Last week we began a journey into the hinterlands of your grocery store and began to discover some of the more unusual items available to concoct delicious dishes. We discussed, Celeriac, Golden Syrup and Piloncillo. If you missed the article, click here.
This week you will be introduced to Quinoa, Peppadew Peppers, Agave Syrup and Chayote Squash.
QUINOA [pronounced Keen Wah]
This grain has been in existence for over 4,000 years in South America – but we have just ‘found’ it! It has a delicious ‘nutty’ taste. You can substitute it for rice in any recipe – and it comes with many more nutritional benefits.
To cook Quinoa:
Rinse 1 cup quinoa grains in a colander. Drain.
Pour 2 cups water in a medium saucepan.
Add the quinoa and if desired add a pinch salt.
Cover, bring to the boil and cook gently for 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.
Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Then fluff and serve!
• You can add vegetables and nuts to the mixture.
• You can cook the quinoa in chicken stock for added flavor and richness.
• You can make a Quinoa salad – by adding vegetables, nuts, dried fruits and pouring on a little vinaigrette or French dressing.
• You can used it as a stuffing for vegetables.
This is another recent ‘discovery’ in the U.S. but it has been used in Mexico and South Africa for many years.
Agave Syrup is hailed by nutritionists and dieticians since it is 1.4 to 1.6 times sweeter than sugar and is therefore a caloric ‘winner’. It is also a favorite of vegans. The flavor is mild and can be substituted for honey or maple syrup .
Here is a recipe using Agave instead of sugar.
1 pt. blueberries
1 cup cranberries
½ cup agave syrup
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
½ cup oats
3 tablespoons soft butter
1 tablespoon flour
½ cup chopped pecans
Place the berries in a saucepan and add the agave syrup. Bring to a boil and cook gently until the berries start to pop. Add the lemon juice.
Note: at this point it is a good idea to taste the fruit – since it may not be as sweet as you would like. In which case add a little more agave syrup.
Pre heat oven to 375
Place the cooked fruit in a small baking dish.
Combine the oats, butter, flour and pecans.
Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the berries.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the crumble is lightly browned.
Serve warm with sweetened Greek Yogurt [sweetened with Agave !!] or ice cream. Yum!
Is a small piquant pepper that was discovered in South Africa in the 1990’s.
A farmer came across a bush with strange looking peppers and decided to try and pickle them – and the rest, as they say, is history. It was introduced about 15 years ago at the Fancy Food Show [where I was the only person who knew what it was] and took the food industry by storm.
It is available in good supermarkets – bottled or where they have the serve- yourself condiments.
Here are some ideas for using Peppadew:
• Add chopped peppadews to potato or pasta salad
• Sprinkle on pizza.
• Sauté with broccoli or spinach.
• Add to ground beef or turkey when making meatballs or meatloaf for added pizzazz.
• Mix 2-3 mashed peppadews with 4 oz. soft cream cheese for an excellent dip or spread.
Looks like a pear – but isn’t. Chayote hails from Mexico and the Caribbean islands where it has many devotees!
The easiest cooking method is to pierce the squash then boil the chayote whole in their skins for about 30 minutes Remove from water, drain and then use in various recipes.
Cut the cooked squash into quarters and arrange on a dish.
Add a dressing of your choice [mustard is good] and pour over the chayote while they are still warm.
Allow to cool.
Serve with tortilla chips.
Cut the cooked chayote into halves and scoop out the flesh.
Stuff with your choice of:
Sautéed mushrooms and onions– topped with grated parmesan
Or… wait for it….. Quinoa!!
Now, won’t it be fun to step into some less-unfamiliar territory at your grocers?
I would love to answer questions about any other mysterious items you see in the grocery store. Let me know in the comments below and I will see what I can conjure up!
About the Author
McKinney resident Kyra Effren is a contributing writer for TownSquareBuzz.com's "Food" section. She is a retired food stylist and contributing writer for the "Food" section of Dallas Morning News. In 1975, Effren opened Cours de Cuisine Cooking School in Dallas and in 1978, she was awarded The Commanderie des Cordon Bleu in France for her contributions to French cooking. She has edited multiple cookbooks and served as recipe tester for a number of cookbooks including both of the Mansion on Turtle Creek cookbooks by Dean Fearing and baking books by Nick Malgieri.
Kyra welcomes any and all reader comments and suggestions. What would you like to have for dinner?