Well, we finally got around to trying one of last year’s biggest buzz foods – the ever mysterious quinoa (pronounced kin-wa). I must say up front that I had mixed reactions to this recipe and the grain-like seed itself. That’s right, quinoa is a seed, not a grain. I put out some feelers on Twitter for what it was like and decided this rice-pudding-like dessert/breakfast treat looked like the way to go.
First off, it turned out nothing like sublimely wonderful rice pudding (only that it’s also thick, big whoop) and, second, it was…interesting.
When I finally found the quinoa in the section of the grocery store labeled All Things Organic And Good in a Frightful World (just kidding, but I should’ve known it would be organic), I balked at the price a little. A small box of delicious seeds for $5.99? And I’ve no way of knowing if it’s going to be delicious? If my taste buds won’t run from it in terror and need therapy forever after? OK, quinoa, we’ll see what happens.
So this is quinoa. It’s tiiiiiiny wittle seeds. That every recipe advises that you need to rinse it prior to cooking because of a bitter coating. Yeah, we’re all for getting that mess off of ‘em. Except that, apparently, our box was a pre-washed bunch of seeds. So check your labeling before you bother washing.
The process is very easy and, like rice pudding, you’re going to simmer it in some milk and other flavorings till it’s tender. Or as tender as this stuff can get. I expected a texture similar to cooked steel cut oats, but it’s got a bit more chew and bite than even those.
The recipe calls for a 1/4 cup of sugar and while we thought this wasn’t a lot and anticipated a mildly sweet pudding, this ended up being way too sweet. Being that I’m so new to quinoa, I can’t say for sure why it was that way, but we figure that next time half that for the amount of quinoa used would be better. I also didn’t really care for the almond extract in the end. I usually love a hint of almond flavor if called for, but I’m guessing that the flavor the quinoa itself adds to this, combined with everything else, just wasn’t working for me.
On the other hand, though, sis blogging partner really liked it. I happily boxed it all up for her to take home.
Just give it all a stir and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ours seemed to need a little longer as it was still kind of soupy. Just be the judge of that when the time comes.
An egg is stirred in towards to end. Sis blogging partner asked what that was for and my only guess was to help thicken the pudding. I suppose it’s possible this is why our mixture seemed as if it still had too much liquid towards the end of the cooking time. Next time I’ll just stop there and add the egg, which is mixed with a small amount of the pudding first to temper it before adding to the rest.
In all honesty, this is not going down as one of my favorite recipes, but it’s got potential. If you think the ingredients below sound good, go ahead and give it a try. Next time, though, I’m leaving out the almond extract, lowering the sugar some and putting in a fresh vanilla bean instead. The quinoa itself seems to have its own unique and slightly strong flavor and I think that combined with the other things wasn’t to my taste. But, again, my sis liked it and that means there’s always hope. Hope – now if that doesn’t entice, what the heck will?
Warm Quinoa Pudding
slightly adapted from The Cooking Channel
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 35 minutes Level: Easy Serves: 2
- 2/3 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 1 3/4 cups 1-percent milk
- 1/8 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
- Pinch freshly grated nutmeg, plus extra for garnish
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/4 cup mixed dried fruit, such as chopped apricots and dried cherries, plus extra for garnish, optional
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
Put the quinoa into a medium pot. Add the milk, 1/2 cup water, the sugar, almond extract, nutmeg and cinnamon stick. Stir well to combine.
Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and place a lid, slightly ajar, on the pot. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the quinoa is tender and the mixture has thickened slightly, 25 to 30 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to keep a low simmer on the mixture.
Meanwhile, combine the fruit and orange juice in a small microwave-safe bowl. Heat until simmering, about 30 seconds. Set aside to allow the fruit to plump while the quinoa is cooking.
When the quinoa is tender, remove the cinnamon stick and whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot pudding into the beaten egg until combined. Whisk the egg mixture back into the pot. Cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the plumped fruit and any liquid in the dish. Serve warm or at room temperature garnished with a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and more dried fruit, if desired.
Apologies up front (or…at the end, actually) for the lack of enthusiasm in this recipe. I was disappointed at my first taste of what’s supposed to be an uber healthy food but especially awesome given its popularity lately. I think I need to try the recipe one more time with the adjustments mentioned or a totally different savory one and see how it goes. Go Team Quinoa! *two second pompom flutter*
The recipe originally states that it serves 4, but it really only produces about two cups cooked, so double the recipe if you’re really intending to make it for more than two people.
And just another reminder on the sugar – halve it if you’re not a fan of this type of dish being too sweet. I couldn’t believe with only 1/4 cup that it was too sweet for me. I changed it to 1/8 above to reflect this.
We ended up using 2% milk because that’s what I usually buy.