By Laura Langston
QUINOA;ONCE relatively obscure in
North America—is coming into its own. This
ancient grain is appearing with increasing frequency on restaurant menus, on grocery store
shelves and in recipes. In fact, it has become
so trendy that the United Nations declared
2013 the International Year of Quinoa.
Originally discovered in the Andes Mountains of South America, where it thrives at
high altitudes, quinoa (pronounced
KEEN-wah) was cultivated for thousands of years by
the Incas, who considered it sacred. They
called it the mother of all grains.
In reality, quinoa isn’t a grain at all but
a seed related to spinach and beets. And it’s a
nutritional powerhouse. A complete protein
with all essential amino acids, it’s also high in
fiber, magnesium, potassium and iron; low in
saturated fat and cholesterol; gluten-free; and
generally easy to digest. Because it’s so nutritionally rich, NASA is even considering it as a
possible food source for long-duration human-occupied space flights.
With a fluffy texture and a mild, almost
nutty taste, quinoa can be used on its own
like rice, couscous or barley, or in salads,
pilafs, casseroles and soups. Given its subtle
flavor, quinoa also pairs particularly well
with stronger-tasting foods such as bitter
greens or spicy dishes.
In its natural state, quinoa has a coating of
bitter-tasting saponins. Most quinoa sold
commercially has been stripped of this coating, but it’s still a good idea to soak quinoa for
15 minutes and rinse it or swish it in a strainer
under running water before cooking it.
Raw quinoa can be stored at room tem-
perature and cooked like rice using two parts
liquid (water is fine) to one part quinoa. It can
be prepared on top of the stove or in a rice
cooker (for the latter, follow the cooking
directions and water ratios for white rice).
Some cooks boost quinoa’s mild flavor by
cooking it in chicken or vegetable stock, or by
using a variety of seasonings. Hot quinoa can
be cooked in fruit juice and cinnamon and
mixed with nuts, fruit and honey afterward
for breakfast; quinoa that’s destined for a pilaf
or salad may be cooked with stock, wine and
Ancient food finding
The Better Burger
A meatless meat-lover’s burger, this is a full-flavored burger with the perfect combination
of toasted pecans, mushrooms, aged cheddar,
herbs and, of course, quinoa. These patties hold
together well for freezing, making for a quick
and easy meal.
1 cup water
½ cup quinoa
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil or vegetable oil
1 cup diced onions
2 cups finely chopped cremini or white button
1 teaspoon minced garlic
¾ teaspoon dried marjoram
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 large egg
;⁄; cup shredded, reduced-fat, aged
½ cup toasted pecans, finely chopped
;⁄; cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1 tablespoon sodium-reduced
soy sauce or tamari
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a baking
sheet or line with parchment.
Combine the water and quinoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and
cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let
minced garlic or onion to give it added punch.
Whatever your liquid of choice, simmer
quinoa for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the germ
separates from the seed. Cooked quinoa looks
like a tiny curl and has a slight bite to it, almost
like al dente pasta. C
Laura Langston writes and cooks in the
Quinoa and organic quinoa, as
well as a wide variety of fresh and
frozen produce and meats, are
available in all Costco locations.
sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and
set aside to cool.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes or
until the onion starts to become soft and transparent. Add the mushrooms, garlic, marjoram and
oregano; cook for another 5 minutes or until the
mushrooms are tender. Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg. Add the quinoa,
mushroom mixture, cheese, pecans, oats and soy
sauce. Scoop ½ cup portions of the mixture onto
the baking sheet and shape into 8 or 9 patties 1
inch thick, leaving 1 inch between them. Bake for
27 to 30 minutes, until slightly browned and crispy.
Serve with your favorite garnishes.
Makes 8 or 9 servings.
Tip: These burgers can also be fried in an oiled
skillet or grilled on a barbecue baking sheet.
Per serving: 150 calories, 9 g fat, 7 g protein,
13 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 25 mg
cholesterol, 130 mg sodium.
From: Quinoa Revolution: Over 150 Healthy, Great-Tasting Recipes Under 500 Calories by Patricia Green
and Carolyn Hemming. Copyright © Patricia Green
and Carolyn Hemming, 2012; not available at Costco.
Reprinted by permission of Penguin Group (Canada),
a Division of Pearson Canada Inc.