Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Quinoa. Keen-what?! No, it's keen-wah...

My breakfast most mornings consists of Bob's Red Mill 5 grain oatmeal with fruits and nuts. But, not on Passover. All the smoothies in the world can't make up for the heartiness of warm oatmeal in the morning. I decided to try a little experiment with a Kosher for Passover seed (not a grain!) called quinoa.

Gourmet magazine said this of quinoa:

"Like the new kid in town rolling up in a shiny convertible, this grain-that’s-not-a-grain is becoming the belle of the Passover ball." Wow, so clearly quinoa is in the running for prom queen!

Actually, quinoa is a member of the beet family and is not related to any of the five grains prohibited on Passover. It's very easy to make and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.

Here's how you make it:

First, rinse. Repeat. And rinse again. You see, there's a coating on quinoa that can be tough on your digestive system. Rinsing it is the only way to get it off. Remember to use a very thin sieve to drain the quinoa because the seeds are so tiny. Squeeze out any excess liquid, then place in a medium saucepan. Now, toast quinoa in a dry saucepan. Toasting it first brings out a nice, nutty flavor. After toasting for five minutes, add about 2 cups of water. Bring to a rapid boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Now that you have cooked quinoa, what do you do with it? Really, anything you want. Here's one option:

1 cup of cooked quinoa
2 t pure maple syrup
1/2 banana, sliced
large pinch of sliced almonds
10 large golden raisins

And, here was the result:

Looks good, doesn't it? I wish I had a better camera so you can see what cooked quinoa looks like. Basically, it resembles couscous but it's translucent. You can really play with quinoa and make a dish that suits your tastes. If I had any dried cherries, I would have used them instead of the raisins and replaced the maple syrup with pure vanilla extract. Also, I would have traded the almonds for crushed hazelnuts.

Passover memory for today:

It's April 1991 and it's been a long winter for my parents. We had been caring for my ailing grandfather in our home for the last three months. After a lifetime of smoking, emphysema was taking it's toll on him. Even though it was a miserable condition, my grandpop always made others smile and laugh with his flirting, joking and dancing. His knowledge of cards and magic tricks were unmatched. He had one blue eye and one brown eye. And they both sparkled mischievously.

Right before Passover, my grandpop entered a hospice, as we could no longer give him the care he needed. He was always a fixture at Passover seder and it was hard to think about celebrating the holiday without him. Amazingly, we didn't have to. The staff at the hospice cleared out the furniture in their beautiful sun room and set up a long table and chairs for us. About 15 of my family members came with our meal served from tupperware dishes instead of the usual china. With my grandpop at the head of the table, and sunlight streaming in, it was the most beautiful seder table I had ever seen. We concluded the seder with the usual toast: Next Year in Jerusalem!

My grandpop passed away a month later. A man- who only had an eighth grade education - had seen the world by joining the army. My mother and aunt decided the grandkids should honor his memory by going on our own adventures. So, my sister and I both spent the summer in Israel. When we finally reached Jerusalem and gazed at the Western Wall, he was definitely with us.


Josie said...

That was a beautiful Passover memory. Thanks for sharing :)

Patsyk said...

I have some quinoa in the pantry, but haven't tried it yet. I'll have to do that soon.

ps... I've tagged you, so please stop by and see what it is and if you want to play along!

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