Sunday, October 28, 2007

Back To Basics: Quinoa

Quinoa is the classic wallflower of foods. It's a plain-jane, purely wholesome dish not flavorfully equipped for any significant amount of time in the spotlight, but like any really good girl-next-door, get her a little dressed up and she's va-va-voom delicious. Above is a plate I scrapped together with the bare, bare remainders of my refrigerator after a week spent up to my neck in finals, so forgive that lack of imagination: a half cup of cooked quinoa simmered in some stewed tomatoes with artichoke hearts, feta cheese, kalamata olives, and grilled onions.

You'll find that Quinoa goes happily with just about anything. Grilled vegetables, swiss chard and tomatoes, fish...make it into salads using apples, celery, nuts, and a little yogurt. If you're curious for more, (yep, there really is one) has a pretty comprehensive list of other recipes.

All tastes aside, though, Quinoa packs a serious nutritional punch. It's a true superfood: a complete protien, with all 9 essential amino acids, plenty of fiber, magnesium, and iron. Considered a sacred crop to the Incas, who spent hundreds of years cultivating it in the Andes, it was referred to as the "mother of all grains" and served as the focal point of their diet until European conquest and subsequent colonialism, whereafter quinoa was scorned and oppressed as an indigenous "non-Christian" food-stuff...right. Anyhow, Quiona's back and bigger than ever.

Basic Quinoa prep goes as follows: Boil 1 cup quiona to 2 cups water (add some salt or olive oil as you see fit), then let it simmer for fifteen or so minutes until all the water is gone. voila! It's Quinoa!

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