I've never considered myself particularly trendy, preferring instead to play the chameleon and attempt to blend in in most situations. However, I will say this: when it comes to culinary creations, I do like to stay on forefront of emerging eating and cooking trends. So I was pleasantly surprised when I hopped online today and saw an abundance of recipes featuring quinoa on some of my favorite sites. I have to admit, I haven't been cooking with quinoa for terribly long, but I enjoy it immensely and have SO many ideas for recipes featuring this amazing little seed! It's nice to know I'm in good company.
Quinoa has been touted as a "superfood" and the more I work with it, the more I'm inclined to agree. If you're a quinoa newbie, here are a few things you should know:
1. It looks like a grain, but is actually a seed.
2. It is a complete protein (containing an almost ideal balance of all 9 essential amino acids), is high in fiber, is nutrient rich (calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, vitamin E and B vitamins) and is gluten free.
3. It's a good idea to soak/rinse it before cooking. Quinoa has a coating called saponin on it's surface that can produce a bitter soapy quality when cooked. Granted, most of what you'll find at the local grocery store has already been pre-washed and dried, but in my opinion, a little prevention never hurt anyone.
4. There are 3 color varieties: white, red and black. I've only come across the white variety to date but you can rest assured that as soon as I see either of the others they'll be on the dinner table that very night!
5. Working with quinoa is very similar to cooking rice, and a bit like couscous. There are a couple different methods for cooking it: boiling (like pasta) vs absorption (like rice). I'm still trying to find my preference.
6. It's delicious! The texture is somewhere between that of barley and couscous...light and fluffy yet with a toothsome bite and slight crunch. The flavor has the earthy nuttiness of wild rice but, more reserved, not as aggressive.
7. It's versatile! Breakfast, lunch or dinner , hot or cold, side dish or main course - quinoa can seamlessly integrate into almost any meal!