Quinoa–King of the Plant Foods
I remember being a child in Peru and watching people feed Quinoa to the chickens because it was so abundant and inexpensive. The only people who mostly ate Quinoa were the Andean people living high in the mountains where this grain originated thousands of years ago. Because my grandfather loved to experiment in the kitchen with local ingredients, we’d eat quinoa as a part of different dishes, including desserts. It was an exciting surprise when not long ago really, Quinoa started to be imported into the U.S. and making its debut as a super food. It is now not fed to the chickens and I pay $3.99 for it bulk at my local market. But I don’t mind paying the price because Quinoa is a powerful plant food that packs a balanced set of amino acids making this Incan staple a complete protein source. And, of course, it is gluten-free. In this blog, I will use this rock star grain for different dishes, hot and cold, so I wanted to put it out there now: I am a big fan of Quinoa. You can cook Quinoa similarly to the way you cook rice, or you can toast it first (my favorite) to give it a smoky, nutty taste. Word of caution: most Quinoa that is imported comes already pre-washed and ready to cook. However, there are some companies that do not pre-wash and the package will tell you to wash the Quinoa first. If you do wash it, you will not be able to toast it until it is dry. Quinoa will dry in a day or two depending on the weather of where you live geographically.
To toast: take one cup (or whatever amount you’d like) and place it in a medium-deep pan. Turn up the heat to medium until the pan gets hot, then bring the temperature to low and start forking the quinoa until you can smell the tostiness and you can see the grain getting golden dark. Be careful not to burn it and watch out for any jumping grains. Once it is toasted, let it cool down. When it is cool, add two cups of liquid per one cup of Quinoa and let the liquid come to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Time it about 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and let it sit for a few minutes. Fluff with fork and serve!
Without toasting just place one cup of Quinoa per two cups of liquid in a pan. Let it come to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Time it about 10 minutes.