the, ahem, table.)
I remain Low Starch!