I've become fascinated (or obsessed
) with quinoa (pronounced keen-wah
), that looks a little like couscous, although a bit smaller -- like millet.
It's neither a pasta nor a grain, but actually a seed grown on a plant
that looks like spinach-on-steroids
(some quinoa plants can grow 6 feet tall.) It's been cultivated
(originally by the Incans) in the Andes
for 5,000 years. (BTW, most quinoa sold here comes from Peru and Bolivia, although they're growing it now at 7K feet on the slopes of the San Juans in Colorado.)
about quinoa is that it has the highest protein of any grain, and contains the amino acids lysine, making it a complete "supergrain" (although it's a seed.) It's also a great source of minerals and vitamins, such as potassium, riboflavin, magnesium and B6.
My wife got me into this, serving it last year and asking me what I thought I was eating. I incorrectly thought
it was couscous. Since then we've had it several ways, with corn and black beans in a southwestern style, or with feta and spinach or arugala in a Med-style dish.Which gets me to quamping & quinoa & some questions:
It seems like this would be a great item to take on bp trips. This tiny seed when cooked increases to 3 to 4 times its volume -- and that fits well into a UL pack.
First, though, is the question of its bitter protective coating, called saponin
, that the plant developed to protect it from consumption by birds & from high-altitude sunlight. This needs to be thoroughly rinsed off the seeds before cooking/consumption. Yet I've read that most (all?) quinoa sold in the US already has this task done before packaging. Is this true (Sarbar)? Is there anyway to know if this has been done? I see nothing on the labels of pre-boxed quinoa that gives this info. (BTW all
quinoa, being the seed of this South American plant, is gluten-free
-- which is proclaimed in bold letters on some
brand-name boxes as a nifty marketing tool.)
Second question is cooktime. It's certainly not as quick and easy as couscous, but several sources say it's still faster than rice. I notice on Sarbar's trailcooking blog
that she recommends cooking & dehydrating quinoa prior to hitting the trail. But is it possible to take the raw, uncooked grain and cook it on the trail freezer-bag style? I've got a week-long bp planned in September and want to take some (alot) along and want to experiment with a few recipes before the outing. Any suggestions/recipes?