Okay, still working on pronouncing this food properly - even looked it up on Forvo (where I discovered I’d been mangling crepe all along *blush*). The general consensus seems to be: keen-wah.
Quinoa is actually a seed and is related to beets and spinach. There is a bit of a buzz surrounding this kernel as it’s not only gluten-free, but also considered a complete protein food.
I’d first tasted quinoa a few years ago, at a little café just outside the Queen Victoria markets in Melbourne (why doesn’t Sydney have something similar?). Clueless at the time as to what the “grain” might be, I ordered a quinoa salad because it looked so intriguing. The taste of the seed itself was quite mild and nutty, but what really hooked me was the texture – a little bit soft, a little bit chewy and a little bit crunchy, sort of like cous-cous with more backbone. If cous-cous was The Narrator, quinoa would be Tyler Durden.
In its uncooked form, quinoa looks quite unassuming, but once cooked, little “tails” appear - these give the seed it’s crunch. The “tail” is actually the seed’s external germ (I think this is science speak for the part that germinates).
Apparently, quinoa fresh off the plant is really bitter because it contains saponins. The bitterness can be removed by soaking and rinsing (store-bought quinoa would have undergone this process.)
The simplest way to prepare quinoa is the absorption method (like cooking rice) – bring 1 part quinoa and 2 parts water to boil, lower heat and simmer until the water has been absorbed. I like to make sure the quinoa maintains its bite, so once the tails have “unfurled”, I drain it in a sieve. It’s all a matter of taste, some folks may prefer it softer and fluffier. The great thing about the quinoa is that I haven’t yet had it stick to the bottom of the pan and burn, as rice sometimes has the habit of doing. The smell of cooked quinoa is prominent though, and it can take a bit of getting used to. It’s not a bad scent, just quite strong. MC Senior can always tell if I’ve cooked quinoa the minute she walks through the door.
Usually, I make a roasted vegetable salad with this seed, but I’d heard it could make a good breakfast as well. As I’d confessed earlier, breakfast is not my favourite meal of the day, and I’m on a mini-mission to compile a list of food that might appeal in the morning.
After a quick search on the interweb, I discovered that a lot of quinoa breakfast dishes are just variations of porridge (oatmeal). While I don’t mind porridge it’s not really what I want to eat on a warm summer’s morning. Then I remembered a Jill Dupleix recipe for sweet, spiced cous-cous. That recipe calls for the cous-cous to be served alongside a sweet milk and stewed apricots. While I have nothing against milk, I don’t think I can face sweet milk first thing upon waking, so my version involves plain Greek yoghurt, lightly stewed peaches and the quinoa.
Because I’m really not a morning person (a consequence of staying up late being a nosy parker and reading other people’s blogs), breakfast options not only need to appeal to my tastebuds, they have to be quick to make and basically idiot-proof. Did this quinoa breakfast pass the test?
Surprisingly yes. If pre-prepared, the actual putting together of this breakfast takes about 2 minutes. And I ate it all up. I even had it the next day without bothering to heat it or add sugar – and actually preferred the less sweet, cold version.
Resource : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinoa
My quinoa breakfast
(Inspired by Jill Dupleix’s sweet spiced cous-cous)
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
Cook the quinoa according package instructions, until al-dente. Store in airtight container in the fridge.
½ cup sugar (I used raw caster sugar)
½ cup water
(add spice eg cinnamon stick if desired)
Skin the peaches as you would a tomato – cut a cross in the pointy end, pour boiling water over it, leave for a minute or so, then remove and plunge into ice-water to stop it cooking. Peel and slice into segments.
Dissolve sugar and water in small saucepan over medium heat. Let simmer gently, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Slip the peaches in and simmer until tender (depends on ripeness of peaches). Remove with slotted spoon, set aside to cool. Simmer the syrup left in the bowl till it thickens a little (not too much though or it’ll turn into toffee). Pour over peaches, leave to cool, store covered in fridge.
Thick unsweetened yohurt (I used Greek yoghurt)
Pinch of cinnamon
Sugar to taste
To serve, place about a cup of cooked quinoa into a serving bowl. Then top with the yoghurt and peaches for a simple, cold breakfast. Otherwise, warm the quinoa in the microwave (or steam if you’re anti-microwave). The aim is to take the edge off the chill and not to make it piping hot. Stir through about 1 tsp sugar and a pinch of cinnamon until the quinoa is thoroughly coated. Then serve with yoghurt and peaches.
Have a great weekend!