I’d always wanted to try a recipe using Quinoa, but wasn’t quite sure where to begin. Honestly, it took me a while to even get the pronunciation right. I never tasted or used Quinoa previously but had always read so much about how quick and easy it is to cook. I knew I wanted to start somewhere and decided to experiment cooking to taste it just itself and see if this was something I and my family would enjoy.
My journey to cook Quinoa started out at a local store that carries organic products and produce from the farmers market. The reason I chose this store in specific is because they have individual bins for nuts, dried fruits, millets, grains and different kinds of flours giving me the flexibility to buy just the quantity I needed. My thoughts at the time - “What if I hate the taste or even the sight of the cooked stuff?”
Once home, I looked up methods to cook quinoa and meticulously followed every word of anything that read “the best way to cook quinoa”. What I found is that most recipes that use this ingredient more or less call for the same method – “Bring the water to a boil and stir in the quinoa. Cover and reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.”
I didn’t have to do anything much different. I was thrilled!
With the cooking process completed, the real test was that of the taste. Both the texture and flavor was nuttier than I expected it to be. It was difficult to eat without any salt, though. So, I added a teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice and a dash of salt. Now, that tasted a lot better and it was surely a lot more appetizing.
So, my first experiment with quinoa was much less disastrous than I expected it to be. In fact, it motivated me to try out different recipes using it as a key ingredient.
I am big fan of bulgur and love all the Greek and Indian recipes that use bulgur. I was keen to see how a recipe that calls for bulgur would turn out with quinoa instead, so tried a few – loved some and completely detested the others. Some recipes test better with bulgur and I have learnt to keep it that ways. That said, of the list of things I‘ve experimented with thus far there’s certainly one that stands out for me. Quinoa blends in so well with the other ingredients that I have begun to completely replace bulgur with quinoa in the recipe, more often now.
Quinoa and Chick Pea Pilaf
¼ cup quinoa seeds
1 cup water for cooking quinoa
½ cup cooked chick peas or ½ cup canned chick peas, rinsed and drained
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
Salt to taste
Strained juice of half a lemon
Soak quinoa in cold water for 5-7 minutes. Stir using hand and drain off water using a strainer.
Place quinoa and bay leaf in a pot, add 1 cup of water and bring to boil. Make sure the pot has a tight fitting lid. Turn the heat down to simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes with the lid on. Fluff gently with a fork and set aside. **
In a bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, chick-peas, garlic, red pepper flakes and parsley. Add the olive oil. Season to taste using salt and lemon juice.
Serve either warm or at room temperature.
Serves : 3
(This recipe is an adaptation of 'Pligouropilafo me Revithia' from The Greek Vegetarian by Diane Kochilas )
** You can also cook quinoa according to directions on the package.