During the last couple of months I've been coming across various bloggers singing praises to quinoa [keen-wa], the ancient grain* from the Andes mountains of South America. Quinoa was part of the holy nutrious trinity (the other two being corn and potatoes) of the Inca civilisation, and it has recently caught the attention of health-concious foodies. It is gluten-free and has a very high protein content. More importantly, the protein in quinoa has an amino-acid profile fitting the high 'ideal protein' standards set by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the UN, as well as other stuff that's good for us.
Couple of months ago I finally picked up a packet of organic quinoa from my local health food store, and last weekend I finally got around to cooking with it! My first quinoa recipe is from Ilva of the delightful Lucullian Delights. And - considering that I really enjoyed the slightly nutty taste and mild texture of quinoa (as did my three guinea pigs) - this is just the first appearance of my new friend, Quinoa, in my kitchen and on this blog.
Quinoa & mango creams
Source: Ilva of Lucullian Delights (slightly adapted, as I couldn't find lemon balm)
1 ripe and sweet mango (I used one of those super-fragrant Pakistani mangoes that have arrived in the shops in Scotland)
100 ml pre-cooked quinoa
300 ml water
3 Tbsp honey
6 Tbsp Maizena cornflour/cornstarch
a generous squeeze of lemon juice
If you need to cook the quinoa, then take 1 part quinoa seeds and 2 parts of cold water. Rinse quinoa thoroughly, and put into a saucepan with water. Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes or so.
For the cream, pureé the mango flesh, then mix with water and honey and cooked quinoa in a saucepan. Bring slowly to the boil.
Mix cornflour with some cold water until you've got a runny paste, then stir this into the mango and quinoa mixture. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes, until the cream thickens.
Season with lemon juice and pour into 4-6 dessert glasses. Cool before serving.
Thank you again, Ilva!
* Quinoa is actually not a grain, but a pseudocereal, yet in culinary terms you can treat it like any other grain.
Other wonderful dishes inspired by Ilva:
New potatoes and smoked bacon with fresh bay leaves (May 2006)
Spicy cauliflower with tomatoes (November 2005)