15 February 2012


Ever since I first saw quinoa, read a bit more about what it is, and where it comes from, and what sorts of things you can eat it with, I wanted to try it.  However, it struck me as the obscure sort of food that would be hard to get here in New Zealand, and if I could get it, it would cost me an arm and a leg, and then there was the chance I wouldn't even like the stuff.

As luck would have it, you can get it really quite cheaply from the bulk bins at most major supermarkets (I got just over 1 cup's worth and it only cost $3.95!), and if they don't have it in bulk bins, you can find it in the specialty sections where they keep the gluten-free/dairy-free/organic products.

Gina from skinnytaste.com sums up beautifully what quinoa is, so I'll just let her tell you the technicals... 

"Quinoa (KEEN-wah) is a protein packed ancient seed from South America, similar to the texture of brown rice when cooked with a nutty flavor. It contains all 9 essential amino acids, lysine, phosphorous, copper, iron and magnesium and it is easy to make. It's not truly a grain, it's actually a relative of spinach. 

It is recommended that you soak and rinse the seeds well before cooking. Once cooked the seeds expand about 4 times their original size, so 1 cup of uncooked quinoa seeds yields approximately 4 cups cooked quinoa. Preparation is simple, 1 cup quinoa, 2 cups water or broth and is done in about 15 minutes."

It is also from Gina that I got the instructions on how to cook this tiny grain.  I didn't realise how tiny these grains would be, pre-cooking, and so when I got them home, I realised they would slip right through the existing sieves we had in the cupboard.  So I got Dad to buy a good quality sieve with really fine weaved mesh, that was smaller than the quinoa.  

Once I could finally rinse the quinoa, it was time to make it!  Here's how:

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water (or broth) 
salt to taste

  • Wash quinoa and put into a medium saucepan
  • Add quinoa, water and salt
  • Cover and boil for 15 minutes, or until the water has all absorbed
  • You will know they are cooked when they are fluffy and you can see a small thread
  • Fluff with a fork and it's ready to be used for other recipes!
  • Can be stored in the fridge for 3 or 4 days, and reheated in the microwave

So, my verdict?  I did rinse it, a few times, thoroughly, stirring it around the sieve with a spoon while the water was running through.  While it was cooking (I used water this time, to try it untainted; next time I'll try cooking it with vegetable stock/broth) there was a yeasty tangy sort of smell which was a bit unusual, not sure if that's how it's supposed to smell, and it carried through to the taste a little bit.  I liked the texture though, but with the curry I served it with, it kind of got a bit lost in the curry.  

I'm not giving up on quinoa though!  I'm going to try it a few more ways, with some recipes I've earmarked on my Pinterest board of "Recipes to Try", and I do like its potential to appear regularly in our diet, since it's so easy to prepare and it's so very good for you!! :)

Recipe Inspiration: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2009/02/basic-quinoa-recipe-4-pts.html

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