Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Mediterranean Way to Eat: Grains - Part 2


Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is one of  the most highly-nutritious and well-balanced foods in the world, which is why native Inca tribes used it in their Pagan ceremonies. It is interesting to note that Spanish Conquistadors (conquers) prohibited all people from consuming quinoa in the New World because they were superstitious about how it was used. Perhaps by consuming it they would be giving approval to foods sacrificed to idols. The Bible gives clear instruction in that area, and this food should not be an issue.

Quinoa contains the perfect balance of complete proteins and amino acids, and it's why this grain has been cherished by native cultures as superfoods. It also has a high quantity of fiber and contains no gluten, so people who are gluten intolerance can safely eat it. Its flavor resembles brown rice, but its texture is much finer is similar to couscous.With the interest in vegan and vegetarian diets, it has renewed recognition and appreciation here in Western culture.[1][2]

Quinoa has a long shelf life, since saponin protects the grain from attack by pests or insects. This protection is removed by rinsing it with water before cooking. Some industrial processing plants don't use this protective cover, so it's best to read the package instructions prior to preparing it.

How to Cook Quinoa

(YouTube link) 


Cook time: About 20 minutes
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 bunch kale leaves, torn (from about 5 stalks)
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 14.5-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 5 fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
1. Over medium heat, add the quinoa to a saucepan and toast until it pops steadily and smells nutty, about 3 minutes. Add the water, bring to a boil and loosely cover until the quinoa has absorbed most of the water, about 12 minutes. Turn off heat, stir, cover and let sit about 10 minutes. Fluff with fork and set aside to cool.
2. Over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large sauté pan. Add the kale and shallots and cook until slightly wilted, about 4 minutes.
3. Transfer the cooked kale and shallots to a large mixing bowl. Add the cooled quinoa, chickpeas, tomatoes and basil. Add a pinch or two of salt and pepper. Toss until well combined.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice and 1/3 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add 3/4 of the dressing to the salad and toss. Add additional dressing to taste. 
Serves: 6

Note: Shallots are part of the onion family and have a mild onion-garlic flavor. In place of shallots, use onion plus a pinch of garlic powder. 

Related Post
Part 1 
Part 3