Miracle food

PRODUCT-dry-quinoaI’m going to an ice cream supper tonight, so why not enjoy a virtuous lunch to make up for it? I picked up some quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) this week, and I’m going to make it on the stovetop with chicken broth.

I blogged about quinoa a couple of years ago, but when has that ever stopped me from repeating myself? Quinoa is not, botanically, a grain, but from a culinary standpoint you can think of it as being in the same family with rice or couscous, with a size and cooked texture more like the latter than the former. It cooks on the stovetop or in a rice cooker (my little rice cooker has died, and I miss it terribly). Like rice or couscous, it can benefit from using a flavorful cooking liquid like broth or stock, or by adding veggies or seasonings.

When I was in Bolivia in 2007, some of the people with whom we worked had a non-profit that produced various quinoa-based products, like snack bars, as a fund-raiser and community development tool. Quinoa is native to the Andes, and the pouch I bought this week says it was produced in Boliva and/or Peru. Nutritionally, it’s fantastic – a complete and meatless protein. There’s no gluten, so it’s not a concern for those with gluten allergies, and it’s loaded with fiber and nutrients (including iron and calcium). It’s the type of thing, that, frankly, I need to be eating more often.

You can find quinoa near the rice in supermarkets, even here in Shelbyville. Some varieties (like the one I bought this week) need to be rinsed a little bit before use, to remove a chemical that can cause indigestion, while other varieties are promoted as “pre-washed” or “pre-rinsed.”

If you’ve never tried quinoa, I recommend it.