Discovering quinoa

Replace that rice and couscous, give quinoa a try.

September 21, 2010 13:11
2 minute read.
Bowl of quinoa

Quinoa. (photo credit:


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Once a staple food of the ancient Incas, quinoa, a highly nutritious grain native to South America, is finding its way onto American tables with increasing frequency.

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Because it contains eight essential amino acids, quinoa is considered to be a complete protein. It's also lower in carbohydrates than most other grains, gluten-free and a good source iron and fiber.

Quinoa is a firm textured grain with a subtle nutty flavor that cooks up fluffy and light.

It can be used in place of rice or couscous in many recipes and it's quick and easy to prepare.

Basic Quinoa Preparation (4 servings)
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water (or other liquid)

The first step is to thoroughly rinse the quinoa with cold water in a fine mesh strainer. This removes a somewhat bitter, soap-like coating of a naturally occurring substance called saponin. Saponin is thought to be quinoa's natural protection against insects, birds and fungus and most of it is removed during processing, but rinsing is still a good idea for best results.

Place the quinoa and water in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until all the water is absorbed, about 12 minutes. Quinoa turns translucent when fully cooked. Fluff with a fork, add seasonings or combine with other ingredients as you would rice or couscous. Yield ~ 3 cups.

Here's a recipe for a quick side that we serve with our Spice Breaded Chicken Tenderloins, but it would make a great accompaniment for just about any grilled, roasted or pan-seared meat.

Easy Quinoa and Scallions
Ingredients ~
1 cup quinoa
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation ~
Rinse the quinoa thoroughly, using a fine-mesh strainer. Set aside to drain.

Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a saucepan. Add the garlic and sauté just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the quinoa and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the quinoa is tender and most of the broth has been absorbed, about 12 minutes. Stir in the butter and sliced scallions and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 3 minutes. Serve.

Makes 4 servings

For more great quinoa recipies, go to:

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