There is something I have been longing to try for a while now…quinoa. Nowadays, it seems all the rage for health-conscious people to buy and eat this in bulk because it is rich in proteins and amino acids. More importantly (for my family anyway), it is gluten-free. It displays itself as a type of grain – but really, it is a crop of seeds. Surprisingly enough, their relatives are vegetables like spinach, beets, and tumbleweeds.
It is originally from South America – more specifically, the Andes region (includes Bolivia, Chile, and Peru). The Incas once glorified this “grain” – claiming this as the “mother grain”. It was a staple crop among them and remains to be a staple crop to the descendants.
Quinoa is one of those exports that are limited. As a result, the cost is pretty high – one of the biggest reasons preventing me from buying this. At my nearby A&P, organic quinoa is $10.99! I’m sorry but that is just too much for me. Sadly enough, because the demand for this crop is at an all-time high, the cost of this product has also risen in South America, making it impossible for the long-time consumers of quinoa to look away from it rather than buying it. If you are interested in this piece of news: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/20/world/americas/20bolivia.html?_r=1&ref=health
When I look at it though, it looks almost like uncooked couscous to me. Naturally, I imagine the taste of quinoa to be similar to it. According to descriptions online though, reviewers say that it tastes slightly nutty and rice-like. It depends on the types of quinoa. Red quinoa is said to taste nuttier, crunchier, and tastier. Yellow quinoa is more mellow (which makes sense).
When researching about this little bowl of mystery that I badly want to try, I start to imagine it cooked and cooled into a salad of some sorts. After I boil it in salt, I would want to add pieces of grilled, cut up asparagus, fresh cherry tomatoes, minced garlic, chopped red onions, tarragon, mushrooms (cooked for people who do not enjoy it raw), chives, chickpeas, pine nuts, cooked spinach – all mixed up in a little dressing of freshly squeezed lemon juice, a little extra virgin olive oil, some of the garlic juices (sounds odd but I think it would be delicious), mustard, and of course, salt and pepper.
To me, it sounds fresh, healthy, and drool-worthy. If I ever get a bonus or somehow come upon some extra cash (wishing, praying, hoping!), I would love to try out this recipe in my head.
For now, I will just dream and salivate.