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Quinoa


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Where can I buy quinoa to prepare at home? Which stores carry it and where is it aisle-wise (e.g., should I be looking in produce or next to rice/couscous/etc. even though it's not actually a grain?)?
The Yes! Gourmet stores also carry it. They may even have it in the bulk bins.
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I have finally decided to conquer my horror (those icky germ rings...) and try cooking quinoa at home. Any suggestions?

IMHO, the germ rings don't really detract from (or add to, either) the texture, which I like a lot. In fact, I don't really notice them at all (but I don't think I had the same issue as you when I first tried it, I just thought the rings were funky). If you want to go with something safe for your first time, try using it in your favorite tabbouleh or pilaf recipe instead of bulgur/rice. I did it with my last batch of tabbouleh and really liked it - I used some of the leftover to stuff a vegetable that I can no longer remember (maybe acorn squash?), but it was tasty.

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Thanks. Does it cook like rice? I was thinking of using chicken stock to make it.

Yes, it does cook like rice, and I agree with Monavano on using salted water or stock if you're just going to use it as a basic side dish (you can add a little shallot or a few pieces of dried mushroom too). If you're going to dress it, though, then no need.

Definitely rinse the quinoa before you cook it, because it has that soapy thing going on.

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Trader Joe's also sells an interesting "Harvest Grains" blend that has quinoa, israeli couscous, lentils, and... orzo, I think, that gives you your quinoa goodness, but cuts down on the scum. It's wonderful, very hearty- especially cooked in stock. I leave it cooking two minutes longer than the package suggests, otherwise the lentils can be a little more crunchy than I like them.

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Toast. Toast. Toast. Much moreso than risotto, toasting the quinoa first is absolutely crucial to developing its flavor. Properly toasted, it's stunningly nutty and will rocket to the top of your favorites for grain-based salads. Inadequately toasted, it comes across as weird and slightly bitter.

I concur.

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Toast. Toast. Toast. Much moreso than risotto, toasting the quinoa first is absolutely crucial to developing its flavor. Properly toasted, it's stunningly nutty and will rocket to the top of your favorites for grain-based salads. Inadequately toasted, it comes across as weird and slightly bitter.
Thanks for the tip. My first experience with quinoa was at my orthorexic in-laws' house. They cook it as hot cereal without toasting it first, and then serve it with plain yogurt. It's horrible.
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I haven't tried toasting, but this recipe (which I brought to DR picnic a few seasons back) calls for steaming after boiling. I love this recipe and the steaming step is worth the extra trouble IMHO.

The secret of the success of this salad is the steaming of the quinoa. (The tradional cooking method for quinoa, boiling it in a measured amount of water, does not produce the light, fluffy texture that works so well in a salad.)
I guess you would rinse (at least 5 times, per the linked recipe), boil, steam...I can't see where toasting comes in unless you rinse, let the stuff dry, which would probably take a while, and then proceed with the boiling.

Aha... a little more googling came up with this:

Rinse quinoa and drain. Put in a pot and dry toast until a few grains begin to pop.
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Viva La Quinoa!

Won't go quite that far, yet, though I wish I had discovered this advice:

Toast. Toast. Toast. Much moreso than risotto, toasting the quinoa first is absolutely crucial to developing its flavor. Properly toasted, it's stunningly nutty and will rocket to the top of your favorites for grain-based salads...
before adapting the technique advocated in a recipe goldenticket recommends above (cf. post dated January 28).

I had already mixed two kinds of quinoa--including red--in a jar and like the way the red grain adds crunch to what Heather calls germ-rings. Steaming the grain and letting it sit for a few minutes really improves the texture. I also felt that tossing quinoa in a well-seasoned citrus-oil dressing is a good thing to do.

I understand from Susan Hermann Loomis that quinoa is quite chic in France, but I kind of feel I should be wearing something tie-dyed while dining on the stuff. Perfectly suited to a Northern Italian mushroom stew that I mixed w leftover greens and thinly sliced, sautéed carrots.

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Won't go quite that far, yet, though I wish I had discovered this advice:

before adapting the technique advocated in a recipe goldenticket recommends above (cf. post dated January 28).

I had already mixed two kinds of quinoa--including red--in a jar and like the way the red grain adds crunch to what Heather calls germ-rings. Steaming the grain and letting it sit for a few minutes really improves the texture. I also felt that tossing quinoa in a well-seasoned citrus-oil dressing is a good thing to do.

So did you toast and then steam? Any boiling in there?

The thing I like most about the recipe I posted is that lime dressing - so I totally agree with your rating of citrus-oil dressing as a 'good thing' :rolleyes:

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While your quinoa is boiling in some chicken broth, caramelize a big frying pan's worth of sliced red peppers, zucchini and onions (or any other veggie that caramelizes well) in some olive oil. Add some finely minced garlic during the last minute or so. Toss in the cooked quinoa and stir to distribute the veggies throughout. I could eat this every day.

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So did you toast and then steam? Any boiling in there?

The thing I like most about the recipe I posted is that lime dressing - so I totally agree with your rating of citrus-oil dressing as a 'good thing' :rolleyes:

No toasting. (See what I wrote over quote from ironstomach.) As I said, I followed the technique in the epicurious recipe, to the letter, though I felt one rinse sufficed. While the lime-dressing sounds scrumptious for black beans, it didn't seem quite suitable for the mushroom stew and braised greens. Simple lemon-olive oil instead.
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1) Read that a natural coating on quinoa can be quite bitter, thus thorough rinsing best before cooking.

2) If so, can you toast the soggy, tiny pellets?

3) Concluded, at least for now, that I just am not much of a fan of warm quinoa as a side dish; alone, not a stand-in for rice, for example.

However, I've a new appreciation for quinoa at room (or outside) temperature at lunch as main-course salad. Especially good when temperature is hot. Last week I mixed wilted and raw chicories (too tough, I thought, for a green salad) w sautéed onion, dried apple rings, butter lettuce, chives & toasted walnuts. Dressed. Topped w fresh crumbles of goat cheese. Surprisingly filling and good to peck at while busy attending to other sundry matters.

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1) Read that a natural coating on quinoa can be quite bitter, thus thorough rinsing best before cooking.

2) If so, can you toast the soggy, tiny pellets?

....

Yes, rinse that saponin off right proper, lest your palate curl with much angst. And yes, toasting the damp quinoa is OK, you actually wind up steaming it a bit first before it toasts, no big deal.

But I am actually not a huge fan of the toasting. Instead, I rinse the grain vigorously, and then my super-secret-method that I learned from a chef in Charlottesville: use as much cooking water as you would for pasta. Boil for 15 minutes or so, until the grains have exploded, drain thoroughly, then proceed with your pilaf or other concoction. I've been making quinoa via this method for months, and it's a delight.

No toasting hassle, no bitterness, and an ideal crunchy texture. One recent example is pictured here: a quinoa/roasted sweet potato/avocado salad. What I liked best about this mixture was that it kept beautifully in the fridge, made amazing lunches for several days. I have the full recipe I can post, but it's long-winded, so will save the air time unless it's of interest.

post-5654-1243992972_thumb.jpg

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No toasting hassle, no bitterness, and an ideal crunchy texture. One recent example is pictured here: a quinoa/roasted sweet potato/avocado salad. What I liked best about this mixture was that it kept beautifully in the fridge, made amazing lunches for several days. I have the full recipe I can post, but it's long-winded, so will save the air time unless it's of interest.

Please post away! Would love to read it!

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Please post away! Would love to read it!

Quinoa, Sweet Potato, Avocado Salad (pasted, with a few edits, from my Flickr-based Food Forum)

post-5654-1244036233_thumb.jpg

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is completely underrated, positively misunderstood, and shockingly easy to prepare. This "super grain" offers an impressive protein profile, a nutty/crunchy bite, and bursts with versatility. OK, so it's not actually a grain at all, it's a psuedocereal, but I already said misunderstood...or something.

A couple of tips when preparing quinoa: a righteous rinse is critical. The grain can come covered in a natural coating designed to deter predatory insects, the bitterness of which will make you avoid eating it as well. A fine-mesh rise is required, and so is cooking in plenty of water. Ignore the conventional wisdom here, don't cook it one part grain to two or three parts water. Pretend this is pasta, use lots and lots of water to provide the best texture and flavor.

After rinsing, just add the quinoa to the excessive amount of water, bring to a boil, and cook for 15 minutes or until the grains have exploded. It's not as violent as it sounds, it's adorable!

Once cooked, drain thoroughly, and use as you would rice to make a pilaf, or add to a salad. Or, as pictured here, add roasted, seasoned vegetables such as one-inch diced sweet potatoes. Just before serving, add chopped avocado or a homemade vinaigrette to bind everything together and create a richer mouthfeel.

Diced, roasted sweet potatoes are a breeze to prepare. Just dice three cleaned, washed, unpeeled (organic is best, use them skins!) sweet potatoes into one inch cubes. Using a variety of sweet potatoes is fine, pictured here is both a standard sweet potato and a lighter colored, more starchy sweet potato. Mix the chopped vegetables into a bowl with a couple teaspoons of olive oil and the seasoning of your choice. The selection here included a hefty punch of salt and Penzey's Balti seasoning (includes coriander, garlic, ginger, cumin, chilies, cinnamon, brown mustard seeds, cardamom, clove, fennel,and fenugreek). You could easily use just salt and pepper with the olive oil, or any coarsely chopped fresh herb. Bake at 425 degrees on a lightly sprayed baking sheet, stirring every 15 minutes or so. The vegetables will be done in 25 to 35 minutes, depending on the moisture level of the veggies and the accurate temperature of the oven. If you would like to roast onion as well, as pictured here, add that after the first fifteen minutes of cooking time. They cook more quickly than the dense tubers. Use purple onion, the sweetness and color contrast will offer a smart enhancement.

Since this dish is for lunch later in the week, the full flavor verdict will have to wait. A quick taste via the preparation process was most promising, though. The profile included crunchiness from the quinoa, creaminess from the sweet potatoes, a deep smoky flavor from the seasoning, and an underlying sweetness from the oven-based caramelization. Balanced, healthy, and delightful, and I plan to add diced avocado just before serving to add even more creaminess. The proof will be how well it stands up after some time in the fridge, stay tuned.

The Conclusion: Two *very* enthusiastic thumbs up. Quinoa held up beautifully in the fridge for several days. The creamy texture from the avocado melded beautifully with the roasted vegetables, this was a crave-worthy repeat.

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I heart dr.com.

I came here ready to query my wise internet friends about how one managed to both rinse and toast a grain. I've often read that these two steps are indispensable, but no one source ever describes BOTH as indispensable. So, which is it, toasting or rinsing? I can't really do both, can I?

Vive dr.com, in which I learn that I *can* both rinse and toast (in that order).

Look out, quinoa, I'm coming for you.

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When you eat quinoa, you're starving impoverished Bolivians. Or enriching impoverished Bolivian swamp farmers. Or something.

Very complicated.

I was at a Solanaceae conference a few years ago and listened to a presentation, part of which discussed how Andean farmers wanted to sell all their potato crop to the gourmet chip industry. They have all sorts of beautiful varieties with pink and purple colored and striped centers, and, oddly enough, it seems that the gourmet chip industry will be responsible for preserving the diversity of these plants. At the same time, however, there is no grocery store down the street where the farmers can buy food, so those who are more interested in the people than the potatoes are trying to convince them to sell some, but leave enough to eat. It's an interesting phenomenon for a region that developed some fascinating domesticates. Here's hoping the descendants of the first people who planted quinoa and potatoes end up the winners on all fronts.

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I heart dr.com.

I came here ready to query my wise internet friends about how one managed to both rinse and toast a grain. I've often read that these two steps are indispensable, but no one source ever describes BOTH as indispensable. So, which is it, toasting or rinsing? I can't really do both, can I?

Vive dr.com, in which I learn that I *can* both rinse and toast (in that order).

Look out, quinoa, I'm coming for you.

AND it's the Whole Grains Council grain of the month. I just saw that as a factoid in the Nutrition Action Healthletter April edition, last page, in the Right Stuff column.

(nevermind that it's not a grain)

(it's a goosefoot family pseudocereal)

(then again aren't we all)

Man, I love the stuff. Ever cooked it in orange juice as part of a breakfast concoction? Dynamite.

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I heart dr.com.

I came here ready to query my wise internet friends about how one managed to both rinse and toast a grain. I've often read that these two steps are indispensable, but no one source ever describes BOTH as indispensable. So, which is it, toasting or rinsing? I can't really do both, can I?

Vive dr.com, in which I learn that I *can* both rinse and toast (in that order).

Look out, quinoa, I'm coming for you.

Seconded. I'd been considering adding it to our repetoire, and now I know how :)

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1) Read that a natural coating on quinoa can be quite bitter, thus thorough rinsing best before cooking.

2) If so, can you toast the soggy, tiny pellets?

3) Concluded, at least for now, that I just am not much of a fan of warm quinoa as a side dish; alone, not a stand-in for rice, for example.

However, I've a new appreciation for quinoa at room (or outside) temperature at lunch as main-course salad. Especially good when temperature is hot. Last week I mixed wilted and raw chicories (too tough, I thought, for a green salad) w sautéed onion, dried apple rings, butter lettuce, chives & toasted walnuts. Dressed. Topped w fresh crumbles of goat cheese. Surprisingly filling and good to peck at while busy attending to other sundry matters.

The soapy coating is usually removed when the quinoa is processed. I have only bought it without the natural coating at Whole Foods and the local food co-op. The restaurant where I work recently ran a pan seared cod special. It was served on a bed of red quinoa with sauteed spinach and mushroom. Very tasty.

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Now that NYTs is charging heavy online users, I am not going to link article, but this past Sunday (3/20/11) there was yet another story (heard it before) about the consequences of the fashionableness of quinoa in Europe and North America. Bolivian farmers are getting more money, but most Bolivians can no longer afford to eat what used to be a dirt-cheap, highly nutritious staple in their diets.

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Costco is selling four pound bags of pre-rinsed organically grown quinoa. (Does quinoa actually come any other way but organically grown?) Can't remember the price. Online bloggers say $7.99. Which is a lot more expensive than rice.

Well, not more expensive than organically grown Cajun Grain brown jasmine rice, for which I willingly shell out almost $2.50 a pound.

But when buying Cajun Grain brown jasmine rice I feel like I am helping Louisiana farmers while now I wonder whether when buying quinoa I am starving Bolivian peasants. But what about the quinoa farmers? Aren't I raising their standard of living?

The decision is then fraught by the fact that I'd really rather eat rice than quinoa. I am a south Louisiana gal, grew up on rice. Quinoa is fiddly tasting, won't cling together on the fork, crunches funny in the mouth. Quinoa instead of rice in jambalaya? Red beans and quinoa? Hmmmmm. Decisions.

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Had some interesting quinoa soup at a Bolivian restaurant in Springfield, in the site of the old Village Chicken, formerly a Peruvian chicken restaurant, still (improbably) called Village Chicken, 6715 Backlick Road Springfield, VA 22150.

My honest review of the restaurant in general is that it's plain home cooking if your mom is Bolivian, and a good cook but not a superlative cook. I went there because it was reviewed by Tom Sietsema and I work in Springfield. Only went there once, so far, so not enough to start a new thread for it. I just wanted to mention the quinoa soup.

The broth was pleasing, meaty tasting, as well as vegetal, lots of parsley and herbs. Maybe half a white potato, maybe half a hacked chicken leg, a piece of beef, one by three inches, cooked into submission, in a largish bowl. Not much else to say about the soup as soup so let's move on.

I like soup. And now I like quinoa soup. The server, probably also one of the owners, told me that the quinoa is cooked along with everything else, from the beginning.

The quinoa was almost completely translucent, giving a very pleasant body to the broth. All you could really see of the quinoa was the little semicircular germ, although the quinoa itself had not completely dissolved, and remained distinct. I liked the effect well enough to say I found it revelatory, and intend to put quinoa in soups and braises as a thickener for the foreseeable future, because I am not eating wheat anymore, and it seems like an ideal way to thicken broth without gluten, that is to say, without flour. Not slimy as oat groats can be, not starchy and absorbing everything around it as rice can do. Not like anything else at all, and very nice.

Of course one could expect Bolivian moms to know how to cook with quinoa, but who knew what Bolivian moms actually do with quinoa? Why didn't I ask myself that before?

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