Quinoa has Peruvian origins and was named the "mother grain" by the ancient Incas. The grain (which is actually part of the same family as spinach) is high in protein and has a large nutrient-rich germ. Quinoa seeds are naturally coated in saponins, which have a bitter, soapy taste, so be sure to thoroughly rinse the grains before cooking them. Serve this simple but delicious dish alongside grilled chicken or enchiladas.
Bring a medium saucepan filled two-thirds full of water to a boil. Place the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse a few times. Add the quinoa to the saucepan, lower the heat and simmer until the grains are tender and the germ (which looks like a white tail) just shows inside each grain, about 12 minutes. Strain the quinoa and rinse under cold water. Drain again, then set aside to dry out well.
Meanwhile, combine the spinach, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno, oil and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
Combine the quinoa, the spinach mixture, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in the same saucepan the quinoa cooked in and set over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring, until warmed through, about 3 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the cheese. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon cheese. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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