Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Day 21 - Quinoa

I know, I know... after an entry so chock-full it couldn't even fit in the title space, today I make just Quinoa? Well, I still have leftovers to eat. And I wanted to make something! (Speaking of leftovers, those mashed potatoes were just as amazing the second time around. Not sure, but I think it must be the garlic or the potatoes themselves - I used too little butter and cream to be swept away by that.)

Quinoa (p. 413)

Does everyone know what Quinoa is? I got tight with Quinoa back during my vegetarian days in the 80's and 90's. Then we lost touch for a while but got reacquainted last year when I got parasites and went on some crazy diet that a homeopath prescribed (it didn't work - don't ask).

Quinoa is famous for being a "perfect" grain, in that it has the most complete protein of them all. If you haven't tried it, you should pick some up in the bulk section at your local health food store. It's cool just to experience a grain other than rice.

And quinoa is pretty unusual. First off, it looks like a little disk with a tiny ribbon around it. And then, it has a unique taste that would be difficult to describe. (The closest I could come is to say that it tastes like it definitely comes from the earth, like slightly bitter plant life.) By the way, it's pronounced keen-wah.

Just like millet, Martha's instructions diverge significantly from the package's cooking directions. The package wants me to use a 2:1 ratio, water to grain, boil first, then simmer for 12 minutes, remove from the heat and let steam for 15 minutes, then fluff and serve. Martha wants me to toast for 2 minutes, use a 1.5:1 ratio, and boil then simmer for 10-15 minutes and serve.

I love pitting Martha against the package - sort of like Iron Chef America or a Quinoa Throwdown.

First of all, toasting for two minutes doesn't seem to change much. I've toasted grains until they were seriously browned, and that you notice. Also, I'm used to making quinoa with chicken stock, so using just barely salted water is a switch.

After ten minutes of simmering, the quinoa isn't remotely absorbed. Even after 15 minutes, it's still pretty wet. Around 18 minutes, the quinoa was dry enough to eat, and I served it up, no steaming, no fluffing. And I have to say, it tasted pretty great! I don't know if it was the brief toasting, the pinch of salt, or the quinoa itself, but it was cooked very well and seemed unusually flavorful, even sharing a plate with such strong-flavored foods as a salmon burger and my killer mashed potatoes.

I'm going to have to call this one for Martha!

Jeff: A
Martha: A

Until we eat again...

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