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.
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.
250g butter, slightly softened
330ml brown sugar
5ml vanilla extract
625ml spelt flour
7.5ml baking powder
5ml bicarbonate of soda
10ml ground cinnamon
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.
* You can replace the spelt flour with cake flour or a 50/50 mixture of whole wheat and cake flour.
RED QUINOA SALAD
180ml red quinoa
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
60ml olive oil
30ml balsamic vinegar
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
1kg sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 onion, diced
5ml ground cumin
30ml fresh ginger, grated
2 red chillies, seeded and chopped
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.
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
10ml olive oil
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
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