However you pronounce it, quinoa is tasty and versatile

MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERSFebruary 19, 2014 

Lentil quinoa Bolognese sauce and pasta.

THE WASHINGTON POST

  • CLEANING AND COOKING QUINOA

    Æ Thoroughly washing quinoa before cooking removes all traces of its bitter saponin coating, nature’s way of making the high-protein seeds unattractive to birds and other seedeaters. Saponin is mildly toxic, causing low-level gastrointestinal distress in some people. Use a fine-mesh sieve. Better yet, let the quinoa soak for about 15 minutes in cold water, then drain the grains through a fine-mesh sieve.

    Æ You’ll need 1 1/2 cups water to every 1 cup of quinoa.

    Æ Combine 1 1/2 cups water and the rinsed quinoa in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 to 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. You’ll know the quinoa is finished cooking when it appears as if each grain has “popped” open. Remove from heat; fluff with a fork.

    Cooking Light magazine

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a healthful whole grain that isn’t on the grocery list of many consumers.

But it’s becoming more mainstream and widely available in grocery stores. It’s high in protein and contains all the necessary amino acids, making it an excellent option for vegetarians and vegans. As a whole grain, it is also an excellent source of fiber and important minerals. It’s a popular choice for many with celiac disease because it’s gluten-free.

Quinoa is versatile and can be used in all kinds of dishes.

Quinoa is actually a seed from a vegetable related to Swiss chard, spinach and beets, although it is often referred to as a “supergrain” because it’s a nutritionally complete protein. The pinhead-size seeds can be white, red or black.

According to America’s Test Kitchen, white quinoa, the largest seeds of the three, has a slightly nutty, vegetal flavor with a hint of bitterness; it also has the softest texture of the three quinoas.

The medium-size red seeds offer a heartier crunch, thanks to their additional seed coat and a predominant nuttiness. Black quinoa seeds, the smallest of the three, have the thickest seed coat. They were notably crunchy in recipes and retain their shape the most during cooking, but many of the Test Kitchen tasters disliked their slightly sandy texture.

These seeds had the mildest flavor, with a hint of molasses-like sweetness.

When choosing packaged quinoa to cook, you’ll want to buy the prewashed, even though it might be a few cents more per ounce. America’s Test Kitchen found that the traditional quinoa offered no flavor or textural advantages over prewashed brands.

LENTIL QUINOA BOLOGNESE SAUCE

8 servings

Use this the way you would a meaty Bolognese: over tagliatelle or the pasta of your choice, or in lasagna.

You can use a blender instead of a food processor, but that might create more of a homogenous, greenish sauce rather than one with dark-green flecks.

1 cup dried lentils (preferably brown or green), rinsed

3 medium carrots, well scrubbed and cut into large chunks

2 cups water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 small onion, chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

28 ounces no-salt-added crushed tomatoes or 3 cups homemade tomato puree

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 small bunch kale, stems removed and discarded, leaves torn into small pieces (about 3 cups)

1/2 cup dried quinoa, rinsed well

1/2 cup red wine

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine the lentils, carrots and water in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low; cover and cook until the lentils are tender, 30 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the oil into a medium saute pan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and stir to coat; cook until translucent, 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the bell pepper and garlic, stirring to coat; cook until tender, 4 minutes. Transfer to a food processor.

Once the carrots and lentils are cooked, transfer the carrots from the pot to the food processor, along with the tomatoes or tomato puree, oregano, basil, crushed red pepper flakes and kale. Pulse until mostly smooth.

Add the quinoa and red wine to the pot of lentils, stirring to incorporate; cover and cook until the quinoa grains start to show their white tails, 6 or 7 minutes.

Stir the carrot-kale puree into the lentil-quinoa mixture; cook, covered, over low heat until the sauce melds and heats thoroughly, about 20 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper.

Serve hot, or cool completely before storing.

Nutrition per serving: 230 calories, 11 g protein, 34 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 180 mg sodium, 11 g dietary fiber, 6 g sugarSource: The Washington Post

BLACK BEAN AND QUINOA BURGER

Makes 6 to 8 burgers.

2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, drained and rinsed

3/4 cup dry quinoa

1/2 red bell pepper, minced

1/2 green bell pepper, minced

1 medium red onion, minced

1/2 bunch green onion, minced

1/2 bunch cilantro, minced

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

3/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons Louisiana hot sauce

1/2 cup gluten-free flour

1/2 tablespoon egg replacer

Boil the quinoa until cooked thoroughly then drain and let cool. Combine the beans, quinoa, bell peppers, onions, cilantro, and seasonings in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Add the gluten-free flour and egg replacer then mix thoroughly again. Mash everything to consistency. Form into patties and cook in a little bit of oil on medium high heat until heated through and golden brown.

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