Sunday, January 20, 2008

Have you met quinoa?

If you've never cooked with quinoa, Bishop's Quinoa Pilaf with Caramelized Onions and Toasted Pecans is a great way to start. Quinoa is considered a "supergrain" with unbelievable amounts of nutrients and protein. It cooks pretty easily and typically doesn't take too long. I don't know what happened with my dinner tonight, because it took me over an hour to get the quinoa tender and to absorb all the water. Of course, what happened is really a no-brainer; I apparently wasn't cooking at a high enough heat. I'm still in a bit of a learning curve with my Le Creuset cookware. Too high a temp and things scorch, too low and they don't get done--and the range between the two is very narrow. (I never cook above level 5--of 10 levels--when using my Le Creuset.) But, I digress.
Another thing I really like about quinoa is the way it looks after it's cooked. The grains plump up, and you can see an opaque spiral running through them. They just look very cool. The grain is also versatile, able to take on many flavors and feel right at home with all of them. One word of caution: If you're going to use quinoa, don't ignore the directions to rinse it well prior to using. The grain has a natural protective coating of a substance called saponin, which is very bitter. A good 30-seconds of rinsing is a great investment into your finished product.
This recipe starts with diced onions and bell peppers cooked for five minutes. Ummm...that doesn't really caramelize them. So, I threw them in the pan and gave them about 20 minutes, which is what it took for them to brown and take on the sweet flavor characteristic of caramelized onions. Warm spices--cinnamon and ginger--are added and toasted just long enough to bring out their fragrance. The quinoa is then added to the pan and toasted for about a minute before the water is added and the whole mixture sets to simmer. After 20-30 minutes, you should be able to fluff it up, add some toasted pecans and chopped parsley, and sit down for dinner. We were going to have this with some roasted broccoli, but it took so long to cook that we had broccoli as an appetizer while we were waiting for dinner. I love roasted veggies, but that should probably be another post entirely!


Ricki said...

Hi Michelle,

Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your comment!

Quinoa is my favorite grain by far (in fact, I think it's going to be my next "Lucky Comestible"!). This recipe looks fabulous, and well worth a try. I'm not familiar with Bishop's book, so am looking forward to leafing through it once I find a copy.


Michelle said...

We love quinoa, too. It's so versatile! I have my eye on the leftovers with a special addition for tomorrow night's dinner.