Quinoa is taking off in popularity as people discover it's wonderful flavor, short cooking time, and high nutritional value. Unlike most whole grains, quinoa tends to be more alkaline. This is just one of the many reasons quinoa is in the list of top four healthy grains currently promoted by nutritionists.
But you don't have to know how healthy quinoa is to enjoy it's flavor and versatility.
Cooking quinoa is little different than cooking other grains, except for one thing -- you must get rid of the bitter saponin that coats and protects the grains before cooking. Rinsing, soaking, toasting, and buying pre-rinsed grains are all options for dealing with the saponin. See the Cooking Quinoa page for more information.
The recipes here utilize the soaking method used with all grains, not just to eliminate the saponin but also to neutralize phytic acid, an anti-nutrient, and to increase digestibility and nutrient availability. The quinoa will swell during soaking to sometimes twice its original size, so less water is needed for cooking (about 1/4 cup less water per cup of grain).
Quinoa can easily be substituted for other whole grains in your favorite recipes, especially for brown rice or whole wheat cous cous. Most pasta salad recipes can be converted to grain salads by switching out the pasta with quinoa. I like them better that way! (and I was an avid pasta-lover.)
Toasting the quinoa grains before cooking will give it a stronger flavor. You can toast with a little butter or oil, or in a dry skillet, stirring constantly, for just a few minutes. I haven't tried this with soaked quinoa, but I know it works with unsoaked.
For special occasions, consider locating some red quinoa for a beautiful presentation.
This dish works great for a Fettucine Alfredo lover like me. I love hot, creamy pasta dishes, but don't care for the overly processed noodles anymore. Quinoa works perfectly. And yogurt adds all those wonderful probiotics to your meal, if you don't over-heat it.
This is a healthy dish full of Mexican flavors, with baby corn offering a sweet crunch. Spice it up as much as you want. It can also be served at room temperature with crackers for a healthy snack or appetizer. Leftovers are good wrapped in a tortilla with lettuce and thickened yogurt.
This recipe is a perfect example of turning a pasta salad recipe into a grain salad. It's better served at room temperature and after sitting for awhile or chilling overnight.
Breakfast Quinoa is divine simplicity. And it works for more than just breakfast, easily doubling as a quick and easy anytime snack.
While it's great with freshly cooked, hot quinoa, I find it equally appealing with leftover quinoa brought to room temperature on the counter for 20-30 minutes. I often travel with this dish, assembling it in a plastic lidded container, and packing a spoon in my purse.
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