Saturday, May 30, 2009

Quinoa with Carrots and Chives


Quinoa (keen-wah)...what?
I stumbled across quinoa about a year into my kitchen journey when I was tired of pasta and rice.

In fact, I strictly believe weight correlates with consomption of pasta, rice, sugars and processed foods.

So, I was browsing through the barrels at my local health foods store, passing by the varieties of rice, the pastas, lentils and beans when I saw an interesting looking rice like product. They were tiny, with a nutty color and the price was right so I thought I would try it. Besides with a name like quinoa (keen-wah) how could I pass this up? I went home with my little scoop of quinoa excited for adventure and went to the internet for some advice in cooking these strange little south African morsels; I had a difficult time finding practical recipes.

I discovered that quinoa is low in gluten, one of the few foods that comes complete with all the essential amino acids for human needs, and is easily digestible.

I was stumped on what to cook it with. So, I went to my kitchen and decided to chop up carrots and green onions and boil it all together.

I used carrots for their sweetness, and green onions always add great flavor, as well as pairing well with the carrots. I knew at least the flavor would be great, even if the quinoa wasn’t.
Well, viola, it was fantastic, and my new household staple.
The great news is that since my quinoa journey, many new recipes have emerged on the web and quinoa seems to have become a more noted food source:

Stove top Preparation:
1/2 cup Quinoa
3 Bias cut green onions or chives
2 Diced carrots
1 1/2 cups chicken stock

(see homemade version in previous blog) or use vegetable stock for a vegetarian option

Bring chicken stock to a boil. Add quinoa and carrots and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the chives or green onion and continue simmering for 5 minutes. Turn off heat, and fluff grains with a fork before serving

**Kitchen Tip; Rinse the grains first: Some say the the seeds should be rinsed to remove the bitter resin-like coating, called saponin. Quinoa is rinsed before it is packaged and sold, and I have never experienced this bitter taste.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cinco de Mayo: Baja Pinwheels

My own variation on "Mexican Pinwheels"
You might find these in Baja Mexico

Sauce:

1 bar low fat cream cheese
1 cup salsa
...use your favorite brand
1/2 cup guacamole (I used Fresh and Easy brand pre-made guacamole for this recipe
Juice from 4 key limes

Warm the cream cheese in the microwave for about 30 seconds
Mix the 4 ingredients together and set aside.


Filling:

2 red bell peppers, roasted and skins removed, then loosely chopped
1 ripe mango, shaved this sliced
4 green onions, chopped
3 cups fresh rinsed spinach, chiffonade
lime juice from 2 key limes

Toss the chopped roasted peppers, chopped sliced mango, chopped green onions, chiffonade spinach, and lime juice.

Assembly:

1 package of wheat tortillas
Spread
Filling


Spread the cream cheese sauce on a wheat tortilla liberally.


Sprinkle about half a cup to 2/3 cup of the filling mixture evenly over the tortilla.

Roll the wheat tortilla "jelly roll" style and place rolled tortilla in jelly roll dish or similiar size baking dish. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Place rolls in the freezer for about 30 minutes to firm them up a bit for slicing.

To slice, I use my sharp chef's knife and it works brilliantly, but reagardless of the knife, be sure it is SHARP for ease and less mess.

Slice the ends off of the rolled tortilla and discard.


Slice the roll in half inch increments and lay on sides for the "pinwheel" effect.