I’d never gotten around to doing anything with it, mostly as I had no clue. Then came Susan Irby’s “Quinoa Cookbook,” 322 pages, 180 interesting recipes and written by none other than the Bikini Chef of Los Angeles. (Rush to Google, search for “Bikini Chef,” and there she is — but in a house dress.)
A bag of quinoa sat lonely in our pantry for five years. I’d never gotten around to doing anything with it, mostly as I had no clue.
Then came Susan Irby’s “Quinoa Cookbook,” 322 pages, 180 interesting recipes and written by none other than the Bikini Chef of Los Angeles. (Rush to Google, search for “Bikini Chef,” and there she is — but in a house dress.)
Irby is a health and fitness trainer on TV and radio in LA. This is her seventh cooking book. It comes under the “Complete Idiot’s Guide” series, for readers who don’t mind being profiled.
Quinoa is one of the world’s oldest and oddest foodstuffs. It’s popular elsewhere, but it never got out of the gate in the U.S., possibly because a bunch of health addicts promote it. Anything that healthy must taste like tofu, right?
Wrong. It can be an excellent addition to your diet, nutrient- and taste-wise.
The history on this one is hysterical. No one can figure out what it is — a grain, a cereal, a pasta? There’s evidence the Incas ground it into a flour. It’s not a grass, hence not a grain. Scientists have settled on calling it a seed. Testing indicates it is a direct relative to — surprise — the tumbling tumbleweed.
Adding 3.5 ounces to a recipe hikes the complete proteins by 18 percent. It’s big in dietary fiber, iron, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. NASA is considering growing it in space for long-duration human flights. They’ll need this book.
“Quinoa Cookbook” is loaded with Irby’s ways to add the miracle food to your everyday meals, including your breadcrumbs. Many recipes start with what she calls "Quick and Easy Quinoa" (2 cups simmered 15 minutes in a cup of water or until absorbed). The texture should be “light and pillowy” with a slight crunch.
I tried Irby’s Quinoa Cannellini Bean Dip and immediately noted the improvement. This one’s going on our next party tray.
The book is crammed with hundreds of uses. I liked the pasta. A half cup of Quick and Easy in two servings of vermicelli takes the flavor and texture of that common ingredient into new pastures.
You’ll notice something else: Quinoa is filling. A salad is all I needed for lunch. I’d suspect the seeds expand inside us, and that makes them a good dieter’s weapon.
Quinoa is quite the versatile food. Anything it touches becomes more healthy. The same is true for Irby’s book, and you needn’t be a complete idiot to appreciate that.
QUINOA CANNELLINI BEAN DIP
1 clove garlic
1 15-ounce can cannellini or Great Northern beans, drained
1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup Quick and Easy Quinoa (see above)
1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add reserved bean water in 1 tablespoon increments to thin, if needed.
Serve with fresh vegetable dippers or crackers.
-- “The Complete Idiot’s Guide Quinoa Cookbook” by Susan Irby