I’m fairly certain that upon first attempt at reading the word ‘quinoa’ aloud, most people pronounce it, “Key-noah”.*
*My hand is raised.
After that initial embarrassment, of which hopefully you weren’t corrected by a pretentious vegetarian* who eats quinoa on a regular basis but rather a sympathetic someone who has also made the mistake before you, you more than likely did one of two things. First you said the word, “key-nwa” about a dozen times, marveling at the pronunciation at such a strangely written word, then you either added quinoa to your ‘must try’ list of foods or tossed it into your ‘totally uninterested in trying’ list of foods.
*Not stereotyping vegetarians here, I swear!!
Usually, I’m eager to try something new, but in the case of quinoa, I immediately wrote it off.* Though I am always open to healthier alternatives to pastas and rice, I’ve learned that I can endure them for one or two meals, but I’ll never be able to make a complete transition. I’ve riced cauliflower, sauced spaghetti squash, noodled zucchini, but when all is said and done, I love my non whole grain carbohydrates far too much to let them go.
*And it had nothing to do with the individual who corrected my pronunciation.
After several years of avoidance, I decided to give the strange grain, quinoa, a try. Though I didn’t know much about it, the recipe I chose and the package of quinoa I purchased, made it seem like a fairly easy grain to prepare.*
*Likened to couscous**; both cook much faster than pasta or rice.
**However, nothing like couscous, because couscous is made of tiny balls of semolina, a course wheat used generally in homemade pastas. Quinoa is actually edible seeds of a grain crop.
Knowing that such a healthy grain would need some flavor, I went with a recipe from The Picky Palate Cookbook: Chili-Lime Shrimp Skewers over Garlic Butter Quinoa.
Garlic? Butter? What’s not to like?
Perhaps the most interesting part of preparing quinoa was that it requires rinsing in warm water. This is to rid it of its natural coating which can be a little bitter in taste. The only possible way of rinsing, without losing half of the tiny little seeds you’ve measured out for dinner, is to rinse them in a fine mesh strainer.
Though the chili-lime shrimp skewers were the true star of the show*, I was amazed that my first bite of quinoa didn’t make me wrinkle my nose like a toddler experiencing their first bite of spinach.
*Wow, were they packed with flavor!!
Please tell me you love my adorable sea creature dishes as much as I do!
However, I cannot be certain this isn’t due to the amount of butter and garlic* added to the pot.
*3 tablespoons of butter and 1 clove of garlic, along with salt, pepper, and garlic salt
Still, as you can see, I took a very small portion to start. The more I thought about the fact that I was eating more seed than grain, the more I thought about just ignoring the quinoa and eating a plate of shrimp and broccoli.
But I’m no wimp, so I closed my eyes and took a bite of my tiny portion* and was instantly more intrigued by the way it held the flavor of butter and garlic so well. While this did make me wonder what the quinoa would have tasted like alone, I put all wonder to the back burner and scooped up my tiny little serving, which was then replaced by more.
*Okay, yes, I mixed it with a bite of shrimp.
Will I make it on a regular basis? Probably not. But will I shy away from it at a restaurant* or in a recipe? No.
*Alright, not totally true. I do still avoid quinoa salads. But I also avoid pasta salads so I’d say that equals out.