Quinoa or also called quinoa has recently started to appear in blogs, articles, and gastronomy recipe books, besides appearing in all supermarkets, thus becoming one of the foods known as “superfoods”.
So we came to ask ourselves why is it that we had not integrated quinoa into our dishes before? So then we must know what is quinoa? Although it is a product that is commonly associated with very similar products such as couscous or rice, it should be clear that quinoa is not a cereal.
What is quinoa?
Quinoa is a seed. However, it has such incredible and exceptional characteristics that it can be consumed as a cereal, which is why it is also known as a pseudocereal.
Quinoa is an Andean plant native to the area around Lake Titicaca, in Bolivia and Peru. Its name in the native language means mother grain. It is one of the main food crops of the pre-Columbian cultures of Latin America. It provides the same amount of energy and fiber as whole grains, many minerals, and vegetable proteins.
Properties of quinoa
As indicated above, it has such exceptional properties that make it unique vegetable food that possesses all the essential vitamins and amino acids.
According to the FAO, the nutritional values of quinoa are that per 100 grams it has 399 kilocalories, 16.5 grams of proteins, 69 grams of carbohydrates, and 6.3 grams of fats. Although it also has but in smaller quantities, some minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, and calcium.
Likewise, quinoa has acids such as omega 3 and omega 6, and folic acid. And thanks to all these properties, it is considered a superfood, highly recommended for children, people who practice sports, and people who have constipation, intestinal, digestive, or pregnant women.
It is also highly recommended for all people who wish to lose weight and for vegetarians since quinoa is an excellent meat substitute. Another excellent characteristic is that it does not contain gluten, being a great option for celiac people to include in their diet, and it is also ideal for diabetics thanks to its low glycemic index. And thanks to all the good properties it has, in 2013 the UN declared it as the International Year of Quinoa.
2) Types of quinoa
Before knowing how to prepare quinoa, you should know that there are three different types of quinoa, red, black, and white. Each one has a particular characteristic that makes it more adaptable to certain types of dishes and preparation.
- White Quinoa
Royal or white quinoa is the most popular variety of quinoa. It has a mild flavor and a light, fluffy texture. It can be ideally adapted to various types of recipes.
It is the quinoa that contains the fewest calories. Also, it is very rich in minerals, vitamins, and proteins.
- Black Quinoa
This quinoa results from the combination of mixing spinach and quinoa seeds. It is a hybrid of greater texture, with a sweeter and crunchier flavor. It is very rich in antioxidants and lithium, besides having healing and anti-inflammatory properties.
Consuming it is very useful to regulate stress and the nervous system, besides containing antioxidants and healing and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Red Quinoa
Red quinoa has a more intense flavor, very similar to nutty quinoa, and it is suggested to be eaten with fruits or salads.
It has a high nutritional value, very rich in folic acid, and contains more carbohydrates and fiber than the other two types of quinoa (white and black). This makes it ideal to be consumed in the diets of athletes.
How to cook quinoa?
The recent superfood craze started somehow with quinoa, and it is a must-try food. We should not attribute magical powers to it, but quinoa is a very healthy product that can also be delicious. The problem is that we do not always cook it well.
Cooking it is not difficult: it is enough to cook it in plenty of liquid until it is ready, like rice or pasta. However, the difference between a watery and mushy dough or an enjoyable snack lies in the details of that cooking.
Neither bland nor watery, the best quinoa is fluffy and slightly crunchy.
Tasty quinoa has to have a slightly loose, fluffy grain with a gentle resistance to biting. We do not want a porridge with a rubbery or mushy texture, bland and sad; only in rare exceptions will we be interested in obtaining a creamier finish.
Let’s think about rice or pasta itself: isn’t there an abyss of flavor between well-cooked rice, with loose grains, and al dente pasta? The same thing happens with quinoa. And it may be somewhat tasteless on its own, but the same happens with other cereals or any cooked pasta.
Step 1 : Wash
Although its industrialization has made quinoa come already clean, packaged, and ready for cooking and consumption, it is advisable to wash the seeds well before cooking.
This previous washing is done under the tap with cold water for a few minutes. The seeds should be rubbed gently and then drained. With this washing, we remove the layer of saponins that covers the seeds since the saponin in big quantities can be toxic for our health.
Step 2: Toast the raw quinoa before cooking it
This trick always works no matter what the recipe is. The ideal is to use a casserole or frying pan with a thick bottom, which transmits the heat well over high heat. We can use a little oil to prevent it from sticking and to enrich it even more, but it is very well toasted on its own. Depending on the dish, it may also be advisable to brown it together with spices ground such as caraway, cumin, or turmeric.
Step 3 : Cooking
Cooking quinoa is simple, very similar to cooking rice. Two parts of water (some producers recommend up to three parts) are used for each part of quinoa.
We must heat the water with salt. Once the water starts to boil, add the quinoa. We let it cook for about 15 minutes, over medium heat, in a covered pot, always keeping an eye on our seeds.
We know that the quinoa has reached its optimum cooking when the seeds double their original volume and become transparent. To obtain perfect quinoa, the grain must be slightly loose and spongy, with a crunchy texture.
Step 4: Let it rest
When it is ready, quinoa can retain a lot of liquid, so to get a nice texture we must drain it so it is not gummy.
Then, we must put it back in the container where we cooked it while it is still hot and cover it for a few minutes. This way, the quinoa will rest and will be delicious.
As the last recommendation, if you want to give it another layer of flavor you can add a little olive oil and aerate it with a fork to separate the seeds and let them all absorb the flavor of the olive oil, this gives it a unique touch.
Quinoa is such a versatile food that there is an infinite number of recipes that can be prepared with it. Therefore, today we bring you our favorite recipes with quinoa.
Quinoa Recipe 1
Quinoa stir-fry with broccoli and vegetables
This is a very tasty recipe and can be prepared in just about 20 minutes.
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 50 grams of cooked corn
- 100 gr of quinoa
- 50 ml soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- 1 lemon
First, we cook the quinoa as we explained in the previous point, and while the quinoa is cooking we are going to sautÃ© a finely chopped onion in a large frying pan. Then add the carrot and start sautÃ©ing. Once the onion is golden brown we add some broccoli florets and brown until it takes a bright color.
Then, add the cooked corn and the pre-cooked quinoa and mix everything well so that all the flavors are integrated. In a bowl, we are going to mix the soy sauce with the honey and the lemon juice, and we add this mixture to the pan and mix well so that all the vegetables and the quinoa absorb the sauce, and this delicious dish is ready.
To decorate and give it a little more aroma, we can serve and put some chopped chives or parsley on top.
Quinoa Recipe 2
Quinoa Burger with Guacamole
Everyone loves burgers, right? Well, this is a recipe with all the delicious taste of a hamburger but without so much fat and healthier.
- 250 gr cooked quinoa
- 4 tablespoons of oatmeal
- 4 tablespoons bread crumbs
- 1 grated carrot
- 1 egg
- 2 garlic
- 1 tomato
- 1 tablespoon parsley
- Guacamole to spread on the buns
The first thing we are going to do is to prepare the dough for the hamburgers. In a large bowl, we are going to add the cooked quinoa, the oatmeal, a beaten egg, a grated carrot, 4 tablespoons of bread crumbs, 2 chopped garlic, 1 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix everything very well until all the ingredients are integrated, and we have a homogeneous dough.
Then, we are going to prepare 4 hamburgers with the previous mixture, and we grill them for 2 minutes on each side at high heat. Once you have them ready, put them on a hamburger bun, add guacamole, tomato, and lettuce, and we can enjoy some delicious quinoa burgers.
Quinoa Recipe 3
Caramelized shrimp with quinoa
The shrimp are tasty, and their flavor complements well with the flavor of the quinoa. To make this recipe, you need the following ingredients:
- 6 shrimp
- 100 gr of quinoa
- 1 ginger
- 2 garlic
- 2 tablespoons of honey
We start cooking the quinoa, and once it is ready, we let it rest, and we are going to save some quinoa stock. Then peel the shrimp and roast them with a little olive oil in a hot pan for two minutes on each side. Next, we chop the ginger and garlic and add them together with the honey to caramelize the shrimp. To serve, first, place a bed of quinoa on top of the caramelized shrimp and finally sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the quinoa stock that we reserved when we cooked it.
As you can see, Quinoa is a great food to add to your diet. We hope you enjoy these recipes as well!