Kitchen Concoctions: Quinoa- An Ancient Crop with a Modern Recipe

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Quinoa- An Ancient Crop with a Modern Recipe

In my post the other day I mentioned quinoa and a recipe for a quinoa pilaf. Today I share that recipe with you and a little article that I wrote for Food on the Table about this incredibly healthy and easy to prepare grain. Enjoy!

It is so easy to get stuck in a rut and go to the standard starchy sides such as rice, pasta, and potatoes but why not change things up a bit. Want something that is nutritious, easy to prepare, and full of flavor all on its own? Well try quinoa! Pronounced keen-wa, quinoa is a nutritious, whole grain that has a fluffy, creamy, and slightly crunchy texture as well as a unique nutty flavor when cooked.

Quinoa is considered an ‘ancient’ crop since it has been grown and harvested for thousands of years. In fact, quinoa was once called "the gold of the Incas," who recognized its health benefits and the valuable increase in the strength and stamina it provided their warriors.

Quinoa is commonly considered a grain; however, it is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables such as Swiss chard and spinach. It is a colorful, flowering plant that grows at 12,000 feet above sea level and is native to South America. In areas where it is grown it is common for people to eat the leaves as well as the seeds.

Quinoa is gluten free and is full of vitamins and nutrients such as iron, phosphorus, folate, manganese, Vitamin B and zinc. Since quinoa is an excellent source of protein, providing all eight essential amino acids, it is a powerful food to add to any diet especially a vegetarian diet.

Because quinoa is easy to prepare, similar to the preparation and cooking of rice, it can be used in a variety of ways. From a delicious side dish, pilaf, or stuffing to mixing it in salads, soups, and stews quinoa is very versatile.

Next time you are in the rice isle at your local grocery store pick up some quinoa and try this Carrot, Tomato, and Spinach Quinoa Pilaf. This pilaf makes a great vegetarian entrée or a wonderful quick side dish on busy night!

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Carrot, Tomato, and Spinach Quinoa Pilaf
Printable Version
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Serves 2 as a entrée and 5 as a side dish

2 teaspoons olive oil
½ medium onion, chopped
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 teaspoons vegetable bouillon granules
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1 cup baby spinach

Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat; cook and stir the onion in the hot oil until translucent, about 3 minutes. Lower the heat, stir in quinoa, and toast, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Stir in the water, bouillon granules, black pepper and thyme.

Stir in the carrots. Cover and simmer until all water is absorbed, about 15 more minutes. Turn off the heat, add the tomatoes and spinach, and stir until the spinach is wilted and the tomatoes have given off their moisture, about 2 minutes.

adapted from Food on the Table


  1. This looks and sounds delicious and is a great addition to my files. I have only a few recipes for quinoa and need more. This is my first visit to your site and I've spent some time browsing through your earlier entries. I really like all the food and recipes I came across. I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  2. I love quinoa, but don't make it often enough. This recipe sounds great!

  3. aa-mazing!
    i just bought some quinoa and this looks like the perfect recipe to use it on.

  4. I'm so glad you returned my visit. I hope to see you often. Blessings...Mary


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