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what you need to know

Root Source: Quinoa

what you should know


Are we less inclined to warm up to foods we're not sure how to pronounce? That's the only reason we can think of to explain why quinoa ("KEEN-wah") has yet to take off in the U.S.


A "pseudo cereal" native to the Andes, quinoa is mild and slightly nutty, with a beautiful, pillowy texture that's a little like couscous. It's a farmer-friendly crop that grows easily in many different climates and at high altitudes. It's simple to process and prepare. It's gluten-free. It's easy to digest.


Quinoa has all the goods that grains and seeds are supposed to have (dietary fiber and so on). The real kicker though? Quinoa has the highest protein levels (up to 20%) of all the cereals -- pseudo or otherwise.


the case for quinoa This nutritional profile has led normally sober people to rhapsodize about the promise of quinoa. (Its potential as a hangover remedy was the subject of our first blog post.)


saponin warning Raw, quinoa is coated in a toxic, bitter substance called saponin. Almost all commercially available quinoa has been de-saponinized. Still, go ahead and rinse your quinoa a couple of times before you use it.



what you need


Rebecca Wood loves quinoa so much that she wrote a whole book about it. If Wood's Quinoa the Supergrain is too narrow a study for you, pick up her award-winning The Splendid Grain, one of the very best single-subject cookbooks out there. (Wood has recipes and tips at her website.)


Five years ago, Corby Kummer wrote in the Atlantic (sub. req'd) about a company called Inca Organics. The company works with thousands of quinoa farmers in Ecuador to supply worldwide food distributors. IO has a list of online retailers. Brys buys his quinoa from White Mountain Farm, one of the first large-scale quinoa operations in the U.S.



what you do


As with rice and pasta, it's next to impossible to make just the right amount of quinoa. We like to use leftover quinoa in burritos, stir-fries, salads and really anything that could use some texture. But leftover quinoa also shines as a breakfast grain. Try this quinoa with dried cranberries, toasted walnuts and honey.


Once you try quinoa in the place of pasta for this ham, cabbage and sage dish that Brys assembled out of the ether one day, you may never go back.


If you're a newcomer to quinoa, start with the basic preparation and go from there. One of Chip's favorite afternoon snacks is simply steamed quinoa mixed with sour cream and hot sauce.

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