Monday, August 23, 2010
Quinoa, the Protein Powerhouse!
I was introduced to quinoa a few years ago when Carly was working at a contemporary restaurant called "Tasteology." I'd heard of it before, but not being able to pronounce it, didn't brave asking about it in the grocery store. I know now that it is pronounced "keen-wa" and it is a nutty, delicious grain that behaves more like a protein.
Since I gave up many of the breads and starches of my past long ago, it's exciting to me when I find a healthy grain that is fun to work with and interesting on the plate. Quinoa has been compared to a couscous, but it's smaller, more delicate, and its appearance is unique. It can be combined with vegetables, herbs, cheese, etc. and eaten hot or can be used in a cold salad. Until recently, I've only used the light colored quinoa, but I'd seen several recipes that called for red quinoa and was anxious to try it.
So this is my first dish using red quinoa: Grilled Lemongrass Chicken with Red Quinoa and Vegetables. I found it on epicurious.com but it originally came from SELF magazine. The dish is very flavorful and I would definitely make it again! The chicken is marinated in lemongrass, shallots, ginger, canola oil, lime juice, and tamari (Japanese soy sauce), and I'm sure you would guess, a substitution of agave nectar in place of the brown sugar! It is then grilled and served over the red quinoa which is toasted, then cooked in chicken broth. The dish is complimented by a mix of red bell pepper and sugar snap peas sauteed in canola oil and tossed with fresh mint.
Red Quinoa has a little bit more of an "earthy" flavor, in my opinion and was perfect for this dish. Another first-time ingredient that I used was lemongrass. This is a fun ingredient to work with because in order to bring out the flavor, you need to whack it a few times on your countertop. You can take out a little frustration, then smell the lemongrass and be soothed by the wonderful aroma!
The recipe can be found at the following link: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Grilled-Lemongrass-Chicken-with-Red-Quinoa-and-Vegetables-354270