Quinoa, a grain from that land - Black quinoa salad

Yaoyos
Peru is the hub of a dynamic gastronomy; food to feast the eye and titillate the palate. Wether in Lima, Arequipa and St Vincente de Canete I watched and learned from the many wonderful people who  invited me to their kitchens.

Like potatoes of which they have over 3000 varieties, quinoa is staple.  In the Andes where it thrives in high altitude, ‘kinua’ which means ‘grain from this land’ in Quechua, is believed to be over 5800 years old. It appears that the Incas thrived and sustained their empire though its successful cultivation, storage and distribution of this tiny grain.  Historians believe that they performed ceremonial rituals when sowing, to implore the gods's protection and made offerings of seeds in fountains of gold.


With this colourful historical baggage, bags of quinoa stack supermarket shelves alongside other grains.    It is the preferred super-food of people on gluten free diets. Recipes abound and restaurateurs include it in their menus.  In one traditional Andean recipe the grains are cooked with milk, white cheese and choclo (white corn). In the modern kitchen quinoa,  adds crunch to bread sticks , it is also popped and serves as a breakfast cereal or cooked like risotto- ‘quinotto’. 

With ‘vegetarian week’ in mind, I cooked black quinoa. Black quinoa is not really black; it is mixture of black, brown, soft grey and tan. It requires the same cooking time as white quinoa but has a stronger and nuttier flavour. When cooked, the outer band falls from the seed and remains crunchy while the inner grain, a translucent white colour, melts in your mouth.




The following quinoa recipe can simply be served as a side dish but can also be the base for many salad combinations.

Black Quinoa

250 g black quinoa, rinsed
1 shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
500 ml vegetable stock

serves 4
preparation time: 10 minutes
cooking time: 35 minutes

  1. Heat oil in a deep pan and cook the shallot on low heat until soft. 
  2. Add garlic and cook for another minute.  
  3. Toss quinoa in the mixture for about ½ minute before adding stock. Add salt to taste.
  4. Bring the stock to a boil; reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. The grains should look like they have popped with white bits showing.
  5. Remove from the heat, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with chopped chives and serve as a side dish.




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