Chicken Fried Quinoa?

It’s only been 2 years since I found out what Quinoa was. When I was the Chef of a busy and hip downtown Deli Style market. I oversaw every department from our fresh sandwich station to the bakery including all of the catering orders also. Needless to say it was a lot of fun as much as it was a massive work load. Then one day our Head Office decided to help us by asking us to come up with one new recipe for each one of my departments, I was responsible for 5. The idea was to add to the already large recipe binders and to promote diversity, but with 9 different chefs running 9 different markets the potential for new and exciting dishes was astronomical. Plus, it was a bit of healthy competition between chefs.
Quinoa

Quinoa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Coming with up with a new recipe is not as easy as people might think. There is a bunch of steps to consider, getting all the ingredients ready takes a little effort since I have to make sure all my items can be provided by my grocery providers on a large-scale since we had volumes of over 2000 transactions per day. So I enlisted the help of my sous chef, a lovely little not so old Chinese lady. As I was pondering if I should make a protein dish or a salad dish for our Deli department she uttered the words “Quinoa”. I wasn’t sure what she meant by that so I asked, “what did you say?”. She said “How about we make a Quinoa dish?” To make a long story short I decided to use my Cus-Cus tomato and avocado recipe instead.
 At first I thought I was sure this mystery grain was of oriental descent but quickly found out it came from the Andes mountain range. Since then I given it a fair try, and I have say that  I love it.

1) Quinoa as an Alternative: At first I simply boiled it to try in its natural state. Not bad I thought very earth and grassy flavour. But soon I discovered it was just like cooking rice. I could pair this wonder food with just about anything. I could infuse flavours, season before or after cooking, and arrange with any dish just as you would rice.

2) Quinoa as a Healthy Choice: having the highest protein content of any other grain Quinoa is still a carb loaded food. A great amount of starch is found so be careful when planning to start a diet regime.
3) Quinoa is Gluten Free: Although Quinoa is a grain it also cooks well when substituting for pasta. You can make Quinoa and cheese, Quinoa Carbonara or other family traditional dishes. Quinoa flour can also be found in select supermarkets, I haven’t tried myself but making gluten-free breads and pastas should be pretty straight forward.

 Perhaps you’ve had Quinoa before or even heard of it. My family has started using it on a regular basis substituting for almost any pasta dish, soup, and/or even rice in most cases. Quinoa is a lovely food that for years eluded me. In fact, Andes people have eaten this grain for thousands of years and its only been recently this grain made it to the mainstream. Not only its pack loaded with protein but it’s also delicious.

Give this Ancient Grain a Try? Please! 

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