Mountain Chef: Cooking with versatile quinoa |

Mountain Chef: Cooking with versatile quinoa

Ian T. Buchananspecial to the daily


I had a friend ask me the other day, “What is quinoa?” I have cooked it many times and knew it was a very healthy grain, but I was stumped. So here we are today with our topic. And the more I researched, the more amazed I was with this little grain. To begin, it is not even a grain at all, it is more closely related to beets, spinach and tumbleweeds! It was domesticated roughly 3,000-4,000 years ago in Peru but dates back to almost 7,000 years ago. The mother of all grains – as it was known to the Incas – was one of the three staple foods, including corn and potatoes, consumed by this ancient civilization. Quinoa is a wonderful source of complete proteins. It has an extremely high protein content and very well- balanced amino acids. Which is not a regular characteristic for plants. While also providing starch, sugars, oil (high in essential linoleic acid), minerals and vitamins. It is a great food that is gluten free, high in dietary fiber and easy to digest. Did I mention it is really, really tasty? The flavor and texture is very different from that of rice. Fluffy little cooked grains with a great nutty flavor which are very versatile. You can soak them in cool water for two to three hours and sprout them supercharging their nutritional content while softening them for salads. You can cook and use them similarly to rice and make delicious pilaf-style side dishes. You can use it in place of almost any grain in any recipe. It a fantastic alternative to oatmeal for breakfast adding toppings like almonds, brown sugar and dried fruit. They even grind it down into a flour to add to traditional and gluten-free baking. Grab a bag and try some instead of rice or potatoes…or even corn for that matter, and enjoy exploring new healthy, delicious foods. Buen Provecho!ian t. buchanan is the chef/owner of Open To The World Private Chef Services and lead instructor at CMC Breckenridge’s Center For Lifelong Learning Culinary Program. View Ian’s website at, contact him at (440) 376-0096 or swing by and sign up for a culinary class at CMC Breckenridge.

2 cups quinoa4 cups very hot water1 cucumber, chopped2 small tomatoes, chopped1 bunch green onions, (8) sliced1/2 cup fresh chopped mint 2 cups fresh chopped parsley1 clove garlic, minced (optional)Dressing:1/2 cup fresh lemon juice3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil4 ounces crumbled feta1 tablespoon pepper2 teaspoons salt, or to taste—————————————Soak the quinoa in the hot water until the water is absorbed, roughly 30 minutes. When it’s ready, drain any excess water, if necessary, and squeeze dry. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables for the salad and mix the dressing ingredients together. Set aside. Stir the prepared quinoa, other salad ingredients & dressing together in a medium bowl. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Better when marinated for a few hours or overnight.

2 tablespoons oil1/2 onion, chopped1 cup quinoa2 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth1 teaspoon salt1/4 teaspoon pepperdash cumindash cinnamon—————————————Place oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saut onion in oil until tender and it begins to turn golden in color. Add quinoa and then the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir in salt, pepper, cumin and cinnamon. Transfer to a covered baking dish or leave in the skillet if it is ovenproof. Cover and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until quinoa is tender.

1 pound chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat1 tablespoon ground coriander1 tablespoon paprika1 shallot, chopped2 garlic cloves chopped1/4 cup fresh herbs such as parsley, basil or cilantro2 teaspoons rice vinegarolive oilsalt and pepper to taste—————————————Preheat oven to 400 F. Place all the items in a blender except the chicken and blend to a smooth paste. Toss the chicken with the wet rub in a bowl to coat. Let set at least 15 minutes or up to overnight. Place chicken in a oven-proof baking dish and roast until internal temperature reaches 165 F or the juices run clear. Add a small amount of water to the pan and drizzle drippings over the top of the chicken when serving.