Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Quinoa



I was planning on eating tempeh, which I could've sworn I bought recently. However I couldn't find any in the fridge. For once, I wasn't in the mood for beans, so I ended up eating blueberry muesli, soy milk, and a granola bar for dinner. And then I remembered that I needed leftovers for lunch. I scanned the pantry and found an old bag of quinoa (pronounced "keenwa") that I bought in September of last year.

Most quinoa sold in stores is off-white, but like corn, there are varieties that sprout multicolored seeds. It's really an amazing food. It's not a true grain, but rather a botanical fruit. And though soy beans are usually touted as the sole vegetarian "complete protein," it's now known that quinoa shares this distinction. In fact, due to its superior amino acid profile (including generous amounts of lysine), mineral and vitamin content, and ease of preparation, quinoa is being studied by NASA's Controlled Ecological Life Support program.

Quinoa, the "mother grain" of the Incas, almost went extinct during the Spanish colonization of South America. Along with its cousin, amaranth, quinoa fields were burned by the Spanish to disrupt the native food supply and undermine the non-Christian rituals that relied heavily on the grain and its harvest. We only have it today because a few remote villages kept growing the plant even though it was once illegal to do so.

A
1 medium onion diced
2 Tbsp olive oil

B
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp celery seed

C
2 cups quinoa, vigorously rinsed (quinoa has a bitter saponin coating which helps it repel insects)
4 cups water
3 carrots, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp black pepper



Sauté A until translucent. Add B. Stir vigorously for about 1/2 a minute, then add C. Bring to a high boil, mix well, then lower heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes turn off the heat, fluff with a fork, then let it rest for 10 minutes. Serves 4.

The aroma of the finished dish was too much to resist, so I treated myself to two dinners :).

Quinoa with Carrots and Bell Peppers



On a sidenote, instead of spending my lunch surfing the Net, I went to the garden patio at work and did yoga. I really need to get back to a semi-daily yoga practice.