Keen on Quinoa

Quinoa (KEEN-wha) is actually not a grain, but a tiny seed with a nutty flavor that is  loaded with protein and minerals and is a great source of fiber. The name comes from the Quechua word kinwa and has been enjoyed by the Andean people for 4000 years. It comes in white, black and red varieties and cooks like rice.

This savory recipe comes from a Frenchman named Georges Bejue who offered it to me cooked with lots of bay leaves and garlic and a few spoonfuls of olive oil. It is great eaten alone, and even better topped with roasted or stir fried vegetables, Salmon, chicken, or beans.

1 ½ cup quinoa

3 cups water

2 Tb olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

6 bay leaves

salt to taste

several grinds black pepper

Rinse quinoa, then combine with other ingredients and cook in rice cooker until done. Adjust salt and pepper.

Georges recommends cooking with Himalayan pink mineral salt, which contains a wide array of 84 health-giving minerals and trace elements including calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper and iron. It’s also quite pretty.

Red quinoa served with roasted red bell peppers and baby eggplant, sliced and stir- fried in olive oil with garlic, shallot, sliced oyster mushrooms, and fresh spinach,. Sprinkle a bit of white wine, salt and pepper and stir in.

Roasted Mushroom-Barley soup with Beef Broth

roasted mushroom barley soupThis earthy soup is made with four kinds of mushrooms, although you can vary the type. It’s rich made with beef broth, but vegetarians can use vegetable broth as well. Serves 6

½ cup pearl barley (not to be confused with Pearl Bailey)

5 cups water

1 lb beef femur  bone

2 medium cloves garlic

2 leeks, white and light green part only.

1 onion

4 stalks celery

2 large carrots, peeled

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp salt, to taste

1 Tb olive oil

2 lbs crimini (brown) mushrooms

6 fresh shiitake mushrooms

4 King mushrooms

1 large bunch of oyster mushrooms

4 dried shiitake mushrooms

1/4 to 1/2  tsp white pepper, depending on how peppery you like your soup

3 Tbs cooking sherry

several grinds black pepper

several sprigs fresh thyme leaves to garnish.

Make beef broth: Bring the water to a boil with the beef bone. Chop leeks, celery, carrots and garlic finely and add to the water. Grind the dried shiitake mushrooms coarsely in a spice mill or clean coffee grinder. Add them to the vegetables along with the salt and dried thyme. Simmer for at least 3 hours. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, skim the fat off the soup. Remove the bone and blend the soup.

Bring soup to a boil. Add barley and let simmer for 20 minutes. While barley is simmering, heat oven to 425 degrees. Clean mushrooms well (I soak them several times in a salad spinner, then clean each one with a brush or paper towel.) Trim the woody ends from the  crimini and shitake mushrooms then toss with olive oil (or spray with olive oil spray) and roast them  for 20 minutes until they are soft.  While they are roasting, chop the oyster and King mushrooms and add them to the broth along with the white pepper to taste.

roasted mushroomsAdd the liquid from the roasted mushroom to the soup. Cut the roasted mushrooms in quarters and slices and add them  to the broth.

Simmer  for 20 minutes. Correct seasonings, adding several grinds black pepper and sherry. Sprinkle a bit of fresh thyme leaves on top. Serve the pearl barley inside the oyster mushrooms.