Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cookbook Review: 500 Best Quinoa Recipes

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Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of this cookbook from the author. I was not otherwise compensated for this review and all opinions are 100% my own. Recipes reprinted with permission from the author.  
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We all know quinoa is good for us, but what are we supposed to make with it? I've browsed other quinoa books in the past, but they never left me feeling inspired enough to want to add them to my already large cookbook collection. But since I've had so much success with Camilla's recipes in the past, I just knew this one wouldn't let me down, and it certainly did not!

For any of you who NEED tons of photos in your cookbooks, please do not let the fact that there are only a handful in this one dissuade you. These recipes can stand on their own, with or without photographic evidence.

With 500 to choose from, I wasn't quite sure where to start, so I decided to try recipes based mostly on what ingredients I had on hand. I did pick up a few things at the store during a regular shopping trip, but I figured the true test of a cookbook is whether or not I can turn to (almost) any recipe and have it come out great. (I mean if it has pickles in it, I'm not going to like it no matter how well-written or tested it is!) Can I make something with the pile of tomatoes that will only last another day or two? Or the other half of a monster zucchini before it shrivels up? Can I find a recipe in this book that uses those ingredients and tastes great. Well my friends, the answer is a resounding YES.

I have a particular fondness for the Vegetarian Main Dishes chapter, but the book also features many other types of dishes: Breakfasts, Appetizers & Snacks, Soups, Stews, & Chilis, Salads & Sides, Seafood, Poultry, & Lean Meat Main Dishes, Breads, and Desserts. Yes, Desserts. This book has got it ALL.

All the recipes in this book call for either the whole grain form of quinoa or quinoa flour. If you can't find quinoa flour, check if your grocery store has a separate gluten-free section which is where I found it. Also, when you first open the bag of quinoa flour, don't be alarmed if you think it has a very strong scent. That is not what your baked goods are going to taste like. I find that quinoa flour lends just a bit of a pleasant, nutty taste to whatever I'm making.

The first recipe I'd like to share with you (with Camilla's permission of course) is for Quinoa al Pomodoro. This was hands down the most delicious quinoa dish that has ever passed my lips. While it is definitely more of a summer recipe, I was lucky enough to have several tomatoes harvested from the end of my aunt's garden bounty. This dish is so simple, yet so spectacular.

Quinoa al Pomodoro
Print Recipe

Makes 6 servings
1 1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 1/2 cups ready-to-use reduced-sodium vegetable broth (GF, if needed)
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chopped tomaotes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
fine sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
4 oz ricotta salata or mild feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
2/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)

1. In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa and broth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine garlic, tomatoes, oil and vinegar. Generously season with salt and pepper. Let stand for at least 10 minutes  to blend flavors.

3. Add tomato mixture to the quinoa, tossing to combine. Serve sprinkled with cheese, basil and pine nuts (if using).

I also wanted to give you a sample of what a baking recipe using quinoa flour tastes like, so the second recipe I'm sharing is for Scottish Oat Scones. I was fortunate enough to travel to Scotland earlier this year and since I've long been enamored with all things Scottish, this was a natural pick for me! The dough was a bit stickier than I'm used to for a scone which made it a little difficult to work with, but the flavor was out of this world! They are delicious plain, but Camilla suggests serving them with "ample amounts of jam or marmalade and a mug of tea" and I can't say that's a bad idea!

Scottish Oat Scones
Print Recipe

Makes 8 scones
Preheat oven to 425 F
Large rimmed baking sheet, lined with parchment paper

1 1/3 cups quinoa flour
1 1/4 cups large-flake (old-fashioned) rolled oats (certified GF, if needed)
1/3 cup natural cane sugar or packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder (GF, if needed)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 large eggs
3/4 buttermilk

1. In a large bowl, whisk together quinoa flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until crumbly. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and buttermilk until well blended.

3. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just blended.

4. Turn dough out onto a work surface lightly floured with quinoa flour. Knead briefly until dough comes together. Gently pat into an 8-inch circle about 3/4 inch thick. Cut into 8 wedges and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 13 minutes or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool on pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then transfer to the rack to cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm or cool completely.

Other recipes I've made: Swiss Chard Quinoa with Goat Cheese; Zucchini, Carrot and Butter Bean Quinoa; and Cinnamon Applesauce Bread. (All were fabulous!)

And a few more I can't wait to try: Maple Breakfast Biscotti, Zucchini Quinoa Fritters, Smoky Corn & Quinoa Chowder, Caramelized Onion Quinoa Tart, Pumpkin Spice Scones, Gingerbread Scones with Lemon Drizzle, Sweet Potato Biscuits, Cranberry Orange Tart, and so many more!

Don't forget to check out Camilla's other cookbooks and her blog, Enlightened Cooking, which also has a great collection of recipes. A few of my all-time favorites you can find there are her No-Stir Crock Pot RisottoGnocchi al FornoWhole Grain Buttermilk Biscuits, Roasted Carrot Hummus, & So-Easy Goat Cheese, Pesto, and Tomato Tart.

In fact, all Camilla's recipes work extremely well for the home cook. They are tried & true recipes that I can always count on and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of this cookbook. I was not otherwise compensated for this review and all opinions are 100% my own. Recipes reprinted with permission from the author.

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