Saturday, February 7, 2009

A quinoa failure

I like quinoa. Mostly. I first had it in a cooking class...southwest quinoa salad. It was a good recipe. It's a very healthy grain, so I've been trying (off and on) to introduce it more into our diet.

Except it's not always successful. For example, I don't have a "go to" quinoa recipe that it just amazing. So I keep trying new ones.

I also like trying new cookbooks. I got a couple of new ones a year ago that were promising. One was "One Dish Meals" by the American Heart Association, and the other is "The New American Plate" by the American Institute for Cancer Research. These seemed like good ideas at the time (I ordered them when they were first out). I like healthy food.

But for some reason, I haven't tried any of the recipes. Maybe it's because they come from a more "meat-centric" standpoint - I think they are geared towards getting people eating the Standard American Diet to eat healthier. I liberally try recipes that are vegan and vegetarian.

Since I enjoy reading cookbooks, I pulled out "The New American Plate" this weekend and thumbed through it. I found a quinoa recipe with dried fruit that sounded promising. Now, in general, I'm not a big fan of fruit and grain dishes. But I decided to expand my horizons. Besides, the quote on the front of the book is from Mollie Katzen, whom I LOVE, so what could go wrong, right?

Well, it was just "meh". Actually, it was pretty gross - a complete, mushy, sticky mess, but then I added salt and pepper, and it got better. I'll eat the leftovers, but I won't repeat it. The quinoa got REALLY mushy. I'm not sure why. It was 2 cups water to one cup quinoa, which is in nearly every recipe that I try.

If I try a few more recipes and they are failures, I'll have to sell or donate the cookbook. And for now, I'll stick to salads for quinoa, and maybe soups.


The Veggie Queen said...

I can help you with your quinoa. My quinoa recipe from my book The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment is called Basic Quinoa and you can jazz it up as many ways as you can think of. Obviously if you want to add fruit, leave out the onion.

There are a couple of keys to success. Rinse the quinoa first in a fine mesh strainer. Shake off the water. Toast it in the pan and you are set to go.

Here's the recipe. It turns out pretty much perfect quinoa every time. If you do more than 1 cup of grain, substract 1/4 cup water for that.

Quick Quinoa Pilaf
Serves 4 – 6
Quinoa makes a great base for all kinds of flavorings and vegetable additions. You can vary them according to the season. The best part is that quinoa tastes the same or better the next day.
¼ cup minced onion
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 3/4 cup water or broth
¼ teaspoon salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 green onions, sliced for garnish

Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the quinoa and cook a minute or two, stirring often, until the quinoa is toasted. Add the water or broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover and simmer for 12 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Add the salt and pepper. Top with green onions.

© 2008 The Veggie Queen™, Jill Nussinow, MS, RD

Marcia said...

Ah, so toasting it and using a little less water. I'll have to try that next time. Thanks!