Friday, July 11, 2014

Black Quinoa with Mushrooms & Red Peppers

They don’t call it an ancient grain for nothing. Quinoa is a flavourful, wholesome grain-like seed that was first cultivated in the Andean highlands of South America over 7000 years ago. Pronounced “keen-wa”, quinoa comes from the Quechua language spoken by many indigenous people in South America, and was one of the most sacred foods of the ancient Incas, a plant so nourishing, delicious and vital, that they called it 'chesiya mama' — the ‘mother grain’. However it's not actually a grain — it's a seed. One of the world's healthiest foods, quinoa contains a perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids, and is a great source of protein, making it an increasingly popular food choice for those looking to incorporate superfoods into their everyday diets.

Gluten-free, wheat-free, and nutrient-packed, quinoa is ideal for those who are health-conscious, vegetarian, and/or physically active, as well as for those with gluten intolerance, wheat allergies, and other digestive disorders. But that's not all, it can be enjoyed guiltlessly knowing it's free of cholesterol and trans fats. Quinoa grows in a rainbow of colours, but the most commonly available are red quinoa, black quinoa and white quinoa. Taste and nutrition are similar among the colours. Quinoa is easy to prepare and its fluffy texture and slightly nutty flavour make it an excellent alternative to white rice or couscous. When cooked, its grains quadruple in size and become almost translucent. White quinoa tends to cook up fluffier, while red quinoa and black quinoa have a crunchier texture and the grains don’t stick together as much. This recipe for Black Quinoa with Sautéed Mushrooms & Red Peppers doesn't get any easier or more delicious.

Black Quinoa with Sautéed Mushrooms & Red Peppers
Serves 2

1/2 cup black quinoa
1 cup water
4 large cremini mushrooms, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
2 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and white pepper 
Mint sprig, for garnish

Rinse quinoa under cold water in a fine mesh strainer then place in a pot with 1 cup cold water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.

Heat the vegetable oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high then add the diced mushrooms and red peppers and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the vegetables with the oil to the quinoa and stir to combine. Season with salt and ground white pepper to taste, and set aside.

Spoon the quinoa into a decorative bowl and garnish with a sprig of mint.

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