Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) is an ancient seed but is referred to as a grain and was eaten by the Incas thousands of years ago. Lately it has developed a reputation as a superfood, because it is the only grain to contain high quantities of complete protein, large amounts of fibre and a whole host of other vitamins and minerals.
Quinoa is also gluten-free, easy to prepare and extremely versatile.
It is interesting to note that the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the UN (FAO) has officially declared that this year be recognised as the International Year of Quinoa.
To cook quinoa, add one part of the grain to two parts liquid in a saucepan. After the mixture is brought to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cover. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes, depending on the quantity.
Once cooked the grains will become translucent, and the white germ will partially detached itself, appearing like a white-spiralled tail also referred to as the halo.
Quinoa will have a nuttier flavour if you dry roast it in the pot for about 3-4 minutes before cooking.
QUINOA VEGGIE BURGERS
30ml olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 small red pepper, seeded and finely chopped
10ml chopped garlic
5ml ground coriander
5ml ground cumin
500ml cooked quinoa
400g can of chickpeas, drained
60ml sweet chilli sauce
125ml chopped coriander
oil for frying
buns for serving
sliced red onion
Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion, celery, carrot, pepper and garlic until soft. Add the spices and fry until fragrant. Remove and cool.
Tip the mixture into a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the quinoa, chickpeas, egg, sweet chilli sauce and coriander and process until well blended. Remove the mixture from the processor and shape it into patties. Refrigerate the patties for a few hours.
When ready to cook, heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and fry the patties on both sides until golden brown. Drain on paper towel.
Serve on buttered buns with rocket, tomato and onion.
The patties are also delicious served with a side salad.
QUINOA TABOULI SALAD
a pinch of salt
½ English cucumber, seeded and diced
125g baby tomatoes, halved
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 avocado pear, diced
60ml chopped parsley
60ml chopped mint.
60ml lemon juice
45ml olive oil
5ml chopped garlic
salt and pepper
Put the water and salt into a pot. Rinse the quinoa well under running water in a sieve. Add to the pot and bring to the boil. Simmer, covered, until the quinoa is cooked. Drain through a sieve and spread the quinoa out on to a tray to cool.
Combine with the cucumber, tomatoes, pepper, avocado and herbs and toss well to combine. Pour the dressing over and serve.
DRESSING: Combine all the ingredients and mix well.
QUINOA AND BACON STIR FRY
125g bacon, chopped
1 red onion, sliced
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 carrot, julienned
125g baby corn, halved
125g mange tout, halved
1 small red pepper, sliced
10ml chopped ginger
5ml mustard seeds
125ml frozen peas
45ml soy sauce
60ml chopped coriander
Put the bacon in a frying pan or wok and cook until crispy. Remove and drain on paper towel.
Add the oil to the pan and fry the onion, celery, carrot, corn, mange tout and pepper until just soft. Add the ginger, garlic and spices and fry until fragrant.
Add the quinoa and peas and fry until coated with the spices.
Return the bacon to the pan. Add the soy sauce and season to taste. Serve sprinkled with coriander.
THAI QUINOA WITH TOFU
500ml quinoa, well rinsed
200ml coconut milk
A pinch of salt
160ml roughly chopped coriander
125ml peanuts or cashew nuts
125ml plum sauce
45ml sweet chilli sauce
60ml lime juice
25ml fish sauce
15ml sesame oil
250g firm tofu, cut into cubes and drained on paper towel
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
Put the quinoa in a pot with the coconut milk, water and salt. Bring to the boil and simmer until the quinoa is cooked.
Meanwhile, prepare the dressing. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until well blended and nuts are finely chopped. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the tofu until nicely browned. Drain on paper towel, then combine with about 45ml of the dressing while still warm. Set aside.
Bring a pot of water to the boil and blanch the carrots until soft. Remove and set aside. Blanch the broccoli in the same pot, remove and set aside.
When the quinoa is cooked combine it with the tofu, carrots, broccoli and remaining dressing.
Mix well and serve warm.