Interestingly quinoa is in the family of beets and spinach and originated in South America. It was a staple dish in the Andes, secondary to potatoes. Quinoa is a wonderful grain for vegetarians since it is high in protein and essential amino acids, unlike rice. A common cooking method is to treat quinoa much like rice, bringing two cups of water to a boil with one cup of grain, covering at a low simmer and cooking for 14–18 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed. The cooked germ looks like a tiny curl and should have a slight bite to it.
This dish is a Middle Eastern delight with dried apricots and dates enhanced with the aromatic flavors of cinnamon, cardamom and ginger giving this quinoa a rich warm and slightly sweet flavor. In fact it is sweet enough for a dessert, but I suggest it served with a curried vegetable dish. With this dish you are transported with flavors from around the world into your home. This recipe has been adapted from Martha Stewarts, Cinnamon Scented Couscous. I find that most dishes that ask for couscous can be easily adapted for quinoa, a gluten free grain.
1/3 cup almonds, slivered
3 cups water
2/3 cup dates, diced
1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 ½ cups quinoa
1 Preheat over to 350°F
2 Toast almonds in baking sheet for 10 minutes, stirring once.
3 Combine water, dates, apricots, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, salt, oil and quinoa in a medium saucepan under a medium high flame.
4 Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until all water is absorbed.
5 Stir in almonds and serve.