Quinoa- the super grain. Basic steamed preparation and first impressions.

Steamed Quinoa recipeI finally got around to picking some quinoa up from Whole Foods. You can get it bulk there for $2.49/lb. or buy it prepackaged for $1.69 for a pound bag. Both are organic, so I went for prepack. I’ve been hearing alot of buzz about this stuff. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is this ancient super grain that is unusually complete in protein(has all 8 amino acids). Sounds good for you vegetarians out there. I’m no nutrition anthro…. encyclopedia, so here’s what wikipedia has to say about the nutritional qualities:

Quinoa was of great nutritional importance in pre-Columbian Andean civilizations, being secondary only to the potato, and followed in third place by maize. In contemporary times this crop has come to be highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete food. This means it takes less quinoa protein to meet one’s needs than wheat protein. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten free and considered easy to digest. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered as a possible crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration manned spaceflights.

Well if it’s good enough for the astronaut’s, it’s good enough for me. I love freeze dried ice cream! The real question is whether or not it can replace my white rice I live off of. In fact, you’re supposed to cook with this stuff just like rice.

Preparing steamed quinoa:

  1. Wash the quinoa in cold water. Same thing you do with rice- it gets off any coatings, etc. I’d suggest running water through it with a very small strainer. These things like to float, so be careful not to accidentally pour them down the sink. Maybe try to spritz a little water in there to get them a little wet before you turn the faucet onto it.
  2. Throw it in your rice pot. 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water.
  3. Hit the “cook” button.

The directions may be similar to rice preparation, but these things don’t behave nearly the same. First, washing them is harder because they like to roll around and float when you add water. Second, be prepared that the cooked quinoa will have these weird wormy stringy things. That’s the germ spiraling out of the quinoa. Third, quinoa likes to jump around alot when heated. It made a decent mess in my rice pot.

It actually tastes pretty good. Texture is different- firmer and rounder. It has a little bite to it, making it almost crunchy. Think al dente pasta. It tastes mostly water from the steam and a little grainy. It does hold up to flavors well. I used it as I would with rice: added some soy sauce. Worked out well enough. It won’t replace my Thai jasmine rice, but could work well given the right recipes. It seems to keep well in the refridgerator(sealed container) and reheats in the microwave really well.

I really wanted to try to make a risotto with quinoa. I’m still working out the kinks of the recipe, but it does taste good. Toasting this stuff is harder because it jumps out of the pan alot, like tiny popcorn. Really, quinoa seems to make a mess any time I do something with it. It’s on my kitchen floor, in my sink, on my stove top, stuck to the top of my rice cooker, etc. There’s got to be a better way to maintain control. I’ll keep working on that quinoa risotto recipe. I didn’t let the white wine reduce enough in my first batch and I overtoasted the second batch. The first batch tasted good when reheated the next day and the second batch was toasty and that made it a little too salty. I’ll post up as I get good recipes.

This article has 7 Comments. Click to view!

7 Comments to “Quinoa- the super grain. Basic steamed preparation and first impressions.”

  1. cookingnerd
    March 12, 2008

    Hey hey! Added you guys back on my blogroll. Love your reviews!

  2. roatha
    March 13, 2008

    hey! thanks for the add and for stopping by!

  3. Ines
    November 15, 2008

    Cooked quinoa for the first time today and on a low fire gently bubbling it mad eno mess at all.
    I enjoyed it with wilted spinach and veal mince (prepared cottage pie style) and it was nice. I grabbed the bag of quinoa for lack of potatoes and it was a great substitute.
    Am glad it has so much nutrition and will start experimenting with it more.

  4. Barbara Brock
    December 2, 2010

    how much of the “good stuff” is lost through cooking or steaming. can u eat it raw?

  5. Pasta Dies
    February 21, 2011

    I tried this last Sunday.I am not an experienced chef but all was right at the dinner table.Really I enjoyed it!!!

  6. Cesar Cuneo
    January 9, 2012

    Yes their is a Quinoa cereal which is raw and very nutritious. visit the website.

  7. JayLene Seeley
    January 11, 2012

    Add more flavor by substituting your favorite broth for the water. It is FANTASTIC!

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