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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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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