Botanical Name: Chenopodium quinoa

Description: Quinoa, pronounced keen-wah, is not a true cereal grain, but rather the botanical fruit of an herb plant. It is treated as a grain in cooking. The grains are small yellow flattened spheres, approximately 1.5 to 2 mm in diameter. When cooked, the germ coils into a small "tail" that lends a pleasant crunch. The leaves of the quinoa plant can also be eaten.

Purchasing: Quinoa has grown in popularity in the past few years and is carried in many well-stocked groceries as well as health food stores. There are several varieties of quinoa which range in color from dark brown to near white. The larger whiter varieties are most common and are considered superior. Quinoa should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer if storage beyond a month is desired.

Basic Cooking Instructions: Because some of the bitter saponin covering on the grain can still be present even though most quinoa is washed before being sold, you should thoroughly rinse the dry grain until the water runs clear. Combine 1/2 cup quinoa with 1 cup water and simmer for 15 minutes or until tender. For a nuttier taste, toast the quinoa in a hot dry pan for about 5 minutes before cooking.


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Contributed by: Michelle Dick