The Internet Cookbook: Quinoa, anyone?

One of my Twitter friends had posted a lovely picture of a quinoa dish she’d made for dinner, so, in return, I promised I would post one of my favorite quinoa recipes. Okay, actually, I am going to post two of my most-used quinoa recipes- one for a tasty soup and the other for one of my favorite side dishes.

Quinoa is known as the “Wheat of the Andes.” Because it is a complete protein, high in iron and fiber, some people consider it a superfood. If it’s your first time cooking quinoa, remember that it generally needs to be washed first to remove the naturally occurring bitter saponins. I usually buy Bob’s Red Mill from Amazon because it is organic and has been pre-rinsed so I don’t have to wash it. Quinoa comes in several varieties, including a red quinoa.

Chupe de Quinua:  This is a traditional Peruvian soup that is incredibly tasty and filling. The recipe calls for 250 grams of quinoa; for the metrically challenged like me, that’s about 8.8 ounces. For the cheese, I used queso fresco.  Be sure to fry the onions and garlic until they are golden; it’s what gives the soup its lovely color.  

Quinoa with mushrooms:    I usually make this dish with red quinoa because I think that it looks more attractive. It is a great side dish and a nice change from rice. If you want to make the dish vegan, you can use water or vegetable broth instead of the chicken broth.  

I am always on the look out for more dishes using quinoa. Anyone else have any good recipes to share?

The Internet Cookbook: Ham and Asparagus Risotto

Risotto is a  family favorite in our house. This creamy Italian dish made of arborio rice cooked in broth is generally considered intimidating because it must be cooked slowly with constant stirring. The solution? The microwave oven. This recipe for risotto with ham and asparagus takes only about 30 minutes to prepare and because it is cooked in the microwave, it doesn’t require the constant attention of the stovetop version.

While it is possible to use other kinds of rice, risotto is traditionally made with arborio ricebecause of its ability to absorb liquid.

This recipe is versatile, too! You can change the ingredients to make various risotto dishes. I have made mushroom risotto or a traditional one with saffron and peas (Risotto con i Pisellini e Zafferano).  It can also be adapted for recipes such as Lemon risotto with saffron or Risi e Bisi (rice and peas w pancetta). You can also substitute vegetable broth or potato water for the chicken broth to make a vegetarian version.