It’s perfect for the gluten-sensitive, friendly to dieters, and packed with protein, magnesium and iron. It’s quinoa, of course.
Although it’s never reached the popularity of rice, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) has an earthy and mildly sweet taste and is just as versatile. Plus it cooks in less than 15 minutes.
Indigenous to South America, quinoa is the seed of a plant in the spinach family and was held in a position of honor in the Incan diet. While invading Spaniards dismissed it as too primitive for their tastes, the Incas regarded it as sacred and called it chisaya mama, or “mother of all grains.” Until recently, quinoa was consumed mainly by health food nuts, but now chefs across the country are using it as a substitute for rice and other grains in side dishes, salads and stuffings. Rinse quinoa first to remove its slightly bitter coating (commercial quinoa is usually pre-rinsed), then cook it exactly like rice, in broth or water. And use in any dish that uses rice.
— By Martin Booe, a writer in Los Angeles.
Learn more about cooking with quinoa from Relish Cooking Show Chef Brian Morris.