I am always up for trying new things but somehow missed out on black quinoa until just recently. It was an unusually hectic end of the week and I was scurrying through the pantry looking for a quick last minute dinner. I was drawn to a bag full of black sesame seeds (or so I thought). I pulled out the bag and realized it was black quinoa. I recognized the shape and knew it couldn’t be anything else. How had I forgotten about these intimidating little grains in my pantry? I need to try them. Now. I was feeling very capricious. Maybe things have gotten too complacent. Or maybe it was the gloomy weather which seemed to linger on like a bad melody. Regardless, I needed dinner and black quinoa was it.
Having eaten a lot of white and red quinoa over the last few years, I didn’t really expect this enigmatic grain to be any different than the other two varieties. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve most likely heard of quinoa, that little South American grain that’s really a seed, and the darling of the gluten/grain-free crowd. It has a distinct nutty flavor (somewhat like couscous), cooks up quickly, is loaded with nutrients, and can be used like any other grain. What’s not to like? Whether breakfast Maple Quinoa Breakfast Cereal, lunch or dinner, quinoa just plain rocks.
Turns out black quinoa is the Earthier sister; the less sought after sibling that often gets overlooked. It has the thickest seed coat so it’s chewier and the flavor is more pronounced. White quinoa is the softest with the thinnest coat, black quinoa has the heartiest coat, and red quinoa is in between. Nutritionally speaking, there is very little difference between the three colors. Where the difference really lies is in the flavor and texture. I was surprised at how resilient the black quinoa was. Once cooked up, it’s stayed true to form. It had depth and character and I felt very genuine eating it. This was not flippant fare.
I paired off my black quinoa with another potent food, Brussels sprouts. I used to loath Brussels sprouts when I was growing up. It just seemed like mini-me cabbage so why bother. Now I live in blissful awareness of its virtues. They were brushed with extra virgin olive oil, dusted with salt and pepper, and then placed in the oven to roast. Meanwhile I prepared the quinoa. Boil then simmer for 20 minutes. So Easy.
While the Brussels sprouts were roasting and the black quinoa was cooking, I made the tomato chutney. It was loosely based on my other chutney recipe Mango Chutney. A few simple alterations, some stellar spices, and a little chopping was all it took to create this piquant and savory chutney. Cumin and coriander-laden with a hint of balsamic vinegar, loads of fresh mint and natural sweetener, it was better than I could have imagined. I didn’t realize that mint and tomato were such a divine mix.
I added kale chiffonade to the platter and topped with finely ground pistachios. Fancy doings. Each piece to this dinner puzzle had amazing aroma and texture with lots of spice awareness all around. And let’s not forget about the nutrients. It wasn’t dinner anymore. It was a nutritional feast. The best part? It took me all of 40 minutes from start to finish. The taste? Chewy, moist, savory, tart, salty, minty, nutty, satisfying: it was gone in a puff of smoke. But the aura lingered for hours.
Some times you need food with drama, excitement, and enthusiasm. And sometimes you need to just shake up your kitchen. I hope you enjoy this tantalizing dish, and occasionally take a jaunt towards the unpredictable, the unexpected, and yes, even the intimidating. It’s makes life worth living.
This recipe is partially raw, dairy and gluten-free, and serves 2 – 3 persons.
Black Quinoa with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Tomato Mint Chutney
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- 2 cups Brussels sprouts
- 2 – 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or other oil of choice
- sea salt for dusting
- ground black pepper for dusting (optional)
- Add Brussels sprouts to a greased baking pan. Make sure you spread them all out.
- Brush with the extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Broil at 450 degrees for about 40 minutes or until fork tender.
- Remove and serve immediately.
Make sure to thoroughly wash the quinoa before cooking to remove the bitter saponin coating. This coating is natures way of making high protein seeds unattractive to birds and other seedeaters. Saponin is unpalatable, mildly toxic, and can causing low-level gastrointestinal distress in some people.
- 1 cup black quinoa or other quinoa of choice, rinsed thoroughy and drained
- 1 3/4 cups water
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- Add all ingredients to a pot.
- Bring to a boil and cover. I let it boil for a couple of minutes before reducing the heat.
- Reduce heat and cook for about 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
- Serve immediately.
- Yields about 2 cups.
- Can be stored refrigerated up to 5 days.
Tomato Mint Chutney:
- 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
- 1/3 cup minced fresh mint leaves
- 1/3 cup diced fresh green or yellow bell pepper
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger or 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground coriander
- pinch of ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground paprika
- 2 Tbsp coconut/palm sugar or brown sugar
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp sea salt to taste
- Add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl.
- Toss gently.
- Set aside or refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Yields about 2 cups.
Swiss Chard Chiffonade:
- 2 large Swiss Chard leaves
- Remove the stems of each swiss chard leaf. You can do this by running the knife along each side of the stem and cutting down the entire leaf. Set the stems aside and save for juicing or other recipes.
- Place one half leaf of the first leaf on top of the other half.
- Roll up lengthwise into a tight roll.
- Slice the entire roll very thinly (think shredded).
- Repeat this process with the second Swiss Chard leaf.
- Fluff and add to serving plates.
- finely ground pistachios
- fresh lime juice
- dried chili peppers
- Add Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Black Quinoa, Tomato Mint Chutney and Swiss Chard Chiffonade to serving plates.
- Garnish and enjoy.