Quinoa (prounounced KEEN-wah) was a staple food of the ancient Incas who called it "the mother grain." It has recently become wildly popular in the U.S. and is a good thing to keep in the pantry. There's white, red and black quinoa, all good. Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain and is considered a complete protein because it contains all eight essential amino acids. It is also lower in carbohydrates and higher in unsaturated fats than most grains. It cooks faster than rice and expands to about four times its original volume. It can be used in salads, soups, side dishes, main dishes. Try it in easy-to-put-together rice cakes. Vary vegetables depending on what you have on hand.
Makes 8 cakes
1½ cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
¾ teaspoon cumin
1 cup grated carrots
5 ounces frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
Zest of 1 large lemon
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg
½ teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil (more as needed)
1 ½ cups plain yogurt (any fat level)
Bring quinoa and broth to a boil in a medium pot. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.
In small skillet, heat oil and sauté onions until they soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until golden, about 1 minute. Add cumin and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more.
In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa with onion and garlic mixture, carrots, spinach, zest, flour, baking powder, egg, salt and pepper.
Form mixture into 8 (3 to 4 inch) patties. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in large skillet and sauté over medium-high heat until brown and crispy on each side. Cakes may be kept warm in 350-degree oven.
Serve with yogurt.