Monday, January 17, 2011

Make it with ..... Mondays # 3

Make it with ..... Mondays

"Make it with ..... Mondays" is definitely gaining some momentum.  I'm overwhelmed by the emails and encouragement that so many of you have shown for this event, and most of all I am beyond excited that already some of you have been inspired to try cooking with an ingredient you've never used before, as was the case with challenge saffron.  Challenge saffron is now over, and you can see all the saffron posts here;  also a reminder that the linky for joining your vanilla posts is still open for another week (closing midday Monday 24 January - NZ time).  So keep those vanilla recipes coming - remember that you can link up as many posts as you like (as long as vanilla is one of the ingredients), and linking up old posts is fine too.

I don't do a lot of baking as you know, but I do make a lot of ice cream, much of which starts out with a vanilla-flavoured base, so I really wanted to explore this wonderful ingredient in some different ways - I ended up making vanilla marinated scallops on a bed of spinach and roasted sweet potato with a vanilla saffron butter sauce, and vanilla roasted pineapple with pistachios and coconut yoghurt.  Both were wonderful dishes, and I found it really exciting to cook something that was completely unlike most of the things I usually make.

Now it's time to turn our attention to this week's special ingredient .....


Quinoa is an ancient grain-like crop that originally came from the Andes Mountains in South America - I say "grain-like", because unlike a true grain it is not a member of the grass family.  In fact quinoa comes from a species of plant known as chenopodium (or goosefoot), which is more closely related to species such as beets and spinach.

Because of its very high protein content (12-18%) compared to other grains, quinoa was of great nutritional importance to the early Andean civilizations - indeed the Incas referred to it as the "mother of all grains" or "chisaya mama".  Unlike other grains, quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids, making it a complete source of protein for humans.  It is also high in magnesium and iron, is gluten-free and easy to digest, and is a rich source of dietary fibre and phosphorous.

In its natural state, quinoa has a bitter-tasting coating of saponins which provide a natural deterrent to birds.  Most of the commercially sold quinoa has been processed to remove this unpalatable coating;  if unprocessed remove the saponins by soaking the quinoa in water for several hours, then change the water, resoak, and rinse well.

Quinoa can be cooked much like rice (I like to cook it in some vegetable or chicken stock), and can be used as a great alternative to rice, couscous or pasta.  Once cooked it is light and fluffy in texture, has a slightly nutty flavour, and is slightly chewy to the bite.  You will also find quinoa pasta and quinoa flour in many natural food stores.

So now it's time to get cooking - put your thinking cap on, get creative, and see what you can come up with.  Maybe you'll make a delicious, healthy salad;  an interesting "risotto" or pilaf;  some burgers, muffins, cakes or cookies. I'm sure there are many "unexpected" ways in which you could use this ingredient.  Can't wait to see what you come up with.

There are really only two rules for participating in this event:
  1. Your post must feature this week's ingredient.  If, however, over time you have found a good substitute when you come across this ingredient in recipes (maybe because you don't like it, or it's not readily available in your area, or someone in your family has an allergy to it), then, please tell us about it, show us what you use instead and explain to us why, and then of course link up - this is after all a learning experience and it's good to know about alternatives.
  2. Your blog post must link back to this post and mention "Make it with ..... Mondays"
That's it - create your post (or feel free to link up an old post if you have one that uses this week's ingredient);  multiple posts are welcome;  then scroll down to the bottom of this page where you will see a small box that says "You are next, click here to enter". Click on that link, and follow the simple instructions - please link directly to your post, not just your blog home page.

Want to join in but don't have a blog?  No problem - just email me your thoughts, ideas and recipes, and I'll include them in a round-up the following week.  To email me just go to the "Contact Me" button on my sidebar.

If you would like to use a badge in your post, simply copy the code in the box beneath the badge below and paste it into your post.  Feel free to also use it in your sidebar if you wish.


Please link your posts for "Make it with ..... Mondays" challenge quinoa using the linky at the bottom of this page.  The linky will be open until 11.59am Monday 31 January (NZT).

Please go to this page to link your posts for "Make it with ..... Mondays" challenge vanilla.  The linky will be open until 11.59am Monday 24 January (NZT).


  1. I have got to get these dates straight! I started to do a vanilla post and then thought that I was too late. I didn't realize we had a couple of weeks.

  2. Hi Pam

    Gosh sorry if I created a bit of confusion.

    So, there is a new ingredient posted each week, but the link for that stays open for two weeks - just thought that giving a couple of weeks would enable people to really explore the ingredient a little and give plenty of time for posting it. So still another whole week to go if you want to get your vanilla post done and linked up.

    Sue :-)

  3. I have *one* quinoa recipe. It's becoming an adventure finding a recipe in my archive that uses the ingredient, or when there's more than one, finding one that's the best fit.

  4. Yea!! I don't have any recipes that are my own for quinoa yet but I've baught some and plan on creating something with it this week. I'll put it on your linky when I have something that I'm happy with. I was woried that I missed the party completely, good to know I still have time :). Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  5. I like the idea behind this challenge! When my primary computer--the one with all my recipes and photo editing--is repaired, I'd love to join in!

  6. Sue i'm looking fwd for vanilla saffron butter sauce and vanilla roasted pineapple with pistachios and coconut yoghurt. specially the vanilla saffron butter oh that would be divine! and Quinoa is something i once brought it by mistake didn't like much look fwd for recipe here so that i could try something out it :)

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  8. Hi Suzy Q! I dont have a quinoa recipe ready to go, but I will tweet your lovely blog hop so others can check it out. If i can get to the store and buy some quinoa (we have freezing rain here) will try and write it up for this weekend! hugs! Alex

  9. Hi Sue,
    I just came across your blog today. It seems we have similar likes. I'm not a teacher but I do yoga and feel that it keeps me healthy and sane. I also believe in conscious eating. I will be posting a quinoa recipe later today or tomorrow.

  10. I haven't cooked with quinoa yet - I'll have to see if I can remedy that within the next two weeks :) I really enjoyed reading more about it in your post!

  11. Hi Dan - I'm so thrilled that you're enjoying this event - it's great that you're rattling through the archives and find some great recipes to link up. Thanks again for sharing your Quinoa & Black Beans post this week.

    Thanks for stopping by Miriam - can't wait to see what you manage to do with your quinoa :-)

    Hi Ananda - thanks so much for your visit. Both the Scallops with the Vanilla Saffron Butter Sauce and the Roasted Pineapple are posted now - was totally thrilled with both dishes, and will definitely make both again. Have also made a couple of quinoa dishes this week I am working on posting - I hope you try quinoa again. An important thing to know about quinoa, as mentioned in this post, is that you have to rinse it really thoroughly under running water or soak for a while in a couple of changes of water, otherwise (unless this has been done in processing) it can taste disgusting - there is a bitter coating on the grains which occur naturally and this has to be removed before it is edible. This could be why you didn't like it when you first tried it, which is a common occurrence unless you know that you have to do the rinsing process. Hope you give it another chance.

    Hi MM - oh, the joys of modern technology - gotta love it when it's working, when it's not - not so much! Would love you to join in once you're up and running again :-)

    Thanks for your support, Alex - would love to see what you do with some quinoa if you manage to get some - freezing rain is no fun, not at all!

    Mireya - I'm so glad you stumbled across my blog, and I'm so pleased that you are enjoying your yoga practice. I love the way people of shared passions and interests find each other across the blogosphere. Thank you so much for sharing your Quinoa & Pilaf with Pomegrante post :-)

    Hi April - thanks for stopping by - hope you enjoy cooking with quinoa - just remember to rinse it well before you use it :-)


  12. How did I miss this event so far?! I'm going to try to join in with quinoa--a favorite of mine. ;-)

  13. Thanks for choosing quinoa, I need some fresh ideas with it!

  14. Hi Deb - think this all came to fruition while you were on the road. I do hope you join in - I'm always so inspired by everything you come up with.

    Hi honeybeecooksjackfruit - hope you've found some fresh inspiration, and thank you so much for sharing your wonderful Quinoa Tabouli with us - looks beautiful.

    Sue :-)

  15. Hi Sue,
    Thanks for hosting your Make it With Mondays. I'm having fun coming up with recipes that highlight the ingredients you've chosen. This week I submitted a recipe for Quinoa Shortbread with Tropical Rum Glaze.

  16. Hi Michele - so pleased you're enjoying the challenge. Your shortbread looks fantastic - thanks so much for sharing it with us.
    Sue :-)


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