quinoa

Pronunciation: [KEEN-wah]

Although quinoa is new to the American market, it was a staple of the ancient Incas, who called it "the mother grain." To this day it's an important food in South American cuisine. Hailed as the "supergrain of the future," quinoa contains more protein than any other grain. It's considered a complete protein because it contains all eight essential amino acids. Quinoa is also higher in unsaturated fats and lower in carbohydrates than most grains, and it provides a rich and balanced source of vital nutrients. Tiny and bead-shaped, the ivory-colored quinoa cooks like rice (taking half the time of regular rice) and expands to four times its original volume. Its flavor is delicate, almost bland, and has been compared to that of couscous. Quinoa is lighter than but can be used in any way suitable for rice -- as part of a main dish, a side dish, in soups, in salads and even in puddings. It's available packaged as a grain, ground into flour and in several forms of pasta. Quinoa can be found in natural food stores and some supermarkets.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Quinoa, 5 Ways

If you’re looking for some new, creative quinoa recipes—we’ve got 5 you’ll love!

Curried Quinoa Salad

Quinoa is not only packed with nutrients, it's easy-to-prepare. Make a curried quinoa salad for dinner (as a side dish or light main) and enjoy the leftovers for lunch.

Spotlight Recipe: Giada's Herbed Quinoa

If you've never cooked quinoa before, Giada DeLaurentiis' Herbed Quinoa is a good basic recipe to start with.

Honey-Strawberry Quinoa Salad

Ready to serve up a new, fun summer salad for your Labor Day picnic or BBQ? You can easily combine seasonal fruits and vegetables into any grain-based salad, like this Honey Strawberry Quinoa Salad.

Quinoa-Stuffed Poblano Peppers

This easy dish comes together in under an hour and makes use of poblano peppers, flax seeds, corn, quinoa, chickpeas and marjoram.

Lentil Quinoa Salad — Meatless Monday

Try Food Network's Magazine's Quinoa and Bean Pilaf for a protein-packed vegetarian meal on Meatless Monday.

Katie's Healthy Bites: Cooking with Quinoa

Dubbed “the gold of the Incas,” quinoa seed is treasured because of it's nutritive value. It has more protein than any other grain or seed and offers a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids our bodies can't make on their own.