Quinoa (pronounced Keen-Wah) is a species of goosefoot plant which is grown for both the leaves and the seeds. This plant is considered a “pseudo-cereal” because it is not in the grass family which would have classified it as a grain.
You can buy harvested quinoa seeds in organic markets or in many local grocery stores. The seeds contain up to 18% protein, are gluten-free and easy to digest. Because the seeds contain a balanced set of essential amino acids they are basically a perfect protein.
Quinoa has a similar consistency to couscous and has a rich nutty taste. It is cooked like with a ratio of one cup quinoa to 2 cups liquid. If you soak the quinoa prior to cooking, the mix is one cup soaked quinoa to 1 ½ cups liquid.
I purchased a large bag of quinoa at Costco last week and made a delicious dish from a recipe included on the back of the bag. The dish is a quinoa cranberry almond salad that tastes good both hot and cold. And OH BOY is it GREAT.
Quinoa Cranberry Almond Salad
First, soak one cup of quinoa in water, draining after ½ hour. Heat ½ teaspoon oil in a pan and add ½ cup slivered almonds along with the drained quinoa. Toast until both are a golden color. Place the quinoa and almonds in a pot with 1 ½ cups chicken or vegetable broth, ½ an inch of a cinnamon stick, 1 bay leaf and ½ cup dried cranberries. Bring to a boil and then put the heat on low. Cook for about ten minutes or until the quinoa has soaked up the liquid.
The result is a delicious dish of quinoa, toasted almonds and cranberries that can be used as a main dish or a side.
There are lots of wonderful quinoa recipes on the internet, from curried quinoa to vegetable quinoa salad. Quinoa is extremely versatile, served in both sweet and savory main dishes and sides. It is healthy, full of protein and tastes great too!