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Super food with a super grain - recipes

Johannesburg - Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) was eaten by the Incas thousands of years ago but lately it has developed a reputation as a superfood.

This is because it contains high quantities of complete protein, large amounts of fibre and a host of vitamins and minerals.

Red quinoa salad. Picture: Bongiwe MchunuSpicy quinoa and sweet potato soup. Picture: Bongiwe MchunuQuinoa granola. Picture: Bongiwe MchunuQuinoa cookies. Picture: Bongiwe MchunuQuinoa vegetable bake. Picture: Bongiwe MchunuQuinoa crustless quiche. Picture: Bongiwe MchunuWhite quinoa, top, and the nuttier, crunchier red quinoa, below.

Quinoa is also gluten-free, easy to prepare and extremely versatile.

I have seen it in South Africa in two varieties, white and red, and both are prepared in the same way.

To cook the quinoa, add one part of the grain to two parts liquid in a saucepan. Add a generous pinch of salt. 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 detach itself, appearing like a white-spiralled tail, also referred to as the halo. Remove the pot from the heat and leave covered for about 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. I got inspiration for most of my recipes from the recipe book, Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming.

It is packed full of recipes using quinoa grain and quinoa flour. It is available from Readers Warehouse and sells for R129.

QUINOA COOKIES

Makes 18-20

250g butter, slightly softened

330ml brown sugar

2 eggs

5ml vanilla extract

625ml spelt flour

7.5ml baking powder

5ml bicarbonate of soda

10ml ground cinnamon

300ml oats

500ml cooked cold quinoa

250ml desiccated coconut

100ml sunflower seeds

100ml flax seeds

100ml sesame seeds

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon and add to the creamed mixture.

Add the oats, quinoa, coconut and seeds and mix.

Take large spoonfuls of the mixture – about the size of a golf ball – and place on a greased and lined baking tray. Flatten slightly with your hand.

Space apart to allow room for spreading. Bake at 180°C for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove and cool. Store in an airtight container.

RED QUINOA SALAD

Serves 6

180ml red quinoa

375ml water

250g bocconcini mozzarella balls, drained

30ml olive oil

salt and pepper

30ml fresh thyme

2-3 baby marrows, diced

1 red onion, finely diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 yellow pepper, diced

100g baby figs, quartered

60ml pomegranate rubies

Dressing

60ml olive oil

30ml balsamic vinegar

15ml honey

10ml Dijon mustard

5ml chopped garlic

Boil the quinoa in the water until soft. Fluff with a fork and spread on to a tray to cool completely.

Halve the bocconcini balls and mix with the olive oil, seasoning and thyme. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.

Put the quinoa in a bowl and add the marrows, onion, peppers and figs. Add the bocconcini and toss to combine. Mix in the dressing.

Spoon into a serving dish and scatter over the pomegranate rubies.

DRESSING: Combine all the ingredients in a screw top jar and shake well to combine.

SPICY QUINOA AND SWEET POTATO SOUP

Serves 4-6

1kg sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

15ml oil

1 onion, diced

5ml ground cumin

30ml fresh ginger, grated

2 red chillies, seeded and chopped

125ml quinoa

500ml vegetable stock

2 stalks of lemongrass, bruised with a rolling pin

400ml tin of coconut milk

125ml chopped coriander

coriander leaves to garnish

Cook sweet potatoes in boiling water for 10 minutes or until tender. Set aside.

Heat oil in saucepan and lightly cook the onion, cumin, ginger and chillies.

Add the quinoa, stock and lemongrass and simmer, covered, until quinoa is tender.

Remove and discard the lemongrass. Add the sweet potatoes, coconut milk and coriander to the pot and blend with a hand-held blender until smooth. Stir over medium heat until the soup is heated through.

Serve with coriander.

QUINOA GRANOLA

500ml rolled oats

180ml flaked almonds

125ml pumpkin seeds

125ml quinoa, uncooked

60ml sesame seeds

100ml flaked coconut

125ml pecan nuts, roughly chopped

200ml maple syrup

5ml ground cinnamon

250ml dried cranberries

Measure the oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, sesame seeds, coconut and pecan nuts into a large bowl. Mix well.

Combine the maple syrup and vanilla in a jug and add to the oat mixture. Stir until evenly distributed.

Sprinkle the cinnamon over the mixture and mix well. Spread the granola evenly on a large baking sheet covered with baking paper and bake in a preheated oven at 120°C for 50-60 minutes, stirring halfway. Remove and set aside to cool.

Toss in the cranberries. You can store the granola in a sealed container for up to four weeks.

QUINOA CRUSTLESS QUICHE

250ml water

10ml olive oil

60ml flour

4 eggs

60ml milk

60ml fresh basil, finely sliced

4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

250ml grated mature cheddar cheese

80ml grated Parmesan

1 packet black olives, pitted and halved

2 discs of feta, cubed

Bring the water and quinoa to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat and leave the covered saucepan on the stove for another 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease an ovenproof dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onion and garlic until tender.

Whisk together the flour, eggs and milk in a large bowl. Add the quinoa, sautéed onion and the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Pour into the prepared dish and bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown and set.

Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.

Slice and serve hot or cold.

QUINOA VEGETABLE BAKE

250ml quinoa

500ml water

2ml salt

30ml butter

1 head of broccoli, in florets

250g button mushrooms, sliced

150g exotic mushrooms, sliced

125g ready-made basil pesto

250ml grated cheddar cheese plus extra 60ml for topping

250g ricotta cheese

250g sour cream

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Spray an ovenproof dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Bring the quinoa, water and salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Turn the heat off and leave the covered saucepan for a further 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large pot and add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in the broccoli, mushrooms and red pepper and cook until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add the pesto. Remove from the heat and stir in the quinoa.

Beat the eggs in a medium bowl and stir in the cheeses and sour cream. Mix well.

Season with salt and pepper and fold into the vegetable-quinoa mixture.

Spread into the prepared dish and top with the extra cheese.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until set.

Pictures: Bongiwe Mchunu and Timothy Bernard

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