Tag Archives: starch

quinoa two ways

11 Feb

I don’t know how many times I’ve accidentally given a lecture about quinoa. First off, no one seems to know how to pronounce it properly. No, it’s not QUEE-NO-AH, it’s more like KI-NWA. After that, I tend to launch into quinoa’s historic context as the “mother of all grains,” how it was the sacred food of the Incas, and the fact that it provides all of the essential amino acids of a complete protein.

Usually people let me finish my rant before they declare, “oh yeah, I’ve tried that before and it tastes like birdseed.”

Yes, it can have that crunchy texture, but if you cook it properly with lots of flavors, it can serve as the base for a hearty vegetarian main course, or refreshing grain salad similar to tabouleh. Here are two of my favorite ways to cook quinoa.

#1: main course
quinoa with mushrooms and peppers

adapted from bon appetit (photo above)

* 1 cup quinoa, rinsed thoroughly in cold water
* 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (salted water also works, but will be more bland)
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 1/2 cups onion, diced
* 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
* 1 garlic clove, chopped
* 1 8-ounce package sliced crimini (baby bella) mushrooms
* 6 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, sliced
* 3 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
* 1 cup dry white wine
* Sprig of flat leaf parsley, chopped
* Grated Parmesan cheese

Bring 2 cups of chicken broth to boil in medium saucepan. Add quinoa, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender and water is absorbed, about 13 minutes. If there is left over water, drain it off.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until onion begins to brown, 5 minutes. Add garlic; stir 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and thyme. Saute until mushrooms are tender, 6 minutes. Toss in bell peppers; sauté for another minute or so. Add wine; stir until wine is reduced and liquid is syrupy, 2 minutes.

Mix quinoa into mushroom mixture and add parsley; season with salt and pepper. Pass cheese separately. Serves 4 as a main dish.

#2: side dish
mediterranean quinoa salad

a chef crissy weeknight special

* 1.5 cups quinoa, rinsed thoroughly in cold water
* 3 cups salted water
* 1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved
* 4 oz of feta cheese, crumbled or cut into tiny cubes
* handful of kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
* handful of fresh mint, torn
* handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped

* juice of 1-2 meyer lemons (taste as you go)
* 2 tablespoons olive oil (approximate, taste as you go)

Bring 2 cups of salted water to boil in medium saucepan. Add quinoa, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender and water is absorbed, about 13 minutes. If there is left over water, drain it off. Cook quinoa in a medium mixing bowl.

Once quinoa has cooled to room temperature, add the rest of the ingredients. Toss with the  dressing — no need to mix the oil and lemon juice together first. Taste and add more oil and lemon juice accordingly. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or chill for a few hours to let the flavors develop. Serves 6 as a side dish.

old school chi-neez

8 Dec

When I was a kid, my Chinese grandpa would feed me dried scallops as an afternoon snack. He insisted these stinky salty golden disks that peeled apart like string cheese were actually sections of dried rattlesnake. I went around telling friends at school that I ate rattlesnake, which naturally made me super cool and popular.

In my Thanksgiving post, I mentioned my friend N made a delicious savory Chinese sticky rice flavored with an abundance of dried scallops. Recently, I decided to try my hand at making this Chinese specialty, just to see how tough it would be.

Surprisingly, once ingredients were gathered, it was just a matter of 3 hours of soaking time, plus 1 hour of mostly non-supervised cook time. Okay, so it’s 20 times longer to make than a stir-fry, but that’s what makes it old school Chinese!

chinese sticky rice with dried scallops, sausage and mushrooms
a fancy rice to fancy

* 3 cups short-grain “sweet” rice
* 1/4 cup dried scallops
* 1 cup Chinese dried black mushrooms or dried shiitake mushrooms
* 5 Chinese sausages, sliced 1/4″ thin on the diagonal
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1/3 cup medium-dry cooking sherry
* 4 tablespoons soy sauce
* 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
* 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
* 2 cups reserved scallop and mushroom liquid or reduced-sodium chicken broth
* Thinly sliced green onions for garnish

Rinse and soak rice in cold water at least 3 hours. Drain and let dry thoroughly.

Soak scallops and mushrooms in separate bowls of warm water for 30 minutes. Drain mushrooms and scallops reserving liquid for later. Rinse mushrooms to remove any grit, then discard stems and coarsely chop caps. Shred scallops.

Heat a saute pan over high heat. Add sausage and stir-fry 1 minute, then add vegetable oil to coat the pan. Add mushrooms and scallops and stir-fry 1 minute. Add drained rice and stir to coat (rice should look shiny with oil). Stir in sherry, soy sauce, sesame oil, and white pepper and stir-fry for a couple more minutes on medium head, adding a little of the reserved scallop liquid if rice begins to stick to pan.

Transfer mixture to rice cooker and add the remaining 2 cups of reserved scallop and mushroom liquid (or chicken broth). Cook on normal rice setting. If using a pot, bring rice to a simmer, stir once, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook 25 minutes more, then remove from heat.

Once rice cooker finishes cooking cycle, stir rice from bottom to redistribute ingredients and let stand, covered, 10 minutes before serving with green onion garnish.

Serves 8.