Thursday, January 22, 2015

Red Quinoa and Black Rice

Some may be wondering about these two things in the title: Red Quinoa and Black Rice. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) has become much more popular and accessible these days, while black rice is perhaps less so. I only found out about red quinoa in the last couple of years. While I had some black rice prior to even knowing red quinoa existed, black rice is far less available in many places. There is always the internet. The entire world has opened up so much more each year, providing availability of items we had no real hope of acquiring just a few years ago. 
Red Quinoa

Red Quinoa, and Quinoa in General

Quinoa is used similarly to grains, but is not even related, making it a wonderful replacement for persons with gluten intolerance. It is ground into flour, though using quinoa flour alone produces rather dense baked goods. This is remedied by using it in combination with rice or tapioca flours. Quinoa is far higher in proteins than wheat, making it a more complete protein source. It has far higher fat content than most grains, and it is a heart-healthy kind of fat, mainly monounsaturated oleic acid, alpha-linoleic acid and omega-3 fatty acids. 

Quinoa is also a significant source of the antioxidant flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol, and can contain a greater concentration of these flavonoids than berries such as cranberries and lingonberries. Other significant properties being studied are quinoa's anti-inflammatory properties, effect on diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Information in this section taken from this website.

Black Rice
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Black Rice, or Forbidden Rice / Emperor's Rice, was once forbidden to the common people and only eaten by Emperors. It is still relatively uncommon in the US, but as demand rises, it will become more widely available. 

One spoonful of black rice provides the same amount of anthocyanin antioxidants (the purple and dark red pigments that give color and nutrients to blueberries, grapes, blackberries, dark cherries and acai berries) as a spoonful of blueberries. Out of various kinds of rice, including polished white rice, brown rice, purple rice and red rice, black rice has the highest concentration of nutrients. It has nearly double the fiber of brown rice. The information in this section was gleaned mainly from this website.

Moving on...

With the information here, one can understand the reason why these two foods are of interest. For me, this is coupled with the fact that they taste really good. Either quinoa or rice is easy to prepare and both lend themselves to the addition of other vegetables and or fruits to enhance the flavors. I have made rice "salads" in past, using the addition of some chopped fresh vegetables and a light vinaigrette for flavors. One of my daughters has done the same with white quinoa, with fantastic results. In fact, she is the one that started me on quinoa to begin with.
Red Quinoa & Black Rice Salad

I have had many colors of rice in my pantry. Currently, I have white basmati rice, arborio rice, brown rice, purple sticky rice and bamboo rice (infused with bamboo juice), in addition to black rice. I was thinking back to a rice salad recipe i used long years back. It used white rice and "wild rice" (not a rice at all). I recall really liking that recipe, though I never made it again. I thought that this combination of black rice with red quinoa would be interesting to look at, and with the addition of some vegetables, would make both a lovely presentation as well as great flavor and texture. As we are in the dead of winter up here where I live, while vegetables are available, they are more expensive and sometimes I just avoid buying things when who knows how far they have traveled before reaching a store nearby. 

Some things I do keep on hand are artichoke hearts, pimiento and other things in cans or jars, for when the mood strikes. In this case, the mood struck yesterday afternoon, when thinking of what to add to this recipe I was thinking up. There is a timing difference between cooking black rice and quinoa, so two pots must be dirtied to make them, but sometimes, the desire to eat a thing outweighs the consideration of how many things to wash up afterwards. 
Red Quinoa and Black Rice Salad, served with pork chops

Ultimately, I just loved this dish. It did turn out as pretty as I imagined. In summer I might add in other fresh vegetables such as green or red bell peppers, carrot, summer squash and other things. I love cilantro, and used it in this dish, but if cilantro is not your thing, use parsley instead, or even celery leaves. I used feta cheese in my salad, but other cheese can be substituted as desired. I had Feta in the fridge, as well as crumbled blue cheese and goat cheese, but opted for the Feta as it's saltiness was to play the part of any extra salt needed. If all you have available is white quinoa and brown rice, these would work just as well, though without quite the pretty color combination. Brown rice often must be cooked longer than the black rice also, so keep this in mind.

Red Quinoa and Black Rice Salad

serves 4 - 6
Red Quinoa & Black Rice Salad

1/2 cup black rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water

3/4 cup red quinoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 - 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
salt and pepper

1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimientos, drained
1 (6.5 or 7-ounce)jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
4 ounces diced or crumbled Feta cheese

In one small saucepan combine the first three ingredients, bring to boil, cover the pot, reduce temperature and cook until rice is tender and water is evaporated, about 30 minutes. If water is not completely gone, drain of any excess. Cool to lukewarm.

In another saucepan, combine the next three ingredients, bring to boil, cover, reduce heat and cook until water is evaporated, about 15 or so minutes. Cool to lukewarm.

Mix together all the vinaigrette ingredients and whisk well. Set aside. Drain the artichokes and cut them into smaller chunks. Add the diced pimiento to the artichokes. Place the cooled rice and quinoa into a larger bowl and toss. Add the vinaigrette and toss. Add in all remaining ingredients and mix lightly but thoroughly. Serve tepid. 

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.