Thursday, April 14, 2011

Recipe: Coconutty Quinoa with Pistachios and Mangoes

A healthy, albeit difficult to work with, alternative to rice, this quinoa recipe is a sweet side dish offering for Indian meals.

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa (like Trader Joe's Organic Quinoa)
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup dried mango (like Trader Joe's Dried Fruit: Soft & Juicy Mango)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (like Bob's Red Mill Shredded Coconut)
1/2 cup dry roasted, unsalted pistachio pieces, plus more for garnish
pinch of salt

You'll Also Need:
a colander, cheesecloth

1. Place a piece of cheesecloth in the bottom of a colander. Pour in the cup of quinoa. Rinse the quinoa under cold running water.
2. While that's rinsing, chop the dried mango into bite-size pieces.
3. Add the broth and the coconut milk to a pot and bring to a boil.
4. Add the salt and the quinoa. Lower to a simmer. Cover. You're going to cook for about 10 minutes altogether.
5. After the first five minutes of cooktime, add the mango pieces and the shredded coconut to the pot. Stir.
6. Continue cooking until all the water is absorbed. Quinoa is done when it's translucent and the germ ring is visible along the outside.
7. Stir in a 1/2 cup of pistachio pieces.
8. Add more pistachio pieces on top for garnish.

Serves 4.

The AHH Factor: This was my first time cooking quinoa. Well, make that second time. The first time was the night before and that was a total fail. I didn't realize how minuscule these seeds are and so didn't bother with lining my colander with cheesecloth. Yeahh...I'm sure you can imagine how that went. I lost about a quarter of the quinoa out the bottom of the colander.

Even with the cheesecloth technique, I still lost some of the quinoa -- this time due to it getting stuck on the disintegrating cheesecloth. Overall, I found quinoa to be surprisingly hard to work with. It kept sticking to my fingers and/or spilling all over the floor. I may simply be too clumsy to work with it, but quinoa has such potential for healthy eating that I really want to make it work. I have a great vision in which I replace quinoa for white rice in Indian dishes.

Many people, including whoever wrote the text on the packaging of the Trader Joe's box, think quinoa is a grain, but it's techinically a chenopod and not a grass. What that means is it has way better nutritional value than white rice, or even brown rice, which is why I want to cook with it more. One serving (1/4 cup) of the Trader Joe's kind has 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. It also contains a balanced set of essential amino acids. It's also gluten-free. I'm not on a gluten-free diet, but it seems that more and more people are, and this entire recipe can be gluten-free as long as you buy all of the ingredients carefully. (For instance, certain brands of chicken broth contain gluten, while others are gluten-free.) It also cooks up more quickly than rice, and taste-wise I enjoy the taste slightly more than I enjoy the taste of rice.

Other than the quinoa and maybe the chicken/veggie broth (I'll have to ask my mom about that ingredient), the other ingredients are pretty typical in Indian cuisine. The quinoa really absorbs the flavors of the broth and coconut milk. In the FAIL version, I actually had less chicken broth and more coconut milk, but that made this dish way too sweet.

Anyone have any tips or tricks for how to cook with quinoa successfully?

5 comments:

  1. Love it

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  2. You can start by making your recipes with 1/2 rice & 1/2 quinoa. Use a strainer to rinse it instead of a colander :)

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