Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ancient Grains

I'll admit, I was heavily influenced by Heidi Swanson's recent post. That, combined with my latest personal challenge to use what's on hand, produced a marvelous lunch along with leftovers for today. I've been experimenting with different grains. We all have a tendency to reach for rice when we think of grains. I love the many varieties of Lundberg Farms rices and using jasmine or basmati rice offers some nice variety, too. But there's more to grains than rice and there are many more grains with far more interesting textures and flavors as well as more nutritional value than rice.

Quinoa, is not really a grain. It's actually the botanical fruit of an herb plant that is treated like a grain. Grown in the Andes Mountains of South America, this ancient grain, known as the mother grain, has survived throughout the ages and has now become known as the Superfood of the Future.

I was first introduced to quinoa (keen-wah) by Steve at Rancho Gordo. I followed the simple cooking instructions provided and was delighted with the results. I later found an interesting recipe in the NY Times for quinoa with caramelized onions and have made that several times.

With yesterday's batch, instead of cooking it in water, one cup liquid to a half cup quinoa, I used vegetable stock that I'd made the day before. While the quinoa cooked, I sautéed half a vidalia onion, cut in wedges, a good sized jalepeño chili, sliced lengthwise with seeds removed, and a handful of broccoli florets.

Meanwhile, I had some diced butternut squash roasting in a 425° oven, just lightly coated in olive oil and a dash of tamari. When all components were ready, I followed Heidi's example and filled a bowl with the goodies. To give the dish a hint of Thai flavoring, I used an embellishment of freshly chopped cilantro and a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice over the quinoa along with some salt and pepper.

Be adventurous. Try something new. It's a stretch to call quinoa new. This is a food staple that's been around over 5,000 years. But it is new to many of us North Americans.

Till next time . . . keep on cooking.


Freya said...

Hi Joyce! You have inspired me again! I recently bought some quinoa but I haven't used it yet, looks like I will be really soon though...

Asha said...

I checked out that Lundberg rice vareity,looks great.One of these days,I will order some.
Never cooked with Quinoa but have seen in many Indian blogs.Looks great for light meal.

mary said...

I love quinoa! We've been using it in my house for years now and it's great to see others enjoying it as well! Your site and Heidi's are really making me hungry! Time to get out the camera and get to work on my own site. Thanks for the inspiration!