Quiona in flower image + info via Wiki (the most reputable source for info, duh)
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium), is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a member of the grass family. As a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beets, spinach and tumbleweeds.
In contemporary times, this crop has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%-18%). Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), and like oats, quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source among plant foods. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA's Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration manned spaceflights.
Quinoa has a light, fluffy texture when cooked, and its mild, slightly nutty flavor makes it an alternative to white rice or couscous (which is good to know, because as it turns out, Darling hates couscous, which I'm still having trouble wrapping my mind around.)
Mediterranean Quinoa from Feeding the Whole Family
(Serves 4, and makes for an excellent next-day lunch)
1 cup quinoa
1 3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (I used 1 Tbsp dried)
1/3 cup crumbled feta.
1/4 cup currants
(okay, so I didn't buy currants because I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to figure out what to do with them. Instead I used 1/3 cup chopped orange bell pepper... It's not even remotely close to currants, but it was a totally delicious choice and I can definitely come up with ways to use the rest of the pepper! I think zucchini would be excellent as well.)
Wash, rinse, drain quinoa. Place in a 2 qt pot, add water and salt, bring to a boil. Once boiling rapidly, lower heat, cover with a tight fitting lid and simmer until all water is absorbed (15-20 mins) Do not stir grain while it is cooking. When water is absorbed, remove lid and let rest 5-10 mins.
Meanwhile, dry toast pine nuts in a skillet until they begin to change color and give off aroma.
Combine olive oil, lemon juice, mint, and parsley in a large bowl. Add scallions, currants (or peppers!), feta, and pine nuts -- toss. Add cooked warm quinoa a little at a time, toss well. Serve at room temperature.
Simple, light, fresh, filling, veg-friendly, delicious, nutritious--what's not to love?