31 May 2012

Discovering quinoa

Quinoa is my new favourite thing. I’m a girl who can’t cook rice without a rice cooker, but quinoa is a breeze.

This funny-looking little grain is having a bit of a moment. Lots of new books out on how to cook with it, always a magazine article trumpeting how good it is for us (high protein, fibre and iron — we should all be eating this by the bucketload) and how it’s been the staple for some ancient civilization for thousands of years (if you’re truly interested, Wikipedia gives a great snapshot).

If you can boil rice, you can make quinoa. In fact, even if you are rice-challenged like me, quinoa is a doddle (it’s even tempting me to overcome my fear of the absorption method). Simply put one part quinoa in a pan, add three parts water (I use boiled water from the kettle to hurry things a long a bit), put the lid on, and when it starts to get going, turn it down to low. Like rice, it gets those curious funnels as it really cooks. It seems to take around 15 minutes; at the end, take the lid off and stir the pot to ensure all the moisture is gone (wet quinoa is not a good thing).

I’ve found you can cook a small batch to last a couple of nights, then use it as a time-saver base for meals, especially on yoga nights when I’m prone to coming home, hungry but lazy, and reaching for crackers and butter. Now I can pull out my little tub of cooked quinoa, fold through some tinned chickpeas, and some vegie chunks (steamed or roasted from the night before) and/or raw salad ingredients like cucumber, mushrooms and red capsicum. Dress with a little olive oil, sweet balsamic vinegar and lemon juice, and I can feel smugly healthy in less than 15 minutes (the truly virtuous-goddess vibes are at their strongest and most delusional after my weekly yoga class).
Anyway, it’s another spin on my what I call my warm salad thing, and becoming a regular player in my weeknight meals.

I have read many times that quinoa can make a kind breakfast porridge, but I can’t make that leap yet. Besides, I rather love my rolled oats.

I’m looking forward to finishing my bag of anonymous supermarket quinoa, as the Aproneers stocks the stuff grown in Kindred, Tas! Where is Kindred??

What’s your favourite way to eat quinoa? Can you expand my repertoire?

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