Quinoa: The Super Good Superfood You Need to Get to Know

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016



Add beets to your quinoa to give it a beautiful red color. (Photo: Leah Mawson)

Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) is a grain-like seed worth getting to know. It ranks right up there with kale on the list of super foods — foods thought to be incredibly nutritious and beneficial for your health. When prepared correctly, quinoa is nutty and buttery with an absolutely wonderful texture, making it a great stand-in for couscous and many other grains. But ‘correctly’ is the operative word because when it's not prepared right, quinoa can literally leave a bitter taste in your mouth. It has an outside protein coating that is unpalatable, but this is easily remedied. The secret is to rinse the quinoa thoroughly before cooking. The importance of rinsing to improve both flavor and texture cannot be over-emphasized. Pre-rinsed quinoa still needs to be subjected to a series of rinses to remove the protein coating before it is ready to cook. 

Now that you're in the know, it’s time to step up your quinoa game! Try this powerhouse kale and quinoa salad with roasted beets, fresh ginger, and winter citrus! It’s so good you might not even notice how good it is for you!

Quinoa: The Super Good Superfood You Need to Get to Know | WGBH | Craving Boston

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 pounds beets, trimmed and rinsed (3 medium beets)
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 4 parsley sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 bunch kale, trimmed and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds,toasted
  • 1 ounce pecorino romano

 

Directions:

For the quinoa:

  1. Place the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse under cold running for 1 minute. Set aside to drain. Rinse and repeat at least 2 more times.
  2. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan cook the quinoa in 1 1/2 cups water over meadium heat, stirring frequently, until all of the water is evaporated (approximately 10 minutes). Be careful not to burn the bottom of the pan.
  3. Spread on a baking sheet to cool.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Quinoa: The Super Good Superfood You Need to Get to Know | WGBH | Craving Boston

Even if the quinoa has been properly rinsed, if it's not properly cooked, its superior flavor and firm texture will be lost. The quinoa to water cooking ratio is 1 – 1 ½. Too much water in the cooking process will overcook the quinoa and result in a flavorless mush.  Do not cover with a lid during cooking. You want to see and experience each individual grain.

For the beets:

  1. Set the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Toss the beets in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. In an ovenproof dish add the beets, the thyme, the parsley, salt, pepper, and 1/4 cup of water. Cover with foil or a tight fitting lid and roast in the oven for 1 hour or until the beets are tender enough to be easily pierced with a pairing knife.
  3. Set aside.
  4. Once cool to the touch, remove the skin and slice.

 

For the kale:

  1. Trim the leaves off the kale stems and discard stems.
  2. Slice kale into 1/2 inch ribbons.
  3. Place the kale in a large bowl.

 

For the oranges:

  1. Using a zester, remove the rind in strips (optional). Reserve for garnish.
  2. Using a microplane, zest one of the oranges and reserve for the vinaigrette.
  3. Cut away the remaining rind and pith. Begin by slicing the top and bottom off each orange. Place the orange on one flat end and remove the rind in strips. The goal is to remove all of the rind without removing much of the fruit.
  4. Supreme the orange. To supreme an orange, remove or segment the orange wedges from the membranes with a sharp knife, slicing to the left and right of each membrane.  
  5. Squeeze the juice from the membranes and reserve for the vinaigrette.

 

Quinoa: The Super Good Superfood You Need to Get to Know | WGBH | Craving Boston

 

For the vinaigrette:

  1. Add the zest of 1 orange, 3 tablespoons orange juice, ginger, sherry vinegar, 1/3 cup olive oil, salt and pepper to a mason jar.
  2. Cover with a lid and shake vigorously until emulsified.

 

Assemble the salad. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the pecorino romano into perfectly thin strips. Toss and serve immediately.

Note: it is important to season with salt and pepper during each step of preparation to ensure a well-seasoned dish. 

Other great quinoa salads include tabbouleh (cucumbers, tomatoes, lemon, mint, parsley) or some interpretation thereof (mint, parsley, lemon, fennel, dried cherries). 

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