Back in the nineties chefs all over from Jacque Pepin to the Too Hot Tamales were singing the praises of Quinoa as the “Super Grain of the Future". Unfortunately it has become the super grain of the recent past. Quinoa is a grain imported from Bolivia with an interesting appearance and a pleasant nutty flavor. The National Academy of Sciences has described it as one of the best sources of protein in the vegetable kingdom. I use red, mostly for its color in presentation, but flavor difference is slight.
If you have truculent vegan offspring this is safe to serve them so that they don’t start chewing on a Zappos box.
Why did it drop off restaurant menus? Possibly because customers were never sold on it. But I’ve been selling it to my own friends with success---one of whom makes long wilderness hikes and needs to pack light (quinoa, bouillon cubes).
So put on your Evo Morales inauguration “freedom” cardigan sweater and prepare this as an easy side dish. It cooks up quickly in the same proportions as you would use for cooking white rice; 2 parts water to one part quinoa, but it cooks faster than rice.
Bolivian spring water (or from your tap)
red quinoa (or white depending on your political spectrum)
green onion or ramp, thinly sliced
fresh corn shaved off of the cob
very thinly sliced radish (ideally a French breakfast type radish)
Bring the water to a boil with 1 teaspoon salt. Slowly pour in the quinoa and reduce heat to a simmer. Stir and cover the pan.
Step 1 will only take about fifteen minutes. When the quinoa is about five minutes from finish lift the lid and stir in green onion, corn and nappa cabbage, then quickly replace the lid.
After fifteen minutes total cooking, taste for doneness and salt. Remove from heat and stir in the lime zest and drizzle with lime oil. Top with the sliced radish and ground pepper. Serve warm
Notes to cook: I have found breakfast radishes at Whole Foods and better farmers markets. But you can also easily grow your own from seed. And if you do follow that instruction, you can find uses for the top greens as well.
A lemon infused oil maybe easier to find than lime. In which case substitute lemon zest especially if Meyer lemons are available.
Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.