Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Quinoa Cookery 101

Yesterday I had the chance to teach an amazing gal a little more about gluten free cooking. Everyone meet Lisa Schumacher. We'll be cooking a lot together. The couple of hours I was in her home, we came to realize what kindred spirits we are. I love her. We made ten freezer meals and I promised I would add the directions for how to cook quinoa to my blog for her gluten free, dairy free, organic lifestyle. Hooray! Here it is on Tutorial Tuesday! First things first...this is the grain we're working with.

I personally prefer the pre-washed variety of quinoa. The white I use in my Gluten Free flour . I purchased White Quinoa from my friends Troy and Tracey Adair down at their grain and emergency preparedness store, Preparing Wisely. Since it's national Preparedness month I thought it wouldn't hurt to share a little about this amazing grain. If you've never tasted it, you are in for a treat. Granted, there are some tricks to making a good quinoa.

I call it a super grain. Quinoa is an ancient crop that grows in poor soil, dry climates and even mountain altitudes. It is native to the Andes, but is also grown in South America and the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Although it can grow in arid conditions, it thrives best in well-drained soil. A quinoa grain is flat and has a pointed oval shape. The grains exist is several colorations, including yellow, red, brown and black. When cooked, quinoa expands to about three or four times its size. It also has a unique texture; the grain itself is smooth and creamy, but the tail of the grain has a crunchy texture. That texture may be what has endeared it o my soul. I love mild nutty flavor. It reminds me of a mild pecan. Now the secret is getting grain that is pre-rinsed if you can. I picked up a box of red pre-rinsed quinoa for sweet Lisa Schumacher when we did our cooking class together Monday.

However, on the way home I realized an awful craving for it and stopped at Trader Joe's. I grabbed a box and didn't look to see if it was pre-rinsed. Why does that matter? Well...if you don't rinse it when you should, it will be really bitter. Not my favorite. Mind you it was still gluten free and organic, so I just went ahead and cooked it.

First of all, you will always need to rinse and drain quinoa thoroughly in cold water before cooking. I put it in a metal mesh colander that I'm sure will not let any of my precious dots of happiness slide through into the dark abyss of my sad stinky garbage disposal. It doesn't deserve that kind of fate. It deserves to die respectfully...after being boiled and sauced. Right little nugglets of joy? You want to be boiled right? Who am I talking to? Yes...I do happen to be a firm believer in slight delusional conversations with my food. Less attractive are the conversations I have with chocolate...that may involve curse words on days I'm dieting. I'm just saying...I never curse at healthy food. It isn't evil. So rinse the quinoa. Now this is where it gets really rocket science like. Are you ready? You treat it just like rice. Easy. I did cover How to cook rice on the stove 101 a while back. Just for the folks who have no idea how that works. You know who you are.
1 cup quiona, rinsed
2 cups water
salt to taste (I use about 1 tsp)

1. In a 1 and a half quart (6 cups) capacity heavy pot with a tight fitting lid, boil the water and the salt, that is when the bubbles don't stop even when you stir it. Add the grain, cover the pot, and turn the burner to the lowest setting. Set your timer for 15 minutes. Don't stir it. Just let it simmer. This will produce perfect grain every time if you follow the instructions. Measure everything with "measuring cups". They are sold in the baking aisle. Some gals and guys don't know that. If you aren't sure if your pot is able to hold 6 cups, measure 6 cups of water into the pan first. If it works, you are in business. Be sure that the pan has a heavy bottom too. It the pan is thin, you will burn the quinoa. Must have good pans. Must have.

Now, if you feel pretty crazy and confident, try using chicken or vegetable broth in place of the water. It will add a lot of flavor. Some people don't like a flavor to their grain, beside the grain. I also like using coconut milk in place of the water in Hawaiian dinners, along with 1/4 cup minced onion. Garlic adds a nice touch too, even just one or two cloves pressed into the broth as you add the grain.
Here's what the quinoa grain looks like before it's cooked.

Look at it after! Cool huh?

We served it with some Honey Maple BBQ Sweet potatoes and carrots.
That recipe will follow when we have our BBQ rub giveaway.

Surprisingly...it was so simple I almost felt guilty. Almost.

There you go! Use some supergrain in your life!


Unknown said...

We pick up our Quinoa at Sprout's in bulk. I love it!

mlebagley said...

THis is the first I've ever heard of Quinoa....I'll have to give it a try. Do they sell it at walmart?

Tracey said...

I love Quinoa. Sometimes I'll cook it in place of brown rice just because it cooks much faster.

aswesow said...

Why does it need to be rinsed? I know some have grown it in SK...I would like to try it if I ever come across it.

Chef Tess said...

It needs to be rinsed or it has a really bitter taste. It's not like rice that can be rinsed optionally...it really will be nasty if you don't rinse it. Only stuff that doesn't need a good rise is the "pre-rinsed" variety. That's the only kind I use for flour as it eliminated an extra step.

Anonymous said...

I just made bread with half white bread flour, 1/4 oatmeal and 1/4 quinoa which I boiled for a few minutes in the water for the recipe before adding to the bread itself. Some of the little quinoa seeds made their way to the outside of the bread and were deliciously crunchy while the quinoa on the inside of the bread provided a little bit of texture but were mostly smooth. I was surprised how delicious the addition of quinoa was.

Anonymous said...