Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cooking with Quinoa

Quinoa is the grain of all grains, in my opinion. In fact, it's actually a seed disguised a grain-- this means it gets extra brownie points for being clever. It's high in protein and I often replace rice with it. In fact, it wasn't until about a month ago that our kitchen was stocked with a large quantity of brown rice (we're bad Asians).
I started cooking with quinoa a few years ago and now I can't get enough. It's definitely one of my super foods and I am always trying to find new ways to eat it. However, when I first started cooking with it, I had some bad experiences that resulted in overly mushy or extra crunchy/under cooked seeds. If this sounds like some of the experiences you are having, even with the directions on the box-- or you're just trying to ingrain the cooking procedure in your brain-- then hopefully you will find this post handy.

How to Cook Quinoa Perfectly

Tips to Remember:
1. Follow a 1:2 ratio of quinoa to liquid.
2. Rinse your quinoa well before cooking.
3.One cup of dry quinoa will yield you about 3 cups, cooked.
4. Although there are many different colors/kinds, they all cook the same.
5. Red quinoa is a little nuttier in texture than the common white variety.
6. You can make a lot of quinoa at once and store the uneaten batch in the fridge for about a week.

1 cup rinsed uncooked quinoa (red or white)
2 cups water (You can use stock also, but if you plan on adding it to sweet salads or breakfast dishes water is the best option.)
1/4-1/2 tsp salt

1. In a sauce pot, combine the quinoa, water, and salt. Turn the heat on high and leave the pot uncovered.
2. As soon as a moderate simmer starts,  turn the heat to low and cover the pot with the lid. Set a timer for 15 minutes-- don't open the pot at all (not even a peak!) until the timer goes off.

3. Turn off the heat and let the quinoa sit in the covered pot for about 5 minutes. Remove the lid and then use a fork to fluff the quinoa-- serve and enjoy!

Some Recipe Ideas for Quinoa

Breakfast Quinoa w/Dried Cherries & Almonds
Serves 1 (doctor this up however you want; try different fruits, nuts, and sweeteners!)
1 cup cooked and warmed quinoa
handful of dried bing cherries
handful of dry-roasted and sliced almonds
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp honey (plus extra for drizzling before serving/eating)
1/4 tsp cinnamon

1. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients by gently mixing together. Spoon into bowl or serving dish, drizzle with extra honey, and sprinkle a dash of cinnamon (optional). Enjoy!
Red Quinoa & Muscat Grape Salad
serves about 2 (small-medium sized portions)
2/3 cup warm cooked (with water) red quinoa
1 cup Muscat grapes, halved
1/4 – 1/3 cup fat-free feta cheese
2 tbsp cup dry roasted pine nuts
2 cups mache (lamb’s lettuce)
sun dried tomatoes
3 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
3 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1. In a medium bowl, combine the grapes, feta, and pine nuts. Add the warm quinoa and mix to combine. Add the lemon juice, vinegar, oil, , salt and pepper; mix again to combine. Gently toss in the mache and add a few sun dried tomatoes on top (or toss more in if desired).
Vegan Chickpea Patties
Makes about 6 4- 4 1/2″ patties
*I think this recipe would be great with some shredded carrots, onions, and other veggies...try and experiment with your favorites. 
1 1/4 cup soaked garbanzo beans
1 1/2 cup rice, cooked (I used white Jasmine because it was available; I think brown rice would be great, too) 
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup quinoa, cooked
3 tsp yeast flakes (couldn’t find it/didn’t use it and they turned out just fine!)
2  tbsp chickpea patty seasoning (recipe as follows)

Chickpea Patty Seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
2-3 cloves of minced garlic
1 1/3 cup yeast flakes (I have made this with and without...the difference isn't substantial)
3 tbsp onion powder
2 1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 1/2 tbsp. salt
1 tsp celery seed
2 1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning 
2 tbsp dried parsley

1. Mix all of the seasoning ingredients together and store in an air-tight container. Keep in the refrigerator if not using right away.
2. Blend the garbanzo beans until fairly smooth in a food processor. Mix all the other ingredients in another large bowl, add the beans, and mix again.  Form into patties and bake  for 30 minutes in a 350 degree F oven-- flip them over at 15 minutes.

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