Thursday, December 13, 2012

Quinoa ("keen-wah")

Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa)  is an ancient seed originating from the Andes and the Inca people. It is closely related to species such as beets & spinach. Quinoa is a small seed which comes in White, Red or Black. It grows to 1-2 meters high with beautiful big flower heads that contain the seeds.

Quinoa's protein is of an unusually high quality. It is a complete protein, with an essential amino acid balance close to the ideal. Quinoa's protein is high in lysine, methionine and cystine. Quinoa is rich in manganese, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, copper, zinc, Vitamin E, B6, riboflavin, niacin and thiamine and has more calcium than cows milk, is an excellent anti-oxidant, rich in dietary fibre and has a very high iron content. It also has a low glycemic index level and is completely gluten free.

Quinoa has a light, fluffy texture when cooked, and has a mild, slightly nutty flavor.

Quinoa has a coating of bitter residue of saponins, a natural occurring plant-defense. The Saponin has a very bitter flavour so its best to rinse the Quinoa well under running water to remove as much as possible of the saponins. Wash and stir 3 or 4 times in water, or wash till water is clear. Never soak Quinoa before washing. The bitterness will be absorbed by the seed and you will never get the bitterness out. The first 2 washes are very important - the first wash will be dark and frothy; the second wash is not as dark as the first. The water will get clearer with every wash. 

I purchase Tasmanian Organically Grown Quinoa from Honest to Goodness

When my Quinoa arrives I place the bag in the Freezer for 3-5 days to kill any bugs that may be in there. After that you can safely store in the pantry. 

Quinoa Flour

I grind my own Quinoa Flour. That's one of the added benefits of being a Thermomix owner! It also saves a lot of money since it is one of the few Flours that I can use. 

First rinse Quinoa under cold running water until it runs clear. I do this by using a muslin cloth lined mesh strainer over a bucket in the sink. That way I can tip the water onto the pot plants so as not to waste any! As above it will take a few washes for the water to be clear.

Spread the rinsed Quinoa onto paraflexx lined Dehydrator trays. Dry the Quinoa using your dehydrators recommended settings. If you don't have a dehydrator you could do this in an oven on a very low temp.
I have a Excalibur Dehydrator from Excalibur Australia.

While the Quinoa is still warm add to Thermomix bowl to just below the highest blade.
Grind on Speed 10 for 3 minutes or until a nice fine flour. I allow a little cooling time between batches. Tip the Flour into a bowl and let cool before putting into a airtight container.

Quinoa Flour is best mixed with other flours or starches.

Cooking Quinoa

I use my Thermomix to cook Quinoa. First rinse well as detailed above.

Fill Thermomix Bowl to the 1 litre mark with Filtered Water.

Put the Quinoa in the Rice basket and then into the TM Bowl.

Cooking time depends on the amount of Quinoa.
Cook on Varoma 15 minutes Speed 4. Check the Quinoa and stir a little.

When the Quinoa is cooked it will have puffed up some and a tiny white spiral will appear encircling the grain. If its not yet done replace lid and cook on Varoma for a few more minutes or until it looks cooked. 

Leave sit in the Thermomix with lid on to keep warm till ready to serve or place into Thermoserver. Cooked Quinoa will keep in the fridge for several days.

Quinoa Information
Honest to Goodness - Australian Organic Quinoa product info
Kindred Organics - Quinoa
Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council - Quinoa
Quinoa Recipe Books by Rena Patten

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