Thursday, May 7, 2009

Crazy For Quinoa

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.

The ancient Incas believed quinoa to be sacred and called it "Mother of all grains". It contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source. 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.

We had friends over for dinner and I served the usual fare along with this Greek Quinoa Salad. It was a big, big hit!

Call me a hippie. I don't care.

Greek Quinoa And Avocado Salad


1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained*
1 cup water
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded fresh spinach
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion (1 small)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Spinach leaves
2 ripe avocados, halved, seeded, peeled, and sliced**
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. In a 1-1/2-quart saucepan combine quinoa and water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

2. Transfer quinoa to a medium bowl. Add tomato, spinach, and onion; stir to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, oil, and salt. Add to quinoa mixture; toss to coat.

3. Place spinach leaves on 4 salad plates. Arrange avocado slices on spinach leaves. Spoon quinoa mixture over avocado slices. Sprinkle with some of the feta. Makes 4 main-dish servings.

*Note: Rinse quinoa thoroughly before cooking to remove a bitter substance called saponin that coats the seeds.

**Note: Brush avocado slices with additional lemon juice to prevent browning.

Try may like it.


  1. I remember seeing this recipe before. If I wasn't so damn lazy, maybe I would make it. Or else I can just invite myself over next time you're serving it.

  2. I just bought some quinoa! But I'd rather make the Caribbean rice and beans for you. You're not allergic to Allspice, are you?