Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cooking With Quinoa

A more recent healthy grain that seems to have hit the main stream food scene in the last year or two is Quinoa. I myself am also pretty new to it in the kitchen. I have had the pleasure of trying it out a few times recently and what I have learned so far is, it is a very versatile ingredient. I have seen it in everything from salads to main courses and even the breakfast arena. So far I have made it with chicken and roasted vegetables in place of rice or pasta, and on it's own like a pilaf. Both were excellent! However, my favorite so far has been at on of in my opinions the best restaurants around(The Bridgewater Bistro in Astoria) they served it in a hearty salad with butternut squash, mango and avocado. Super delish!!

Another great way to serve it that I plan on having for breakfast soon, is in place of oatmeal with a little milk, butter, brown sugar, almonds and dried cranberries.

Basic Quinoa cooking instructions.

Quinoa can be cooked a few different ways. The absorption method, the cook and strain method and steaming. So far I have only used the first two as they seem to be the easiest, but from the research I have done about steaming it, you would steam it the same way you would rice which allows it to cook more evenly. It might even be worth it to try cooking it in a rice cooker if you have one.
To cook quinoa through absorption the ratio is the same as rice - 2 cups water to one cup quinoa. Though I have found this to not always be exact. The key is to keep an eye on it as it cooks and add more water if needed. The nice thing is you can stir quinoa a little during the cooking process and not have worry about it getting starchy and mushy like rice can get. Though only stir if you absolutely have to as it can effect the way the seed opens up, thus changing the texture of the overall cooked product.

Now if you prefer to cook it via the cook and strain method. Bring a large pot of water to boil add about 3 cups of water per cup of quinoa and a dash of salt. Add quinoa, a dash of salt and loosely cover with a lid. Cook until it reaches it's desired done-ness then strain as you would pasta (but using a sieve or finely punctured colander) and serve.

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