Quinoa has been widely embraced in foodie communities over recent years, and we can definitely see why. This grain, pronounced ‘keen-wah’, is packed with nutrition and regarded as a superfood. First cultivated over 5 000 years ago, quinoa hails from South America and has the capability to thrive in many different climates.
This ancient grain is rich in antioxidants and the United Nations even named 2013 ‘International Quinoa Year’, due its high nutritional value. You’ll also find calcium, magnesium, folate, phospohorous, copper, iron, zinc and manganese in quinoa, and it’s an excellent source of fibre, along with vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and E. It’s one of the rare plants that can act as a complete protein, making it a fantastic ingredient choice for vegetarians and vegans.
Botanically, quinoa is actually not a grain, but a seed, and it’s also a pseudo-cereal. It contains similar nutritional value to cereals but is a non-grassy plant, and nutritionally it’s classified as a whole grain. However, this grain is also gluten-free and the least allergenic in the grain family.
How To Cook Quinoa
Wash the grains by rinsing them in water to remove the saponin. Saponin is quinoa’s natural coating, which can make it taste bitter or soapy.
- Boil water in a pot with a pinch of salt. You’ll need 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of quinoa. Once, the water boils, add the quinoa to the pot, give it a stir and reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Allow the quinoa to fully absorb the water; this should take 15–20 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat, and cover it for 5 minutes. This allows the steam to help the grains pop the ‘curlicues’ open. Use a fork to fluff up the quinoa before adding to your meal.
Like rice, quinoa becomes fluffy when cooked – it’s also creamy, with a slight crunch. It has a subtle nutty flavour, but won’t dominate a dish. Here are some recipes for you to try out with this month’s ingredient from our Future 50 Food list.
Fantastically fresh – with its intriguing textures, flavours and colours, this salad is great for a light lunch or for a side dish to go with chicken or seafood. The quinoa is cooked with a KNORR Vegetable Stock Pot, which adds a savoury note to cut through the sweetness of the veggies.
There’s nothing like a spicy vegetable and bean stew to lift the spirits. This easy, tasty stew is flavoured with KNORR Naturally Tasty Chilli Con Carne, and it’s delicious served with a hearty helping of quinoa. If you’re lucky, you might have some leftover for lunch the next day!
Spicy Butternut And Chickpea Tagine
A Moroccan-style pot of love made with butternut, mushrooms, peppers and Knorr’s Naturally Tasty Beef Tagine. While this is a vegetarian dish, you’ll be sure to get the proteins you need from the chickpeas and a generous serving of quinoa.
Very Mexi Quinoa Bowls
Enjoy a taste of popular Mexican flavours with this vibrant vegetarian combination. Think quinoa, sweetcorn, beans and tomatoes flavoured with a KNORR Vegetable Stock Pot, topped with avo, fresh coriander and toasted pumpkin seeds. Nutritious and tasty!
Quinoa Chicken Salad With Baby Marrows & Avo
This impressive salad is made with wild rice, but we also love it with the light, nutty flavour of quinoa. Top with fresh avos and toasted pumpkin seeds, and don’t forget the KNORR Balsamic & Pineapple Vinaigrette Salad Dressing for a final delicious finish.