Quinoa was revered by the Incas for centuries before the Spaniards invaded and forbade them from cultivating the plant they referred to (in their own language) as “the mother grain.”
I’d never done anything with quinoa until recently. I knew of its reputation as a highly nutritious quasi-grain, the only vegetarian source of complete protein (all 9 essential amino acids in one food, as opposed to combining grains and legumes [think rice and beans]). Recently, though, I’ve been cooking with it and I’m pleased to report that it is very tasty. Here is one great way to prepare it—enjoy!
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 carrot, cut to fine brunoise
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 12-18 leaves fresh mint
- cooking oil
- salt and pepper
Rinse quinoa in three or four changes of water to guarantee that all of the bitter seed covering has been washed away (most commercially available quinoas have been pre-rinsed, but it’s worth it to make certain that the entire coating is gone). Drain in a fine mesh sieve for 3-5 minutes before using.
Toast pine nuts in hot, dry skillet, tossing constantly to make certain that they do not burn. As nuts start to display a golden brown color and release a rich aroma, pour off to the side and reserve as a garnish.
Add thin layer of oil to bottom of pan and saute onion, garlic, and carrot with salt and pepper to taste. As vegetables soften and begin to display a hint of golden brown, add rinsed and drained quinoa to the pan along with golden raisins. Toast quinoa briefly, then add boiling stock and cinnamon stick. Cover, reduce heat, and let simmer 15 minutes
Roll mint leaves the long way and slice into thin ribbons (chiffonade). Stir mint and pine nuts into finished quinoa. Taste, adjust seasonings, and serve.