Pronounced ‘keen-wah’, quinoa is a frequently overlooked and relatively unknown superfood, containing a perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids. It is gluten-free and a great source of protein.
Derived from the Spanish spelling of the Quechua name ‘kinwa’, this ancient grain originated in the Andes. It was successfully cultivated for human consumption 3000 years ago. The Incas called the crop ‘chisaya mama’ or mother of all grains. It’s said that the emperor would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season using golden tools. After the conquest of South America the Spanish conquistadors forbade quinoa cultivation because of its religious and cultural significance.
The grain has enjoyed a revival in Peru over the past decades and is now finding a new and appreciative audience worldwide. Its healthful qualities are prized but quinoa isn’t a medicine. Consider it as a delicious addition to your larder or take advantage of its lack of gluten if you are intolerant. It’s versatile and can be used as flour in baking or presented as a grain, whole or sprouted, in cooked dishes and salads.
Red quinoa is showcased in the recipe for Salmon and Red Quinoa on Asparagus with Lime Cilantro (coriander) Sauce. The delicate pink of the fish is framed by the earth-red of the grain. A visually appealing dish and a stylish introduction to what, for many, is a new foodstuff. Yes, it looks good but it’s the taste and texture that will encourage you to make this often.
It’s easy to sprout quinoa, and kids will love to take part in the process. They will be sure to eat salads garnished with their handiwork as long as you don’t tell them it’s doing them good. There are some tempting and fresh ideas for light salads, as well as others with robust flavour from chilli. This is not the beige and bland health food fare we endured in the 80s.
Quinoa isn’t only used for savoury recipes – quinoa flour is used here in several sweet treats. Raspberry Coconut Bars are simple to make and will be appreciated by those who have to avoid regular white flour. It’s Peanut Butter Cookies, though, that have my vote for the sweet chapter.
Authors Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming have penned a manual of more than 170 recipes for this still unfamiliar grain. We are more conscious than ever before of the need to eat well, and this is a book for those with specific dietary issues, as well as those who just enjoy good food. A unique volume.
Cookbook review: Quinoa – The everyday superfood
Authors: Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming
Published by: Apple Press
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018