Native Andean populations have cultivated the quinoa grain (quinua or quínoa in Spanish) for thousands of years. The Incans ate quinoa to supplement their diet of corn and potatoes. Quinoa thrives at high altitude, making it well-suited for the famous terraced fields found in ancient South American cities such as Machu Picchu. Quinoa is also rich in iron, important for people living in high-altitude, oxygen-poor areas like the Andes.
And unlike wheat, quinoa is gluten-free, making it easier to digest for many people.
European immigrants to South America were slow to incorporate quinoa into their cuisine, and it has only recently been ‘rediscovered.’ It now appears on the menus of the most upscale restaurants in South America, and chefs are creating new ways to incorporate quinoa into modern recipes.
How to Use Quinoa
Quinoa is delicious, with a nutty flavor that complements many other ingredients. Quinoa can be cooked like rice and adds wonderful texture to soups and salads. It makes a crunchy breading for fried chicken or fish. In South America, it is commonly popped and sold as a nutritious cereal. The puffed cereal version is delicious in cookies and other baked goods. Breads made from quinoa flour are also becoming popular, both for their gluten-free properties and high protein content. You can even find pasta made with quinoa flour.
Where to Find Quinoa
Health food stores are the most reliable places to find quinoa but it is becoming more common to see it at regular grocery stores. It is often found with the rice and couscous, in the cereal or bulk foods sections, or in the Latin specialty foods section.
How to Cook Quinoa
Prepare quinoa as you would prepare rice: simmered in water until it is softened and chewy and the water is absorbed.
(The traditional ratio is 2 parts liquid to 1 part quinoa). The water can be flavored with chicken broth or other seasonings. There are even sweetened versions of cooked quinoa, similar to rice pudding. Quinoa seeds require rinsing to remove the bitter coating that protects them from being eaten by birds. Most quinoa sold today has been pre-rinsed, but it is still a good idea to rinse the uncooked grains in water while rubbing them between your fingers for a minute or two, until the water runs clear.
- Honey Quinoa Bread
- Quinoa Dinner Rolls
- Quinoa Oatmeal Power Cookies
- Quinoa Bagels
- Quinoa Oatmeal Granola Bars
- Quinoa Corn Muffins
- Bread Machine Quinoa Oatmeal Bread
- Crispy Quinoa Chicken Tenders
- Steak and Quinoa Salad with Mango Salsa
- Quinoa Sushi
- Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash - Calabaza Bellota con Quinoa
- Quinoa Croquettes with Ham and Parmesan Cheese
- Quinoa Sausage Casserole - Pastel de Quinoa
- Lowfat Quinoa Cookies with Golden Raisins and Dried Pineapple
- Quinoa Apple Spice Muffins
- Quinoa and Cranberry Pilaf
- QUinoaQuinoalack Bean Salad
- Quinoa with Multi-colored Peppers and Goat Cheese