Saturday, March 22, 2008


Quinoa (pron. keen-wah) reveals my inner six year old. For years I couldn't pronounce it, hadn't tried it and assumed I would hate it. I figured it was one of the stinky items on the hot bar at Whole Foods that had no place on my plate. Then I tried it. Its nutritional stats are commendable: no gluten, high protein - it's considered a nutritionally complete food. And it's tasty.

I've experienced irrational fear of other consumables including: poi (which I habitually confuse with the carp in Japanese gardens), scrapple (needs no explanation, I'm sure), shepherd's pie (I saw a production of Sweeney Todd. The line,"...shepherd's pie with actual shepherd" scared the scrapple out of me), chai ("Tea!" you're shouting. "It's just tea!" I say if it is tea, call it that and I'll have some. Chai sounds like something scraped off the surface of a pond.), and corn dogs because a) doesn't a hot dog cause enough trouble on its own? and b) what even is a corn dog?

Maybe someday I'll get over these aversions and extol the virtues of the corn dog. Until then, try quinoa. I think you'll like it.

Print recipe only here

Serves four as a side dish

In a covered saucepan, bring to a boil:
* 2 cups water
* 1 cup quinoa, rinsed

Cover, reduce heat to lowest setting and cook for about 20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.

Sauté in 1-2 T olive oil, about ¼ cup each of:
* Leeks, finely sliced and chopped a bit
* Celery, finely chopped
* Red pepper, finely chopped
* One shallot, minced

When softened, add to quinoa with salt and pepper to taste. Also add:
* ¼ cup sliced almonds, smashed a bit with your hands as you add them

Stir all together, taste for seasoning and serve.


Unknown said...

Hi Katie!

I don't saute my veggies anymore, I toss them in raw (choppped very fine)and like it better that way - gives it some crunch and wonderful color! I usually do carrot, red pepper, asparagus, (and or broccoli)celery, onion (sweet variety), italian parsley, raw almonds and a squeeze of lemon. with the olive oil. Yum! Fresh and Springy!

Katie Fairbank said...

I trust you since you're the one who first imparted quinoa wisdom upon me. BUT...I love to saute! A spring version with asparagus and lemon and parsley sounds great. And what a great way to make use of seasonal ingredients. Thanks for adding. :)

Unknown said...

There it is again! No (or low) gluten as a selling point. Is gluten bad?

Katie Fairbank said...

For the majority of eaters, no, gluten is not bad. It is a major problem for people with celiac disease (an autoimmune disorder where gluten causes the body to attack itself).

I don't cook for anyone with CD (though a few Pinch readers follow a gluten-free diet). The main reason why I tend to favor lower-gluten foods is because it's my tendency to eat a grain heavy diet and I'm always trying to balance my diet better.

Anonymous said...

Hahahah... You're post made me laugh:-) I've recently discovered the wonders of Quinoa as well (something I long considered hippie food). I've used it as as a substitute for everything from cous cous to ground pork.

Katie Fairbank said...

Marc - thanks for visiting. I may have to post about cous cous too. Such a silly name. I think you're right: quinoa is hippie food. But it deserves to be prepared and consumed by the greater population.

Anonymous said...

This looks good Katie - it would make a nice lunch too

On the saute question, I like to make this kind of recipe with half of the veg sauteed and half raw for a bit of crunch

Katie Fairbank said...

Thanks, Sophie.

I have to say, I'm still committed to sauteing. I feel like I get enough crunch by merely sweating the veggies to lock in color. It takes a lot of cooking to make pepper and celery mushy - and the almonds add a nice crunch, too. Still, I wonder if I'm missing out on the raw-half raw idea. I'll try it sometime and report back.:)