When I was researching dishes to cook for my South American themed Gastronauts Supper Club dinner, I came across a recipe on About.com for Galletas Saladas de Quinoa or, Quinoa Crackers. The idea of a nutty biscuit made from quinoa appealed so whilst it didn’t make it onto the menu that night, I held on to the recipe.
Quinoa is an ancient grain that originates from the Andes region of South America and is very high in protein. It’s therefore a good substitute for meat, which is beyond the means of many South Americans on a day to day basis. When I travelled to South America, we rarely saw it on menus as it’s considered ‘peasant or poverty’ food and not suitable for tourists. Of course, quinoa is hugely popular in European countries at the moment as part of the current passion for South American, and in particular Peruvian, foods. It’s so popular that we actually know how to pronounce it like the locals – ‘keen-wa’
The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2013 ‘International Year of Quinoa‘ in recognition of the ancestral practices of the Andean people whose knowledge and agricultural practices are in harmony with nature. It’s seen as part of the solution to improving food security as the world population grows. Quinoa is a seed crop that’s not really a cereal or a grain as it’s not a member of the grass family. It’s actually closely related to spinach and beetroot, which it pairs wonderfully with. There are numerous varieties of Quinoa available including red and black varieties which, when mixed with white in this recipe, would give a wonderful ‘seeded’ appeal to these biscuits. The crackers work just as well with just white quinoa, which is what I had to hand.
The crackers are vegetarian friendly and so moreish. This week, I’ve given the crackers to at least a dozen different people and they all want more, more, more! I’ve actually bumped this post up the publication list as so many people have been clambering for the recipe. Enjoy these crackers as they are with a pre-dinner drink or perhaps with a soft goat’s cheese.
- 1/3 cup raw quinoa
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup plain flour (white or wholemeal)
- 1/2 cup polenta
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup natural yoghurt
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder or similar
- Place the quinoa in a strainer and wash several times with cold water. Place rinsed quinoa in a medium saucepan with 1 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Bring to the boil and then turn down to a gentle simmer for approximately 15 minutes. Stir a few times during cooking to prevent sticking to pan.
- Remove quinoa from heat, drain any excess water off, fluff with fork and set aside to cool.
- Place the flour, polenta, chilli, coriander, pepper, salt and garlic powder in a medium bowl and combine.
- Add cooled quinoa and stir to distribute evenly through flour mix.
- Add the oil and stir lightly with a fork.
- Add the yoghurt, stirring until it’s incorporated and the mixture comes together. Add more yoghurt or milk if necessary, 1 teaspoon at a time until a soft dough forms.
- Knead the dough for a few minutes and then allow to rest for a few minutes.
- Break off a fist sized piece of dough, roll into a rough ball and place on a silicone baking sheet or baking paper*
- Place a second piece of baking paper on top and roll out the dough very thinly (to around 1-2mm).
- Remove the top piece of paper and cut dough (a pizza cutter is ideal) into squares, rectangles or whatever biscuity shapes you desire.
- Transfer crackers still on bottom sheet, onto an oven tray. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Place trays in oven preheated to 165c and cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool on sheet. When crackers are cool, they should snap easily between your fingers and have no hint of moisture. If they are not completely dry, return to the oven for another minute or so.
- Store in airtight container. These make an interesting addition to a cheese board or are a nice gift for a dinner party or at Christmas.
- The first time I made this recipe, the mixture was very wet so I needed to add extra flour. Even then, it didn’t really form a ‘dough’ but I was still able to roll it out to make the crackers. Therefore, I’ve reduced the amount of liquid in the recipe I’ve provided above. You can always add a few extra teaspoons as I’ve suggested.
- From trial and error, I learned that a silicone baking sheet on the bottom is better. If you don’t have one, baking paper is fine but don’t roll the dough too thin or it will saturate the paper and make it difficult to transfer to the baking tray.
- As usual, I deviated from the recipe by adding cumin seed and what a winner that turned out to be. Next time I’ll be scattering nigella seeds over the top.
Make sure you visit the 2013 International Year of Quinoa site for more information about this multi purpose grain.