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    MOSTLYH2O   19,264
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Keen on Quinoa


Tuesday, February 08, 2011

So like in my quest for a healthy, whole food, seasonal, local diet that I love and am excited about, I've been trying new foods and recipes...I've got kale and homemade hummus under my belt, so now's the time to try that grain I keep hearing about that's supposed to be super-healthy and full of all kinds of crap that'll make you live forever: quinoa.

But I really didn't know anything about it except that there was that one chick who tried to cook it on Top Chef and failed miserably because she undercooked it. So I was feeling some trepidation as I entered my local Whole Foods looking for it. At least I DID know how to pronounce it (KEEN-wa...say it! Keen-wa! Keen-wa! I was doing that for an entire evening after I heard about it on a food show; my DH, bless his heart, remained unfazed.) I was feeling rather "in the know" when I found a darling little proto-hippie working there and asked for it by name, only to be kind of deflated when she's all "Red or white? Pilaf mix? Packaged? Bulk?" And looking at me all cheerily expectant.

Oy. Here I thought I was so fancy knowing how to SAY it.

"Er, white, I guess? Packaged?"

She smiled, a bit knowingly I thought, as if she knew that the concept of bulk red quinoa made me feel a little faint. She told me which aisle and trotted off, undoubtedly to go prepare the outer bran of something for her lunch, and I shouldered my way past all the yoga-mat-toting fifty-somethings to the grains and pasta aisle, and surveyed the selection.

I picked up the least threatening-looking package and read the directions, hoping this wouldn't call for some extravagant rinsing and washing and overnight soaking (or is that dried beans?) but hmm...not too bad; in fact, kind of like couscous, which I've cooked before, albeit from a pre-flavored package...just bring to a boil in water or broth, reduce heat and -- whoa -- what's this:

"Let simmer until quinoa is tender and the protein spiral is released."

OK, hold on a sec -- is it just me or does that sound like something they'd say on a Discovery Channel special on the mating habits of algae?! Why would they put that so baldly on the package, as if anyone would be happy to have protein spirals releasing all over their kitchen??? Eventually, though, after reading some other, more informative packages, I found that this was normal for quinoa, and not dangerous at all, and actually just how it cooks and what gives the grain its nice "bite". Still.

I took it home and looked around the Internets for a tasty-sounding recipe. As usual I ended up getting the gist of it and then looking for stuff in my kitchen to use. I ended up with this:

1 cup of dry quinoa
2 cups of chicken broth
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp kosher salt
Couple grinds of pepper
2 tsp olive oil

Heat the oil in a saucepan on medium-low and sweat the shallots until soft. Add all the other ingredients, stir, cover and simmer for 20 mins, or until there are a bunch of released protein spirals flying around your kitchen. :)

I used shallots, 'cause Anthony Bourdain said if you want to do one easy thing to make your food more like restaurant food, use shallots. It smelled geat while it was cooking and I'm sure it would've been fantastic...if I hadn't burned it. Gah!!! Well...I didn't QUITE burn it...but it was a leeetle crispy around the edges...but we scooped out the "good stuff" and ate it anyway and it was really good! Definitely kind of like couscous except a little chewier and more flavorful, but that might've been the shallots. And so good for you, especially for its protein content...great for those poor, misguided souls among us who are vegetarians (Kidding!!! But how can one not live life without BACON, fergodsakes?!)

We liked it enough that I cooked it again a couple nights later and finally succeeded in not burn -- er, crisping it, and it really was great. Oddly, it reminds me a bit, in texture, of the sort of slight chewiness to the Malt-o-Meal I used to eat when I was a kid. I wonder -- you probably COULD eat it like a breakfast cereal! But maybe minus the shallots...

Cheers!

(KEEN-wa! KEEN-wa! KEEN-wa!)

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Member Comments About This Blog Post:
EMRANA 2/19/2011 12:41PM

  Vegans can eat bacon bits 'cause most of them don't have any actual meat. *wink* They're processed and I try to avoid that, but sometimes I want that particular crunch in my salad.

Another hilarious blog. You have a gift for writing. Love the term "proto-hippie." emoticon

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JENNYGUMP21 2/16/2011 11:23AM

    Good morning! I just have to say, you are so funny and such a cleaver writer! You should be a proffesional! ; ) Actaully it was kind of like you were in my head. You worded my thoughts exactly when I go in my natural grocery store. I too am trying to eat more natural, whole foods, "clean eating". I am so glad you said the proper way to say Quinoa, I was prepared to go in asking for some "Kwen-o-ah". Yikes! Have a great day and thanks again! emoticon

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BRAVAH 2/9/2011 6:26AM

    Hilarious!

Thank you for the pronunciation tip. I would guess that it is something totally different in German, lol, but in any case, don't know that I've brave enough to even look for it here. If I do happen to run across it, though, I'm coming back to your blog for the recipe!

Cheers,
Heidi

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WYOBZM 2/8/2011 8:55PM

    emoticon You really have a BLOG talent. I love you posts.You cracked me up with the description of the store chic.

Still drinking wine? emoticon

I also love cooking shows. What is the next victim you will attack in the culinary world?

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MOSTLYH2O 2/8/2011 7:59PM

    PS Norah, do you have that fridge? I love it!!! I used to have one (Big Chill, right?) in that beautiful Jadeite green but when I sold my former home, the buyers made it and a vintage stove the same color part of the terms of the sale (and in that market, we weren't going to argue!!!)...I replaced it in white 'cause I thought I was sick of the Jadeite, but now I kind of wish I'd gotten Jadeite again instead, or the blue -- or shelled out for the two-tone...

Anyhoo, it's beeyootiful!

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MOSTLYH2O 2/8/2011 7:54PM

    Thanks to you both for the pos. comments!!! Definitely try quinoa; it's really good! Makes a nice change from brown rice or couscous or whatever. And NoraH, I TOTALLY know what you mean about the water!!!



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NORAHNICK 2/8/2011 5:54PM

    Pleeeeeeeeeeeeease don't make me laugh so hard!!! I'm having enough trouble controling my bladder thanks to all this water I'm forcing myself to drink! I laughed til I cried!!! You're a really good writer!

I have a box of KEEN-wa sitting in my pantry because I'm scared to try it. Guess I need to open it up and give it a try.

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RONI122 2/8/2011 4:48PM

    You make KEEN-wa sound very tatsy! I might just have to try a liitle!

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