Keenwhat? That’s how I felt the first time I was introduced to quinoa (pronounced keenwah). It took me a while to know how to pronounce it and even longer to be willing to try it in my own kitchen. I’ve seen it on various salad bars and sitting next to couscous, rice and pasta, it never looked very good. But, it must be good. I am hearing about it over and over and, perhaps, in my own kitchen, we can get properly acquainted.
When I originally wrote this post back in 2009, I wanted to try a lot of new things in the kitchen. I really wanted to make tarts and thought that would be so hard. Now six years later, I’m making them in my sleep. I had recently started using cast iron and now I have cast iron pans and put them up there with air conditioning in the South. I wanted to get comfortable with alternative flours, and this was before I heard about Einkorn. Quinoa was new to me, and in reflection, I made a pretty good dish for not knowing anything about it. I’ve made several quinoa dishes here and here, but this one with red quinoa is the biggest favorite.
Quinoa is packed with goodness. First the texture: crunchy, chewy, satisfying. Second the taste: nutty and earthy, adaptable to sweet or savory. Third, the nutrition: a complete protein, meaning quinoa includes all nine essential amino acids, especially high in lysine, essential for growth and tissue repair. And, a bonus for Mr. Spinach Tiger, it is helpful with migraine headaches.
And, lastly: the fascinating history of a food that has been . Thought to be sacred by the Incas who have eating this for over 5000 years, quinoa has been referred to as chisaya mama or mother of all grains. But, quinoa is not a grain and is related to the spinach, chard, and beets family. Who knew? But, it cooks like a grain, and can easily replace rice or barley in a savory dish, or be served as hot breakfast cereal.
Typical of my creative chaos in the kitchen, I didn’t measure or seek out any directions. I didn’t know you should soak quinoa for 15 to 30 minutes to loosen the soapy saponin which gives quinoa a bitter taste. I did give it a good rinse and that seemed to work.
It’s very cold outside and I’m holding onto joy of wintry vegetables that are comforting. A few days ago I bought the smallest butternut squash, with plans for a nice soup for lunch. But now I’m envisioning it roasted, and layered with red caramelized onion atop a crunchy, savory quinoa pancake. A recipe was forming in my head.
Chop, chop, slice, slice, I took my baby butternut squash and sliced it across, leaving skin on and taking out seeds. And, I was on my way. The pancake exceeded my expectations, and, the taste and combination of textures was delicious. It’s the kind of crunchy, crispy salty, mouthful of flavor and interest that will make me want to eat this again and again.
The Quinoa pancake is made with pecorino cheese, and fresh thyme.
Assemble by alternating onion and squash on top of quinoa pancake.
How do you eat your quinoa? What new food or cooking method do you want to tackle this year?
- Recipe for Butternut Squash Quinoa Pancake
- 1 cup quinoa, yields 3 cups cooked
- 1 small butternut squash
- 1 medium red onion
- 1 t fresh thyme (or 1 tablespoon chopped parsley)
- 3 tablespoon grated pecorino romano
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Sea salt, pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 450
- Preheat baking stone
- Soak quinoa in water 15 minutes, rinse well
- Slice butternut squash in half inch pieces with skin on, discarding seeds. Slice red onion. Chop herb
- Quinoa should be ready to cook. Put in pot with 2 cups water, salt, bring to boil, lower heat, cover, simmer for 15-18 minutes. This will yield 3 servings or 3 pancakes.
- Arrange butternut squash and onion on roasting sheet. Roast squash and onion, not overlapping . You can put them on same or different sheet. Brush LIGHTLY with olive oil and roast 6 minutes per side. Onion should be caramelized. (I roasted my squash on a baking stone).
- Once quinoa is cooked, fluff, mix in pecorino, herbs, and season to taste. Flatten into three discs on parchment paper placed on baking stone or cast iron griddle. Place in lower part of oven, bake for 8-10 minutes, turning once browned. It easily falls apart, so I put a dish over it and used two pot holders with a covered dish to flip.