What an honor that I was given the opportunity to create/edit a cookbook that unites the concepts of healthy eating, with healthy lifestyles and healthy planting! Small farmers, (who also eat!), had been part of a creative food project geared toward promoting agro-biodiversity in their indigenous communities in northern Ecuador. They had developed many recipes using Andean ingredients and it was now time to publish them in a cookbook to spread the good, delicious news.
Annually OXFAM Italy, partially sponsored by the European Union, had asked me to judge culinary contests, where indigenous people (almost always women´s groups) invented new preparations using Andean food stuffs that they were again growing. They had been trained by regional chefs, as part of an ecological tourism project and were beginning to use edible lupine (“chochos/tarwi”), quinoa, amaranth and Andean tubers and roots in innovative preparations. What a joy to see their enthusiasm and talent, and to get to taste it!! They laid out a feast for the eyes and for the palate.
Oxfam Italy, also following the lines of Slow Food, promotes this new cuisine for use in local restaurants as well in the homes of indigenous families who receive international tourists. It turned out that many of the recipes were appropriate for vegetarians and vegans, as well.
The cookbook highlights my scheme of how to balance one´s diet to get all the nutrients necessary for a healthy life. As well, it includes extensive information on Andean products: names, origin, history, as well as cultural, technical, nutritional, and medicinal aspects.
I was also able to coordinate the bi-weekly printing of some of the recipes in a Quito newspaper along with my tips for the cook/buyer.
The exciting cookbook exists only in Spanish for the moment, so I am happy to present in English, one of my recipes that appears in it. In Ecuador there is essentially only one way quinoa is eaten, in a soup with potatoes and pork, and since Ecuadoreans are addicted to white rice, this variation on Fried Rice has gone over well. And I´m pleased because in this preparation one gets to eat lots of quinoa and thus can take advantage of quinoa´s high quality protein. It´s a quick recipe that can easily use up leftovers, too.
Fried Quinoa – “Chaulafán de quinua”
2 cups of rinsed quinoa (any color)
¼ cup vegetable oil, divided
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon grated, fresh ginger
1 onion, chopped
4 cups water
1 globe eggplant, cubed
1 green pepper, in thin slices
2 cups of steamed vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and/or zucchini)
soy sauce, to taste
Heat 2 tablespoon of the oil in a 2 quart saucepan with lid. Fry the quinoa, garlic and ginger for 5 minutes or until the quinoa gives off an aroma of toasted nuts.
Add the onion and continue frying for 5 more minutes.
Add the water, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. In the meantime, heat the other 2 tablespoons of oil. Over high heat, stir fry the eggplant and green pepper. Add them, the warm, steamed vegetables and soy sauce to the quinoa. ENJOY!! It´s both light and filling, full of fiber and anti-oxidants, and of course protein.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.