Quinoa. It's a weird word. Say "KEEN-wah" and you're in.
You know what's even weirder? Quinoa isn't acutally a grain, even though you cook it like one. It's really a little tiny seed that is positively brimming with good things. Fiber? Check. Iron? Check. Protein? Check. (Take that, protein naysayers.)
Freakin' delicious? Double check. (Check).
The quiona plant looks like this:
Isn't it pretty? It's got an amazing history as well, being a staple crop of the Incas and other Andean peoples...that is, before the friendly Spanish colonists came and told them to grow wheat instead, which inevitably lead to their destruction. Awesome job, Spain! Way to be...
Anywho, we're fortunate to have this amazing food be so widely available because it freakin' rocks. You cook quinoa a lot like rice, but it has staggeringly higher nutritional content than many varieties and is way more fun to look at. The cooked quinoa seed/grain casts its germ out like a red-headed step child, the result of which is a curly little blob of cuteness. See? This is the red variety:
Funky, right? Add a little salt & pepper and maybe a dash of olive oil, and you're good to go...but that's only the beginning. You can put quinoa almost anywhere...desserts, salads, even breads. It's gluten free! It's awesome with honey and cranberries! And stirred into oatmeal with raisins and almonds? Holy crap.
But first, here's how to make plain 'ol basic quinoa:
Just like rice, you want a 2:1 ratio of water to grain. So, for example, 2 cups of water and 1 cup of quinoa. Bring your water to boil, then add your grain and simmer for about 15 minutes or until you see that little germ poke out and curl around the seed. When ya see that, it's done.
A fab recipe will follow tomorrow! Until then, here's a basic one from the Food Network that looks enticing.