Spring is finally in the air and a rich variety of colorful vegetables, fruits and other season products cheerfully peeped out the stall at the food market, where I was to choose the ingredients for a tasty dish. It came in my mind by using quinoa (chenopodium quinoa) as main ingredient, which is not a cereal, rather a member of the same food family that contains spinach, Swiss chard, and beets : 5000 years are in the historical background of this seed, actually known as the ‘mother of all seeds’, which originated in the Andean region of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Chile and was considered to be sacred for Incas civilization. So, this time, our dish takes us to a different place of the world, where the scenery is made of high peaks and outstretched views, in spite of the previous culinary suggestions and typical food coming from the sunny Mediterranean landscapes. Indeed, quinoa is particularly versatile in the art of cooking and is also a high nutritive valued food for many reasons. One of these reasons is its considerable amounts of both lysine and isoleucine, which allow the protein in quinoa to serve as a complete protein source. Going into details, here there is a link to the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health for more interesting thorough explainations that might be worth to be read.
Now, back to our recipe that can be served as appetizer: it’s about light golden quinoa croquettes to be paired with some fresh goat cheese and a glass of excellent organic wine. First of all, place the quinoa seeds in a fine-meshed strainer and run cold water over the quinoa while gently rubbing the seeds together in your hands, in order to remove the saponins that gives that certain bitter taste. Then, if you prefer a nuttier flavor, place the quinoa in a skillet over medium-low heat and stir for about 5 minutes, otherwise go straight to the next step, that is, add some vegetable bouillon and cook the quinoa for about 20 minutes. Leave it to swell for about 10 minutes. In the meanwhile, dice some pumkin and cook it with some extra virgin olive oil, rings of onion, salt, pepper, little wine and let it to evaporate. Mash the mixture, add a hint of truffles cream and aromatize with leaves of mint. Now, it is time to mix all together: pumpkin, some grated parmigiano, the quinoa and an egg or two, it depends on the number of your guests, of course. Work and make croquettes on the palm of your wet hand and place them in the oven for about 10 minutes or until they will have a golden look. As already mentioned, serve croquettes warm on a dish with cheese and some vegetables (for this specific occasion I have chosen broccoli to garnish) and a glass of red Cono Sur Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenere seems to me a very good suggestion to try. Thnx and wishing you all ‘Buon Appetito’!