Quinoa: Native to the Andes and about the size of sesame seeds, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) has a more impressive protein profile than that of wheat and contains numerous amino acids (lysine, cystine, and methionine) not normally found in grains. It's also very quick-cooking, delicious, and easy to digest.
Quinoa must be carefully swooshed in water and rinsed multiple times until the water runs clear to remove all the bitter saponin coating (believe to be a natural insect repellent). Packaged quinoa tends to be cleaner than quinoa bought in bulk. Rinse the quinoa just before cooking and drain it thoroughly. If the grain sits for 5 to 10 minutes in a moistened condition, the seeds begin to soften and this throws off the cooking time.
Plain-cooked quinoa has a slightly grassy taste, so I prefer to cook it in vegetable stock with a few cloves of garlic or perhaps a generous pinch of dried herbs. I have experimented with toasting the quinoa before cooking, but I don't think it's worth the effort: The grain has a lovely nutty quality and slight crunch without any extra fussing.
The trick to preparing quinoa is to be stingy on the water and the cooking time: It can turn to mush in a flash. Be on guard! Properly cooked, it will be light, fluffy, and transparent, with a small white filament (the sprout) dangling visibly. At the end of cooking time, if there's unabsorbed liquid in the pot and the quinoa is tender, simply pass it through the stainer.
Quinoa's mild flavor makes it a very versatile grain. Substitute it for bulgar for a sensational Tabbouleh, or dye it scarlet with some raw beets and serve it warm or at room temperature. It's also a natural cooked with corn, another native American. For a special treat, mail-order Ernie New's organic black quinoa; it's gorgeous to look at, and has a delightful nutty taste. Warning: Ernie's black quinoa needs lots of rinsing and a minute or two more of cooking.
BLACK QUINOA source:
: Ernie New
: White Mountain Farm, Inc.
: 8890 Lane 4 North
: Mosca, CO 81146
Source: Recipes from an Ecological Kitchen - by Lorna J. Sass : ISBN: 0-688-1051-1
: Typed for you by Karen Mintzias
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