A) What is the correct pronunciation of the word "Quinoa"?
3) "All I know is that when I tried to say it at the Christmas party,
everyone laughed at me. Since then I prefer to keep to myself."
4) "I have no idea what you're talking about. Is that some Native
American rock band?"
B) Well, what exactly IS quinoa?
1) "A seed of a plant that is a member of the goosefoot family, native
to South America. Humans have cultivated it as a food source for
over 3000 years. Did you know it's a great source of vegetable
protein and that the Aztecs....."
2) "Some sort of fluffy stuff my health-crazy spouse/significant other
keeps foisting on me. *sigh* The things I do for love."
3) "Enya's latest album?"
4) "If it's not a Native American rock band then I still have no idea
what the heck you're talking about."
If you're looking for the answers, go to the bottom of this article - or try Hari Krishna. (Yes, that was a shameless theft.)
Most of the references to quinoa I've seen refer to it as a grain. But according to this article(and if it's on Wikipedia you know it's got to be true, right?), quinoa is "a species of goosefoot...grown for it's edible grain-like seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal or grain, as it is not a member of the grass family." *end horticulture lesson*
I'd never heard of it myself until just a few years ago; now it seems nearly everyone has heard of it, and for good reason. It's a source of vegetable protein (just how much, exactly, is under debate), gluten-free and easily digestible, making it a boon to the veganarian menu, and to anyone suffering celiac's disease (or related allergies). It's also quick and easy to make, ready in about 10-15 minutes on the stovetop compared to 30-45 minutes needed for brown rice or wheatberries. Even though it's not a "true grain" it can take the place of rice, etc at any meal. And it's extremely versatile: it's soft texture and bland flavor let the stronger ingredients shine in any dish. (I've had it for breakfast in place of oatmeal, which is carb-heavy and makes me a bit sleepy by lunchtime.)
If you're new to it and trying to find out how to make the most of it, the recipes available online are literally, countless; the problem is not finding a recipe, but choosing one. A few ideas to get you started:
Lemon Quinoa with Asparagus and Feta from the Cookthink website caught my eye almost immediately because of it's "sunny" quality and balance of flavors. Substitute 1/2 tea. dried in place of the 1 tea. fresh herb called for. Substituting fresh cilantro, flatleaf parsley or basil would give it a different character, I should think, but might be worth a try anyway.
Cooking Quinoa, as you might imagine from the name, has so many recipes I didn't know where to begin - until this recipe for Quinoa Chocolate Bars stopped me dead in my tracks. Yes, chocolate - real chocolate - plus coconut butter, almonds, a bit of salt. Some of the dried cherries or blueberries from our Bulk section would be amazing in these. A very informative website, hundreds of recipes, but lots of images and can be slow to load. (It seems to work better with Safari than Foxfire.)
What Would Cathy Eat? is one of my favorite go-to websites for recipes that are veganarian AND heart-healthy, which are not always the same things, as well as plain delicious. A few that are perfect for what it's in season and available at the co-op right now: Curried Quinoa with Cauliflower and Stuffed Kabocha Squash with Quinoa and Chickpeas. I've seen a lot of recipes online that use quinoa as a stuffing for all varieties of hard squash, so you can really give your imagination free play here.
Quinoa can also be sprouted as a microgreen; here's some instructions from yet another quinoa-dedicated website called (what else?) Quinoa Health Tips. (At this point, quinoa just might be more famous than the Beatles.)
Hopefully that will get you off and running if you're new to quinoa; if you were ahead of the curve and it's already a part of your menu, what are your favorite ways to use it? Share in the comments section here or drop me an email.
Answers To "The Quinoa Quiz":
A) #1. If you answered #2-4, do come to the Bulk Section of Fiddleheads where we will answer all your questions, and then some. And hopefully save you from embarrassment at your next party - just don't attempt to say "tumeric".
B) Also #1. If you said #3 or 4, then see answer to A (above) and get thyself down to the co-op. If you said #2 - we admire your dedication to your partner and your willingness to try new things. (That said, you probably deserve a little payback. Five words: Last Thanksgiving. Your Uncle Jack. 'nuff said.)
Joan Weigle, who staffs the Fiddleheads Membership Info Desk every Saturday, loves Lior Lev Secarz's Spicy Cranberry Chutney with Apricots and Pecans . This recipe blends fresh cranberries, heated in cider and pomegranate juice, dried apricots and toasted pecans, then seasoned with ginger, cinnamon, clove, fennel, orange zest, etc. to subtle and complex effects that Joan appreciates. She said that it won the day for her in a competition with her daughter to determine who made the better chutney.
Cost of fresh cranberries at Fiddleheads: $3.00/lb
Hearing your child admit for once that Mom/Dad is right: PRICELESS
In the last two years I have inexplicably gone from "I can't stand spicy food" to "You call that spicy?" So if you're going to label your recipe "spicy", you'd better bring it.
For a time I fancied it was a result of growing sophistication on my part, until a friend pointed out to me, "Don't you know that you lose taste buds as you age?" (Yes, but I forgotten - because I didn't yet conceptualize myself as "aging". But now I do. Thanks. And I'd been so happy in my little world of fragile illusions "Look, a unicorn...!")
When I made the first batch of this for myself, I had to make some small adjustments due to availability and budget. I used watered-down black current juice from the co-op, which I already had at home, in place of the apple cider and pomegranate juice called for in the original. Black current juice is fairly strongly-flavored; nonetheless he result was, for my palate, surprisingly bland. I couldn't even taste the pecans, except to as a bit of crunchy texture. Tasty, but hardly worth the trouble and expense over my regular cranberry sauce recipe. (Now if someone would like to make a batch and show me how to "do it right"? Meet me at Fiddleheads and I will be glad, unlike Joan's daughter, to be proven wrong.)
So for my version I've I doubled the spices, added a splash of unfiltered apple cider vinegar, and a dash of cayenne in addition to the original's versions spices. Pecans are replaced by the more strongly-flavored and economical walnuts and raisins are thrown in the mix. Finally a touch of maple syrup balances the acidic flavors. You'll want to let it "rest" for 48 hours in the fridge to allow the flavors to mellow and really come together: tangy but not sharp, slightly sweet without being sugary. It's only when each bite slides off your tongue at the last do the spices "announce" themselves.
Spicier Cranberry Chutney
(adapted from Lev Lior Sacarz's original)
1/2 medium or 1 small red onion, chopped fine
olive oil for skillet
1 tea. ground cinnamon
1 whole anise star, or 1/2 tea. either ground fennel or anise
1/2 - 1 tea. ground cardamon
1/4 tea. ground allspice
1/4 - 1/3 freshly grated ginger
1/4 tea. ground cayenne
1/2 cup black current juice
1/2 cup water
juice and pulp of two large oranges
12 ounces fresh or frozen (thawed) cranberries
black pepper to taste
1/4 - 1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 dried apricots, chopped into small dice (to prevent knife from sticking, coat with a very small amount of oil or other oil)
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted/dry-roasted, then coarsely chopped or broken
2 tea. finely grated fresh orange zest, or the same amount of dried orange peel in small pieces, soaked in tepid water until softened
2 T apple cider vinegar
7-10 tea. maple syrup or amber (neutral) agave syrup, or to taste
wheatberries, cooked (optional, see note below)
In a heated skilled with slightly amount of olive oil, saute the chopped onion on low heat until tender and translucent, stirring frequently to prevent sticking; do not allow to brown.
Combine spices, except pepper, with the current juice and water into a large saucepan; add the orange juice and pulp to the pan. If using dried orange zest rather than fresh, and it and the soaking water to the pan now. Bring just to boil, then add the fresh cranberries; allow to return to the boil, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until cranberries begin to pop, about 5-7 minutes. Add a few rounds of cracked black pepper to taste. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. If you used whole anise stars, fish them out now before going on to the next step (unless pawing through a bowl of chunky burgundy chutney looking for chunks of barely-darker anise stars is your idea of a good time.)
In a bowl combine the dried fruits and the walnuts; if using fresh zest rather than dried, add it now. Add the cooked cranberry mixture to the bowl, and the apple cider vinegar. Add the sauteed chopped onion. Combine everything thoroughly, making sure fruits, nuts and onion are well-coated. Add the sweetener to taste, in increments, until satisfied, and adjust all seasonings to your liking. The taste at this point will probably be somewhat sharp.
Put into the refrigerator in a covered container, and allow to "rest" for at least 48 hours if possible; by then the flavors will have sufficiently "mellowed" and come together nicely.
Note: Cooked wheatberries stirred in any time after combining all other ingredients, even days later, add a chewy texture element. They also lend a heft that makes the chutney more substantive and filling; makes a nice breakfast or anytime treat.
It also solves the vexing question, "I got this because I'm trying to add whole grains to my diet but now what the heck do I DO with them?"
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Text and photos copyright 2011-2013 Janice Janostak unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.