The ancient Incans revered quinoa as "the mother grain." Modern-day nutritionists often refer to it as "the supergrain of the future." Pronounced "KEEN-wah," quinoa sounds like a close cousin of the kumquat. But the light, fluffy and vaguely crunchy seed actually resembles couscous in size, texture and funny-sounding name.
Far more nutritious than couscous, quinoa contains nine essential amino acids that make up a complete protein. It has more calcium than milk. It's also a very good source of manganese and a good source of vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorous, iron and copper. A ¼-cup serving packs 6.5 grams of dietary fiber.
This quinoa vegetable salad is a delicious way to introduce this high-energy grain into your family's diet. The spinach, tomatoes, carrot and peas add plenty of sound nutrition as well as a pleasingly colorful backdrop for the rather dull, gray-brown color of cooked quinoa.
As versatile as rice, quinoa takes just 15 minutes to cook and is a gluten-free food. Although it has been available commercially in this country only since the '80s, it has quickly become a staple of health food stores. Quinoa is increasingly available in supermarkets.
Quinoa should be carefully rinsed five to 10 seconds in a fine mesh strainer to remove the natural but bitter resin-like coating. While today's processing methods remove most of the coating, an additional rinse will ensure all the powdery residue is removed.
Store uncooked quinoa in an airtight container.