12.7.08

quinoa with spinach and beetroot (κινόα με σπανάκι και πατζάρια)


I made a lovely, healthy, and hearty dish yesterday that boosted my protein levels! Nope, it wasn't organic chicken breasts. Nor was it a baked sweet potato. Instead, it was a healthy 'grain' that has its roots in antiquity. It's called quinoa. Revered by the Incas, this staple had been part of the diet of these native inhabitants of the South American Andes for centuries and still continues to be enjoyed by the Quechuas and Aymara people. Technically quinoa is not a grain (although it tends to be talked about as such). It's in fact the seed of the Chenopodium or Goosefoot plant.

I think of it as a substitute for rice. Where one would ordinarily use rice in popular Greek dishes, such as spanakorizo/σπανακόριζο (spinach rice), one could simply resort to this ancient supercrop. It's a great alternative, since couscous and rice seem to be an overkill in Mediterranean dishes.

Moving on. The following recipe is just for a single tummy. Perfect for a quick lunch or dinner post-gym.

1 cup of quinoa, washed under cold water to get rid of an otherwise bitter taste due to glycosids known as saponins
2-3 cups of chicken stock
2 cups of spinach, washed and sliced
1/2 cup of cubed beetroot (cooked, Tesco's finest is what I used)
1 clove of garlic, sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
1/4 cup of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Add oil and onions to a medium-size pot and cook onions until soft (over medium heat, making sure you don't burn those onions of yours). Add the spinach, beetroot, and garlic. When spinach has wilted, add the quinoa, making you sure you stir around all the ingredients. It's important that the quinoa doesn't stick to your pot (this step will give your quinoa a nuttier flavor). After a minute, add two cups of the stock. One final stir, and increase the oven knob to a high setting, so you bring the mixture to a boil. Once that happens, lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for about 12-15 minutes. Quinoa is cooked when you can see it translucent, with a white-spiraled tail detaching from the actually grain (seed, whatever you want to call it).
If this hasn't happened 12-minutes into the simmering, add more stock.

the final product

Serve immediately. For more recipes on this super-duper health food, check Susan Jane Murray's website, where the stunningly wondrous Irish cook, colleague, and friend offers plenty of wonderful recipes.

And for additional information on quinoa, please visit the BBC Good Food website.

1 comment:

str8chef said...

poly nostimo kai me polla diatrofika steixeia pou oloi xexname sth diatrofh mas. Keep on cooking and the rest will follow!!