Read The Laughing Chef's bio and previous columns


May 6, 2009

Quinoa and the Pursuit of Kitchen Peace


Although the appearance of quinoa is that of a grain, being all small and pearl-like, this is a case where judging by appearances exposes your own prejudices. Instead, it is technically a seed.


The method by which you cook it is simple enough. Boil twice as much water or stock as grain, add grain and simmer until the water is all absorbed (15 minutes). It is a recipe so simple that if you need to read an entire cooking column to figure it out, you may consider doing the rest of us a favor and avoid the kitchen all together.


As a standalone food, it has a more naturally nutty flavor to it than that of traditional grains like rice. You may eat it like this, and its fibrous content will leave you feeling full for days on end. However, eating grain with no accompaniment is no way to live.


On the other hand, quinoa’s highly healthy nature is one that encourages you to eat it with other healthy foods. Browning a pound of greasy hamburger, mixing that in with cooked quinoa and topping with cheddar cheese, mayonnaise and chocolate sauce, for instance, is not something you will feel inclined to do.


What you might be apt to lean toward is mixing quinoa with vegetables sautéed in olive oil. Which ones? Well, if you’re talking about sautéing vegetables, the mushroom jumps clearly to mind, as does some form of onion. In this case, lean toward our friend the leek, which has a sweeter flavor than does a traditional onion. The blend is sweet and nutty, which is something that daytime television has clearly established are desirable traits in a mate.


Sauté mushrooms and sliced leeks in olive oil with garlic. Add to those asparagus tips and also zucchini slices. Cook these until the mushrooms are golden brown and the asparagus is softened to the point where any additional heat would threaten to turn it into mush.


Once these are complete, they do not at all look complementary. In fact, for reasons that are never made clear, they appear to be two things completely at odds with one another. Leave them alone in the kitchen, in fact, and you risk the very real possibility that violence will break out.


The reason for this is that quinoa is prone to taking offense to the general haughty disposition of that combination of sautéed vegetables. They do not take kindly to those they see as beneath their station and will render insult at the slightest provocation.


An obvious peace broker here is tomato paste. Add that to the quinoa and mix it in. Because we are dealing with a paste here, you will want something wet. Add some freshly squeezed lemon juice. Once these have been blended and the tomato and lemon juice formed something akin to a sauce, add the sautéed vegetables. The vegetables and quinoa will set aside their differences, and peace will reign in the land as you sit down to lunch.


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


Click here to talk to our writers and editors about this column and others in our discussion forum.


To e-mail feedback about this column, click here. If you enjoy this writer's work, please contact your local newspapers editors and ask them to carry it.

This is Column #TLC134. Request permission to publish here.

Op-Ed Writers
Eric Baerren
Lucia de Vernai
Herman Cain
Dan Calabrese
Bob Franken
Lawrence J. Haas
Paul Ibrahim
David Karki
Llewellyn King
Gregory D. Lee
David B. Livingstone
Bob Maistros
Rachel Marsden
Nathaniel Shockey
Stephen Silver
Candace Talmadge
Jessica Vozel
Jamie Weinstein
Brett Noel
Feature Writers
Mike Ball
Bob Batz
Cindy Droog
The Laughing Chef
David J. Pollay
Business Writers
D.F. Krause