Friday, October 22, 2010

Black Quinoa Super Grain

It has come to my attention that I haven't done a lot of side dishes here for Freezer Friday and I wanted to make sure that I wasn't leaving out one of my favorite parts of a meal...more of the meal. If that makes simple sense. It is one thing to have the freezer meal rice topper on rice, but another world to have it on a whole grain like quinoa or barley. I'm a huge fan of the Solar Cooked Fire and Rain Barley Pilaf as a base for soup or as a meal on it's own if we're talking grain. I have a long way to go adding a ton more on the subject of whole grain here on the blog. I hope you don't get sick of the new options. Variety is good. Even with grain, as it will nourish your body different ways and add another level of appreciation for good food. More than likely, my kids will at least be able to visit other families around the world someday and not freak out if they are served a meal they don't recognize. That's always good for foreign relations. So is this. Bolivia...I love you. I love your Black Organic Quinoa . Quinoa ( pronounced "keen-wah") is heaven. It has been cultivated in the Andes for more than 5000 years! Locally referred to as the "mother grain", it kept the Incan armies strong and robust. It's a protein powerhouse and considered one of the best sources of protein and amino acids by the United Nations. It's gluten free. Plus... look at it. It's just gorgeous and looks like Fall. Doesn't it? I fell in love the first grain that I ate. It is slightly nutty flavored and mild with amazing texture. Uncooked it looks like this...

The main thing to remember with quinoa cookery is to always rinse the grain. Always. It isn't optional like rice rinsing is. Quinoa will be huge wads of bitter unhappy junk in your mouth if you don't rinse it. I'm just've been warned. Put the grain in a strainer that is fine enough that the grain won't wash out.

This is how you cook it:

It will look like it has sprouted when cooked. It isn't sprouted. Just cool.

Because herbs freeze beautifully, I add a few from the garden.
This batch ended up like a fusion of Provence France and the Andes mountains. If that's possible--I'm eating brie with it. I'm using herbs that are traditionally combined for a classic French meal. Dill, parsley, tarragon, rosemary, thyme, basil and oregano. This with a subtle hint of lavender petals and some fresh squeezed lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste. A drizzle of fruity Lucero

Crushed Mandarin Orange Certified Extra Virgin Olive Oil .

Personal taste will vary and your preference for herbs may be different. As a general rule, I use about 1/4 cup chopped herbs to 2 cups cooked grain.
Put 2 cup portions in pint size freezer bags or containers and remove as much air as possible. Freeze laying flat for maximum freezer space.
Defrost in the fridge or in the microwave out of the bag. Heat 2-3 minutes microwave or add to your favorite soup or casserole in place of rice.

There you go. Explore a new grain this week.

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