Have you heard of or tried quinoa? I’ve seen a few recipes floating around but never thought to try it. When the nice people at Carapelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil sent me a recipe for quinoa pilaf and some of their wonderful extra virgin olive oil, I whipped up a batch.
Here’s what quinoa looks like uncooked. I know… sort of like birdseed. The reason is that quinoa is actually a seed. Here’s what I found out about quinoa.
Over 5,000 years ago, high in the Andes mountains, the Incas began to cultivate quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) as one of their staple crops, believing that it gave power and stamina to their warriors. In the 1980s, two North Americans stumbled upon this ancient, super-nutritious food and began cultivating it near Boulder, Colorado. Since then, quinoa's popularity has exploded worldwide.
Although it is cooked and eaten like a grain, quinoa is technically a seed, and is related to spinach, chard and beets. The seeds are round, about the same size of millet or sesame seeds, and come in a rainbow of colors, from red to purple to green to yellow, but the quinoa that is most commonly found in stores is an off-white color.
To make this quinoa pilaf, you start by washing the quinoa. You need to use a really fine strainer because those seeds are really little.
I made a printable recipe card with the recipe that Carapelli Olive Oil sent me in case you want to try making this dish. The recipe calls for leeks, sugar snap peas or shelled fresh peas, artichoke hearts and pine nuts. All of which I forgot to get at the grocery store.
I improvised and used frozen peas, brown onions and toasted almonds and the results were wonderful. I wasn’t sure if I’d like quinoa but it was really good.
Here’s more information about quinoa:
Quinoa is a complete protein, which means that it contains all the amino acids necessary for our nutritional needs. Complete proteins are rare in the plant world, making quinoa an excellent food for vegetarians and vegans, or for anyone looking for healthy protein source. It's also high in iron and calcium, and is a good source of manganese, magnesium and copper, as well as fiber. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free, making it an excellent food for celiac patients or other people following a gluten-free diet. Quinoa flour is great for baking cookies, breads and muffins, and quinoa flakes are a perfect substitute for oatmeal.
Thank you so much Carapelli Olive Oil for challenging me to make and try something new.
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I received samples in order to create this project but no monetary compensation. All opinions are 100% mine.