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How to Cook Quinoa
For those of you who are still unfamiliar with quinoa, I thought I would give you a little background material and a demonstration on how it is to be cooked. (That’s not me in the video. I haven’t stepped up to video blogging just yet:)
I first became aware of quinoa when my teaching partners and I were involved in a year-long study with our students on Latin America that was to culminate in a Latin American Fiesta. Part of my group’s responsibility was to research and prepare native foods. Until that time, I don’t believe that I had ever heard of quinoa. I certainly had never prepared it.
There was no such thing as online ordering, so I began inquiring about quinoa at area health food stores. Beans, Grains and Things (now Whole Foods) was able to locate a supplier, and I placed my first order. Fortunately, quinoa products are now readily available in most markets. There is always some form of quinoa in my pantry.
Quinoa is native to the Andes Mountains of Bolivia, Chile, and Peru. This crop (pronounced KEEN-WAH), has been called 41 vegetable caviar" or Inca rice, and has been eaten continuously for 5,000 years by people who live on the mountain plateaus and in the valleys of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile. Quinua means "mother grain" in the Inca language. This crop was a staple food of the Inca people and remains an important food crop for their descendants, the Quechua and Aymara peoples who live in rural regions.
Quinoa is a highly nutritious food. The nutritional quality of this crop has been compared to that of dried whole milk by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. The protein quality and quantity in quinoa seed is often superior to those of more common cereal grains. Quinoa is higher in lysine than wheat, and the amino acid content of quinoa seed is considered well-balanced for human and animal nutrition, similar to that of casein.
Quinoa is used to make flour, soup, breakfast cereal, and alcohol. Most quinoa sold in the United States has been sold as whole grain that is cooked separately as rice or in combination dishes such as pilaf. Quinoa flour works well as a starch extender when combined with wheat flour or grain, or corn meal, in making biscuits, bread, and processed food.
Seed coats are usually covered with bitter saponin compounds that must be removed before human consumption. The marketable seed is usually white in color. The leaves are frequently eaten as a leafy vegetable, like spinach. Seed imported from growers in South America is sold in the United States in health-food stores and gourmet food shops at high prices.
Quinoa grain has a lower sodium content and is higher in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc than wheat, barley, or corn.
Information courtesy USDA. Photos courtesy Quinoa.Net.
Sorry about the size of the video. I could not figure out how to alter the embed code.
You can find some additional quinoa recipes here: Quinoa.Net
PAULA DEEN’SS QUINOA WITH SWEET POTATOES AND BLACK BEANS
4 cups chopped sweet potatoes (about 2 medium)
1 sweet onion, sliced (Maui or Vidalia are good choices)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 (1-pound) trimmed pork tenderloin
1 Tablespoon Paula Deen Paprika Spice Blend (I substituted Emeril’s Bayou Blast which I already had prepared.)
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup queso fresco cheese (can substitute feta)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine potatoes, onion, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and 1/2 Tablespoon oil. Spread potato mixture evenly on half of prepared baking sheet. Place tenderloin on other half of baking sheet. Rub remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and Paprika Spice Blend evenly on tenderloin. Bake for 20 minutes, or until tenderloin is cooked to desired degree of doneness and potatoes are tender. Remove and discard garlic cloves. Let tenderloin stand for 10 minutes before slicing.
In a medium saucepan, combine broth and quinoa over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
In a large bowl, combine potato mixture, cooked quinoa, black beans, queso fresco, cilantro, lime juice, and remaining 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil.
Serve tenderloin over quinoa mixture.
While we really enjoyed this dish…lots of color and flavor…I would probably just grill the tenderloin next time. I will also just plan to season it with the jerk seasoning that we really like. Otherwise, I thought it was great! This would be equally good by itself as a side dish or served with grilled chicken.