A selection of great dishes to help you get acquainted with this healthy, versatile grain.by Gitta Bixenspanner
If you’d like to try something different and healthier than wheat pasta, oats, farfel, and brown rice, consider protein-rich quinoa (“KEEN-wah”). Because this grain is so mild-flavored and versatile, you'll find lots of easy quinoa recipes to suit your taste. This roundish sand-colored grain has a mild, nutty flavor and light texture. Quinoa rates highest in nutritive value amongst the grains. It is the only grain that is considered a full protein, and is a great source of iron, all the B vitamins, phosphorus and fiber, yet quinoa is easy to digest and prepare. It is as versatile as rice or farfel and can be used in many dishes, from entrées to desserts, for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Quinoa is good served hot or at room temperature. It works well in pilafs, stews, burgers soups, salads and as a morning cereal drizzled with maple syrup. To cook quinoa for a pilaf or salad, you can use water or broth. For your morning cereal, try apple or orange juice. To make the cooked grains fluffier, first rinse and roast them in a dry non-stick pan over medium-low heat, stirring until they become fragrant and pop. In about three minutes, when the popping stops, add the liquid, cover and cook until the quinoa is done, about 15 minutes.
Nature protects each grain of quinoa with a coating of saponin, a bitter, soap-like substance that acts as a natural insect repellent, so it is important to rinse quinoa well before cooking. Unlike other whole grains, the germ — the nutrient-rich middle layer of a grain — covers the entire kernel of quinoa. As quinoa cooks, the germ separates from the kernel, creating little white rings. When you see these rings, you know the grains are fully cooked.
Here is a selection of great dishes to help you get acquainted with this super grain.
Colorful Quinoa Tabbouleh
- 1 cup Quinoa, washed and drained well
- 2 ½ cups water
- 4 medium tomatoes diced
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled if waxed and chopped
- 1 cup fresh parsley, washed well and finely minced
- 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, finely minced (optional)
- 1/2 cup pitted black olives
- 1/2 cup red onion, finely minced
- 1/3 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 Tbs Eden Ume Plum Vinegar (a salty liquid extracted from Japanese plums available in health food stores)
- 3 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 4 ounces roasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds
Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan, add the quinoa, cover, reduce the flame to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes or until all water has been absorbed. Place the quinoa in a large mixing bowl and fluff up with a spoon until grain is separated. Add all remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly before transferring to a serving bowl. Decorate with some parsley leaves and olives
Preparation 15 minutes
Cooking time 20 minutes
Quinoa and pomegranate salad
Quinoa is so versatile that it lends itself to sweet or salty recipes. Here it is presented with pomegranate seeds that are now appearing in local markets. Have this recipe in mind when planning your Rosh Hashanah menu. It is easy to make and it is nutritious as it is delicious!
There is coriander also known as cilantro, in this recipe which has a sort of lemony taste. In my experience I found that people have an interesting relationship with this herb; namely either they love it or hate it. People hailing from Mediterranean countries appreciate it’s pungent taste, while those of Eastern European descent are not accostumed to it’s taste. Feel free to use your discretion when making this recipe which is great with it or without it.
Furthermore, mint adds another dimension to the dish. I pluck some mint out of my backyard garden and use it sparingly, not to overpower the dish with the mint flavor.
- 1 cup (150g) quinoa
- 1 ½ cups water
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp garlic powder (optional)
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 1 pomegranate, seeds removed
- Small handful mint, chopped (optional)
- Small handful coriander/cilantro, chopped (optional)
- 1 lime juiced
- 1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
Wash quinoa very thoroughly. Cook according to package instructions (about 20 minutes) adding salt and garlic powder to the cooking water. allow to cool for a few minutes, then fluff up with a fork.
Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan until lightly golden. Mix the pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, herbs, lime juice and 4 Tbs oil with the quinoa. Serve as is, or as a side dish to fish or chicken.
Feel free to add chopped dried apricots instead of the pomegranate. Or try adding some broiled shredded chicken.
Preparation 15 minutes
Special Quinoa burgers
Burgers are always ever so popular and sure to please all ages. Why not try these delightful quinoa burgers! Whenever I cook quinoa I end up making too much. This is a good way of using up leftover cooked quinoa. They are great served for lunch the next day!
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 cup minced onions
- ½ cup minced parsley
- 2 eggs
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbs (homemade) mayonnaise
- ¼ tsp. basil (optional)
- 2 Tbs sesame or olive oil (or what is available)
- 2 Tbs whole wheat pastry flour
Place first eight ingredients into a large bowl. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Add just enough pastry flour to hold the mixture together. If the mixture gets too dry, add a little water. Form 1-inch thick patties with wet hands.
Bake patties at 350 on both sides until golden brown.
Serve on lettuce leaves with red onion rings. Top each burger with 1 tsp. of Techina.
Makes 8 medium sized patties
Extra Note For a wonderful presentation put quinoa mixture into cupcake holders in a muffin tin. Bake an extra ten minutes on 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 180 degrees centigrade then serve one or two muffins per person.
Preparation: 30 minutes
Serves 4 to 6
Creamy Quinoa Pudding
- 1 cup Quinoa, rinsed
- 2 ½ cups Almond Milk
- 1/8 tsp Sea Salt
- 1 tsp organic sesame tahini
- 2 Tbs Maple Syrup
- 2 Tbs corn starch, dissolved in 3 T. cold water
- 1 Tbs pure vanilla extract
- ½ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated (optional)
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 4 cinnamon sticks for garnish
In a heavy saucepan cook quinoa, Almond milk, and salt until it comes to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add sesame butter and Maple syrup. Mix well. Add corn starch, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Add vanilla and spices. Top with your choice of chopped nuts, roasted seeds or fruit and a dash of cinnamon. Decorate with a cinnamon stick. Delicious warm or chilled.
Preparation 5 minutes
Cooking Time 0:25 minutes