Taste Test

We tried it: Bio XXI range of quinoa-based baking premixes & pastas

Vegan and gluten-free foodies, take note: you can now make everything from pizza to chocolate muffins using protein-packed quinoa

11 August 2019 - 00:00
Quinoa pasta with prawns.
Quinoa pasta with prawns.
Image: Supplied

WHAT IS QUINOA?

Quinoa is a tiny seed, a South American staple produced from a flowering hardy plant that grows in high altitudes in rocky and sandy soils. It has been gaining in popularity around the world since 2000 and is changing the way we eat.

WHY EAT IT?

Marketed as a healthier and tastier replacement for rice, quinoa isn't a cereal but a plant, a relative of spinach, beetroot and chard. With more than 3,000 varieties, most of the quinoa produced is a white variety. For more exotic tastes there are red and black quinoa too.

There are over 3,000 varieties of quinoa, but white is the most popular.
There are over 3,000 varieties of quinoa, but white is the most popular.
Image: Supplied

Described as a "miracle" food, quinoa is unique in that it is a complete protein, containing all nine of the essential amino acids. It's gluten-free, crammed full of vitamins and minerals and, in a nutshell, an exceptional balance of protein, fat, minerals and vitamins with a low glycaemic index.

THE TASTE TEST

Recently a range of gluten-free, organic, vegan and quinoa-based foods became available in SA.

Made by Coronilla S.A, a Bolivian family-run grain and seed company, their SA range, Bio XXI, includes breakfast cereals, snacks and pastas. There are premixes for bread, pizza and cakes.

The pizza and bread were particularly impressive. The pasta dishes were fair and acceptable for those who can't or don't enjoy the original. My favourite in the range? Their chocolate muffins - easy to make, they are rich, dark, chocolatey, and enjoyed without any guilt.

The Coronilla promise is that all the products made in their factory in Bolivia are gluten-free, organic, vegan and quinoa-based.

NIGGLES

* The cost. At about R80 for a box of pasta that will feed three to four, it's on the steep side, but then I'm not gluten-intolerant nor vegan.

* The global demand for one type of quinoa is leading farmers to increase their yields to the detriment on the environment.

*Due to demand higher prices for quinoa may be good for the farmers but not for communities whose staple is quinoa.

TRY IT

PASTA WITH PRAWNS

(Pictured above)

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1 x 250g packet gluten-free, quinoa- based spaghetti or fettuccini pasta

105ml (7 tbsp) olive oil

1 small onion

250g prawns, peeled and deveined

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

5ml (1 tsp) cornflour mixed in a little water to a paste

50ml white wine

150ml vegetable stock

Finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon

Fresh parsley, finely chopped

Method:

  1. Cook the pasta as per package instructions.
  2. Preheat the oil in a frying pan and saute the onion till softened then add the prawns. Season.
  3. Add the cornflour to the prawns. Stir well.
  4. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Add the stock, stir add zest and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Check seasoning, add the pasta, mix well, sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Quinoa fusilli with mint sauce.
Quinoa fusilli with mint sauce.
Image: Supplied

QUINOA FUSILLI WITH MINT SAUCE

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:

1 x 250g pack gluten-free, quinoa-based fusilli pasta

30g butter

75ml (5 tbsp) olive oil

1 clove of garlic

150g baby marrows, cut into thin strips

1 egg, lightly beaten

A small handful of fresh mint

60ml (4 tbsp) grated parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Cook the pasta as per package instructions.
  2. Preheat the butter and oil in a frying pan then add the garlic and fry for a minute or two.
  3. Add the baby marrows. Cook till just tender.
  4. Remove from the heat then quickly add the egg, mint, cheese and seasoning.
  5. Serve immediately with extra Parmesan if desired.

For more info and availability, as well as additional recipes, visit bioxxi.co.za