Sunday, July 8, 2007
Keen on Quinoa
The dust has cleared from the preparations, hosting and cleanup of our annual Fourth of July party. Having two cats and an extremely fuzzy dog requires intensive defurring of all surfaces of the house before company comes, and then there's the cooking, yard work and shopping factors. But it is always a great time and despite intermittent rain that prevented much pool time, I think all my buddies and their kids had a nice time. Dan's firing of his potato cannon is a big hit every year, with lots of outfielders vying to catch the far-flung bits of potato.
Because of the rain everyone was inside most of the day and our seemingly vast quantities of mostly gluten-free party foods were ravaged. I very nearly committed the venal sin of running out of edibles, but our circle of friends was so cool to bring all kinds of great salads and desserts that everyone could chow down. It was so sweet: so many thoughtful friends brought great dishes, including almond meal cookies, bean salads, vegetable delights of many varieties, dips, etc. That was a great feeling to know so many of our wonderful buddies took the time to research and prepare gluten-free eats for our family.
The radish dip recipe I've previously posted was a big hit (filed under Appetizers), as was our friend Leo's Spicy Black Beans (I'm bugging him for the recipe and will post it here), as well as several types of quinoa salads. Quinoa, pronounced keen-wah, is a new cooking ingredient for me, but a lot of our friends were already hip to this ancient South American grain which has a lot of protein and other nutrients. I have not been able to find in my local supermarkets, but our nearby health food store stocks it in 3 cup baggies, so I've done a little experimentation. You basically cook it up like rice: 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water, with a little salt. You bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. You must rinse the quinoa first to remove the naturally-occurring bitter seed coating. I love the taste of the quinoa grains and the texture is nice and crunchy, weirdly reminding me of firm caviar.
I prepared a Spinach Quinoa salad (cooked quinoa, crumbled feta cheese, cooked chopped spinach, dill and a little lemon juice) and other friends brought quinoa salad with black-eyed peas, chopped green and red peppers and vinaigrette dressing. Another buddy brought a quinoa salad mixed with chopped tomatoes, corn and peppers. If you haven't checked it out, try some quinoa for healthy and delicious gluten-free feasting.