Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is an amazing South American grain eaten for centuries by the the Andeans and Incans who referred to it as "the mother of grains". What makes this grain special is that it is a complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids our body needs in order to build protein in our own body which most grains do not do and what we resort to animal products for, making this a wonderful ingredient to include in the diets of vegetarians and for omnivores who wish to decrease the amount of meat they eat. It is also a great plant source of fibre, potassium, magnesium and iron. It is also very interesting that Australian dietary recommendations advise us to eat 5 serves of grains per day, and yet we rely on wheat based items like breads and wheat based cereals to achieve this, yet the amount of gluten intolerant people are steadily on the rise. Perhaps we need to introduce some more variety in the grains we consume so as not to overload our bodies, remember – everything in moderation. So now we need to learn how to introduce these more unfamiliar and wonderful things into our kitchen. Quinoa like rice, buckwheat and other accompaniment grains, is quite bland in flavour and chances are that most people probably will be not at all fussed when trying it for the first time. Complementing it with stronger flavours is essential and one of my favourite ways to cook with quinoa is to use it to thicken up and add some heartiness to soups. Here is a delicious AND healthy recipe I made up today when I passed a stall selling freshly picked-this-morning sweet corn cobs (you can use tinned corn but I cannot get tinned corn at my supermarket without both added sugar and salt and fresh corn is so so sweet and takes no longer to cut of the cob than opening a can. Better yet try growing it yourself, it is surprisingly quick and easy), I picked some silverbeet and parsley from the garden that always needs picking quicker than I can eat it and the other ingredients were all in the cupboard, the beauty of soups is that you can add or leave anything out and combine your favourite flavours as you wish.
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tsp unsalted butter, marg or olive oil
2 cups (500ml) salt-reduced chicken stock
½ cup white (royal) quinoa
2 corn cobs, kernels removed and cobs discarded (you could use 1 can of corn)
1 small zucchini, diced
4 large silverbeet leaves, chopped
3 sprigs parsley, chopped
2 tbsp grated parmesan
2 tbsp cream cheese cream
Pepper to taste (these should be enough salt in the stock and cheese not to add more)
2 cups self-raising flour (use wholemeal for a healthier roll)
30g unsalted butter
2 tbsp mixed dried herbs (or fresh)
½ cup grated parmesan
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
½ cup milk
½ cup water
- Heat butter or oil over med heat and fry onions and garlic until transparent
- Add corn, zucchini, quinoa and stock, increase heat to high until boiling then reduce to a simmer, simmer for about 15 mins while preparing the rolls.
- Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
- In a large mixing bowl, rub butter into flour until a breadcrumb like consistency is produced, add most of the grated parmesan (leave some to sprinkle on top), herbs and garlic and mix. Make a well and add water and milk together, reserving 2 tbsp to glaze. Tip out onto a floured surface and knead gently until combined (not too much). Divide into 6 balls, place on a greased oven tray, glaze with milk/water mix and sprinkle with parmesan. Pop into the oven for 15-20 mins or until hollow when tapped and golden.
- Meanwhile, add silverbeet and parsley to soup and cook for a couple of minutes, remove from the heat and add parmesan and cream cheese and season with pepper. Pour into a blender or food processor and blend to your desired consistency, I keep mine pretty rough. This is quite a thick soup so you can add some extra stock or even water if you wish to thin it at all.
I don’t usually advocate including a lot of butter in one’s diet, however piping hot damper rolls fresh from your oven definitely call for a little extra. The soup will feed 2 very hungry people of 4 as an entree, and the extra rolls are there as I guarantee you, you will be wanting another one later.