Vail’s Simply Seasonal column: Quinoa known as mother seed
Cultivated for thousands of years in the Andes of South America, quinoa (pronounced Keen -wah) was known as the ‘mother seed’. Though it resembles a grain and is typically cooked and eaten like rice or couscous, quinoa is the seed of the Goosefoot (Chenopodium) plant and therefore a relative of beets, swiss chard and spinach.The ancient Inca warriors subsisted on quinoa; its protein provided stamina and kept them strong and healthy. One of the few foods considered a “complete protein,” it contains all nine of the essential amino acids, making quinoa a true superfood. It is a great choice for vegetarians, dieters, or anyone looking to improve their nutrient intake. Quinoa is a relatively new food choice in the U.S. – not until the 1980s did two Coloradans discover this concentrated protein source in Bolivia. They brought the seeds back to the similar climate of the Rocky Mountains and now quinoa is readily available in grocery and health-food stores. You can prepare quinoa like you would rice – simply boil in water till fully absorbed. However, Restaurant Avondale’s executive chef, Jeremy Kittelson, shared a much more flavorful technique: “I like to prepare quinoa like a risotto. Toast the grains in a pot until the color starts to turn golden. Then add a ladle of hot stock and stir over medium heat until absorbed. Continue adding stock and stirring until the germ ‘pops’ and you can see the white spiral in each kernel. By cooking this way, the quinoa grains remain separated and have a rich, nutty flavor.”Once your quinoa is cooked, it can be used in a variety of ways. Make a main dish salad, adding anything you have on hand. Add it to soup, as it will complement all other veggies and legumes. Add parmesan and serve as a side dish. The choices are endless.Quinoa is a rich source of manganese, iron, magnesium, copper and dietary fiber. Its antioxidant properties aid the cardiovascular system, and ease diabetes, asthma, migraines and many other ailments. With all of these protective, healing and nurturing traits, revere the mother seed with a place in your diet.
1 tablespoon oil1/2 cup onion, chopped1/2 cup carrot, chopped1/2 cup celery, chopped1 tablespoon garlic, chopped1 tablespoon ginger, chopped1 tablespoon curry powder1/2 cup red lentils3 cups chicken or vegetable broth1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes1 tablespoon chili sauce 1/2 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained1 cup quinoa, cookedsalt and pepper to tasteGarnish:Cilantro, choppedGreek style yogurtHeat the oil in a stockpot. Add the onions, carrots and celery and saut until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and curry powder and saut until fragrant, about a minute. Add the lentils, stock, tomatoes and chili sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Add the chickpeas and quinoa and heat through. Season with salt and pepper and serve with a garnish of cilantro and a dollop of yogurt. Serves 4-6.
1 1/2 cups water1 cup uncooked quinoa4 tablespoons olive oil, divided1 red onion, chopped1/2 red bell pepper, chopped1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms6 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces1/4 cup golden raisins1 tablespoon minced fresh gingersalt and pepper to taste1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined1 lime, juiced1/2 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsleyIn a sauce pot, bring water to a boil, and stir in the quinoa. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat, set aside for about 10 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saut onion and red pepper until tender. Mix in mushrooms, asparagus, raisins and ginger. Saut until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in shrimp and cook about 5 minutes till pink and opaque. Place quinoa in a large bowl and mix with lime juice and remaining olive oil. Toss in skillet mixture and parsley and serve. Serves 3-4.Sue Barham is the marketing director for Larkspur Restaurant and Restaurant Avondale. Larkspur (www.larkspurvail.com), at the base of Vail Mountain, has been serving American classics with a fresh interpretation since 1999. Avondale (www.avondalerestaurant.com) opened in September 2008 in the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa and features a West Coast-inspired, market-driven menu. Email comments to email@example.com.