Every once in awhile I do something in the kitchen that even I think is cool, and today was one of those days. It wasn’t difficult. Not even that surprising. Still, I’ve never known anyone else to make a hot breakfast cereal out of quinoa. (In fact, a quick Google search turned up tons of others who have done this before me, including one recipe with a picture that makes you want to take a bite out of your computer screen, on the blog 101 Cookbooks; but I didn’t know about them, so it was still an invention for me!)
Quinoa is an ancient South American grain (actually it is the seed of a plant, but for cooking and eating purposes you can think of it as a grain). Heathfoodies, particularly those that don’t eat animals, love it for its high protein content. And it’s a good thing for the sake of the quinoa, because it’s the kind of food that has to be loved for something other than it’s deliciousness. Although it’s not bad, and it can actually be kind of good, it’s not good enough to inspire a craving. Or at least I have never craved quinoa.
Today’s breakfast, like all brilliant inventions, was the direct result of necessity in a time of desperation. To be more specific: a) I had a sweet tooth and due to boring-to-talk-about but very real health concerns, I try not to eat sugar; b) I was out of oatmeal; c) I have eaten in restaurants every night for exactly one week and I wanted to eat Good, Clean Food today; and d) I just so happened to have a bag of heirloom red, Bolivan quinoa in the cupboard left over from a recipe I tested from Akasha, the real restaurant-health food hybrid in Culver City that against all my better instincts, I happen to love.
The cereal is pretty straightforward. I might simply be able to say: Make oatmeal using quinoa in place of the oats. But since it’s my job to write recipes, here goes.
Quinoa For Breakfast
2 cups liquid (depending on who you are and what you have on hand, this could be water, rice milk, soy milk, almond milk, hemp milk, or milk-milk)
1 cup quinoa (if you’re like me and it makes you feel better to spend more money on special versions of basic ingredients, then seek out an heirloom variety of quinoa such as the organic red Bolivian quinoa that I used.
1/4 cup dried currants (or raisins or apricots or whatever dried fruit you want to use; or not)
1 tablespoon butter
Splash of vanilla extract
A few shakes of ground cinnamon
A big pinch (about 1/2 teaspoon) salt
1/4 cup chopped pecans, sliced almonds, or sunflower seeds, toasted
If you know how to make hot cereal without my help, please ignore everything I have written below and pay attention only to the amounts. Actually you can ignore those too, except the part about using two parts liquid to one part quinoa.
Pour the liquid into into a medium saucepan over high heat and bring it to a boil. Stir in the butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Add the currants and quinoa, stir, and return the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Serve it however you like to eat breakfast cereal. This morning, since I was trying to stay away from my usual why-use-milk-when-you-can-use-heavy-cream-instead way of thinking, and ate mine with a dab of butter in the center and some cold rice milk poured around the edges. (If I’d had nuts, i would have thrown those on top.) It was really good, despite all that nutritional value.