Friday, June 17, 2022

Mmmmango Season!

Ataulfo Mangoes at different degrees of ripeness
Marvelous mangoes are nearing the end of their season and can be found at good prices by the case. I prefer the Ataulfo mango, slightly smaller fruit with a flat stone and buttery, sweet, smooth flesh. For information and a cutting demo with photos, check out my Featured Post ... "Exotic Ataulfo Mangoes" from April 2016.

Easy dicing method

Don't worry about having too many mangoes ripening at once. When they are on sale, I always purchase different degrees of ripeness and more than I can use fresh. I love having a bag of diced, frozen Ataulfo Mango in my freezer for that quick mango 'fix' or new found recipe. 

To freeze mango; line a bake sheet with parchment paper or plastic wrap. Then follow the preparation and dicing methods in my previous Blog Post, Exotic Ataulfo Mangoes. Spread out the diced mango on the bake sheet so they are in a single layer and will freeze in individual cubes. When fully frozen, peel mango off of the parchment paper, break apart if necessary and move to a zip type freezer bag. The majority of the frozen fruit should be individual cubes, not a frozen lump. I have purchased frozen mango in the past and was so disappointed with the flavor and quality of the fruit that once was enough. Now every year I get a few cases of the Ataulfo Mangoes when in season, on sale and I know I have a high quality product on hand.

Below is a refreshing, fast, super delicious, gluten-free, vegetarian recipe with quinoa (pronounced keen-waa) and mango... fresh mango is best but if you have frozen to use up, just defrost it first so it does not make the dish too watery. 

'Quinoa' is a good source of plant protein and fiber. It is a gluten-free, whole grain carbohydrate, as well as a whole protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. It is light and fluffy in texture but has the 'whole grain' ability to fill you up.

Served as a side, light lunch, in a wrap or lettuce cups ... fast and refreshing!

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
2 Tbsp. dry minced onion
1 Tbsp. chicken bouillon powder 
Cool quinoa and gently toss with remaining ingredients

2 tsp. Madras curry powder
1/2-3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. turmeric
2 Tbsp. avocado oil
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
3/4 tsp. Madras curry powder
1/8 tsp. dry mustard
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup diced Ataulfo mango
1 cup diced English cucumber
1/4 cup sliced green onions
2 cups mixed mesclun greens
6-8 gluten-free wraps or lettuce cups, optional

Rinse quinoa with cold water to remove the bitter tasting compound that coats the tiny seeds, place in a medium pot with water, dry onion, chicken bouillon, curry powder, sea salt and turmeric. Place over medium heat, bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover and gently simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and fluff with a fork, cover and let sit another 2-5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and spread out to cool.

Meanwhile make the dressing: whisk the oil, wine vinegar, curry powder and dry mustard in a small bowl to blend. Season dressing with salt and pepper to taste.

Curried Quinoa Wraps
Assemble the salad: to the cooled quinoa add the diced mango, cucumber, green onions and dressing. Gently toss to coat.

Serve as a side dish or for a light lunch serve on a bed of mesclun greens or with lettuce cups. For wraps: divide the greens between 6-8 wraps, spoon the quinoa mixture and wrap firmly closing one or both ends.

Until next time ... Bon Appétit!

Recipe by Sally Rae
Photos by Sally Rae

Thursday, June 9, 2022

What is Quinoa?

Organic Quinoa: Ivory, Red & White, Tri-Color

'Quinoa' (pronounced keen-waa) was a staple in the diet of the ancient Incas. It is a whole grain that is now rapidly growing in popularity due to its many health benefits.  

Quinoa is a flowering plant of the amaranth family. It is an annual plant grown as a crop primarily for its edible seeds. Though technically a seed, Quinoa is classified as a whole grain and is a good source of plant protein and fiber. It is a gluten-free, whole grain carbohydrate, as well as a whole protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. Quinoa cooks up much faster than other grains and when cooked the seeds expand rapidly, become tender but chewy and expel spirals that give a slight crunch. Cooked Quinoa becomes light, fluffy and nutty; the ideal canvas to showcase intense flavors, rich textures and your favorite veg, meats, dressings and sauces. Plus it provides 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and 220 calories per every 1 cup cooked. Over all it has 3-4 times more nutrients than brown rice. It is light and fluffy in texture but has the 'whole grain' ability to fill you up.

It comes in different varieties with different colors as well ... with white, red and black being most common. Most stores carry the common white quinoa but I found the color mixtures also available in a mix of red and white and a mixture of three colors at our local grocery stores. 

  • White Quinoa is the most readily available and is labeled simply Quinoa or sometimes Ivory Quinoa. It is very light and fluffy and the least bitter of the three. 
  • Red Quinoa tastes like white but when cooked remains slightly more al dente, therefore has a bit more chewy texture and holds its shape better in cold salads.
  • Black Quinoa is harder to find but like red quinoa maintains its shape better than white when cooked and it tastes nuttier.
  • Tri-Color Quinoa as the name suggests is a mixture of white, red and black into one bag.

Quinoa has a bitter, unappetizing coating called 'saponin' which occurs naturally as it grows to protect it from being eaten by wildlife. There is an easy 'fix' to removing this bitter, soapy flavor of the saponin coating ... by rinsing the quinoa grains thoroughly in cold water before cooking in any method. To do this, use a fine mesh sieve so you don't lose any of the tiny grains down the drain. Let the cold water run over the grains shaking the sieve and using your hand to move them around so all the grains get a good rinse.

Stove-top Quinoa with Curry
How to Cook Stove-top Quinoa - rinse the quinoa thoroughly. The basic ratio is 2 cups liquid to 1 cup quinoa. You can use water with a bit of salt, dry white wine or broth for flavor. Add liquid to the pot then add the rinsed quinoa. Turn the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil, then turn down the heat, cover the pot and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes. The liquid should be absorbed and the quinoa will have sprung little spirals which is the germ of the kernel indicating it is done. Remove from the heat and give it a fluff with a fork to loosen it up. Then cover the pot and let it sit for another 2 minutes. At this point, you can serve it hot or spread it out on a bake sheet to cool for salads or wraps.

How to Cook Quinoa in a Rice Cooker - rinse the quinoa thoroughly. Grease the inside of the rice cooker with butter or cooking spray. Add 2 cups liquid to 1 cup quinoa and turn the rice cooker to the white rice setting. When the rice cooker lets you know the cycle is complete, open it and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Unlike rice the quinoa cannot remain in the rice cooker on 'keep warm', it will go mushy. So, remove the cooked quinoa from the rice cooker right away.

How to Cook Quinoa in an Instant Pot - *NOTE: this method is the exception and uses equal portions of liquid to quinoa. Rinse the quinoa thoroughly. Grease the inside of the IP with butter or cooking spray. Add quinoa and liquid in the ratio of 1 cup liquid to 1 cup quinoa. Close and lock the lid, set the cook time for 1 minute. Allow the steam to release naturally. Open the IP, fluff the quinoa and remove from the IP right away.

Curried Quinoa Wraps
Using quinoa as the base in any grain bowl gives the dish extra protein, extra flavor and texture. It is quick to whip up as a side dish and absorbs flavors of any meat, vegetables or sauces. Try the Tri-Color Quinoa in salads, wraps or lettuce cups ... it adds a bit more chewiness, color and absorbs the dressing so it is in every bite.

Until next time ... Bon Appétit!

Photos by Sally Rae
Cooking method research from The Food Network