Quinoa – rock star of grains

I bow. In honor. Of. Quinoa.

I’ve offered praise and adoration forever for this amazing seed, most often considered a grain, called quinoa (KEEN-wah). High in protein, fiber, calcium, and nutty flavor, gluten-free quinoa stars as a main dish especially for vegetarians, yogins, and body builders, three groups on the dietary protein trail. At the end of this Indian summer, the last tomatoes dangle from the vine nestled amidst the parsley, now going to seed, two ingredients that bring vitality to this dish.

My vegan friend, Reed Mangels, dietitian and nutrition advisor of the Vegetarian Resource Group, says, “A cup of cooked quinoa has more protein than a glass of milk and more iron than a half-pound steak.”

Notes: Quinoa is naturally coated with saponins, a soapy substance, that needs to be rinsed or you’ll taste bitterness in the final dish. This recipe calls for 2 tsp salt – limit to 0-1 tsp if you’re prone to high blood pressure.

Bolivia quinoa with tomatoes and chives

Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Servings: 6

2 cups quinoa, rinsed, drained
4 cups water
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 cup each, chopped: fresh chives, fresh spearmint
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons each: sea salt, ground cumin
Freshly ground pepper

1. Heat the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan; Cover; turn the heat to low. Cook until all water is absorbed and the curly germ appears on the surface of each seed, about 20 minutes. Allow to rest, covered, until cooked through, at least 5 minutes.

2. Put the quinoa into a bowl; mix in the chopped vegetables and herbs. Whisk the oil and lemon juice with the salt, cumin and pepper to taste; stir into the quinoa.

3. Serve warm, cold or room temperature.

Nutrition Information:
Per serving: 345 calories, 13 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 49 g carbohydrates, 10 g protein, 799 mg sodium, 7 g fiber.

For variation, try white, red and black quinoa varieties.

Recipe by Kay Stepkin, a vegetarian cooking class instructor and former owner of a vegetarian restaurant/whole-grain bakery. 

Less cow, more veg
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