Quinoa is an annual herb that has been
cultivated for thousands of years in the west Andes Mountains of South America.
It was a staple food of the ancient Inca Indians and their Empire. Quinoa was
such an important food of the ancient Incas that they considered it the
Quinoa is a plant that is very hardy and
drought resistant. It bears clusters of seed on top of the plant that can range
in color from white, orange, red, purple, to black, depending on the variety.
The ancestral seed color of Quinoa is black and the other colors have been
obtained from mutations and breeding. The Quinoa seed, about the size of
millet, resembles the grain of some cereal grasses, but it is not a grass.
The seeds are coated with a saponin which has
a bitter taste. This bitterness is removed by washing in water or by a dry
polishing process. Before consumption of Quinoa the seeds should be rinsed to
remove any of the saponin dust that may remain on the seeds.
The seed of Quinoa is an excellent food, rich
in protein and high in fiber. The protein is well balanced and is particularly
rich in the amino acid lysine, which is difficult to obtain from other
vegetable sources. It is also high in calcium, phosphorous, vitamins B and E.
Quinoa is a very versatile food plant that
can be cooked many ways and tastes excellent. The green leaves can be used in
salads or cooked like spinach. The grain can be sprouted, like alfalfa; used as
a hot cereal; used in soups, casseroles and souffles; used in the place of
almost any other grain, including rice; ground into flour; and toasted. An
imaginative chef can find many more uses and ways to prepare Quinoa than those
given above. Dishes ranging from appetizers through desserts can be prepared
In 1982 Dave Cusack was one of the first to
introduce Quinoa to North America. With the help of Colorado State University,
Sierra Blanca Associates, and a few hard working individuals Quinoa is now
available to the public at most health food stores. Certified Organic Quinoa
that is grown in the high elevations of the San Luis Valley of Colorado, has a
rich delicate nutty taste that cooks quickly and easily.
Instructions: Before cooking, always rinse the grain well, either by using a strainer or by running fresh water over the Quinoa in a pot. Drain the excess water.
QUINOA (Basic Recipe)
2 cups water
1 cup Quinoa
Rinse Quinoa thoroughly, either by
using a strainer or by running fresh water over the Quinoa in a pot. Drain
excess water. Place Quinoa and water in a 1 ½ quart sauce pan and bring to a
boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all of the water is absorbed
(about 15 minutes). You will know that the Quinoa is done when all the grains
have turned from white to transparent, and the spiral-like germ has separated.
Makes 3 cups.