Gluten-free quinoa (pronounced “KEEN’- wah,”) is similar to couscous but with some major differences. Though uncooked non-Israeli-type couscous and quinoa and look quite similar, couscous is fluffed with a fork after soaking in boiling water for a certain number of minutes. Quinoa, also fluffed with a fork, must simmer in its liquid for 15-20 minutes before fork-fluffing. It’s also different in appearance after cooking. “Little white tails” develop against the background of an off-white grain mixture. Tabbouleh is a very popular recipe for quinoa.
Red, as well as black quinoa, is also available. All colors of quinoa are eaten as cereal grasses. Ironically, it is related to beets, spinach and chard. Flavor of all colors is mildly nutty, texture is crunchy yet creamy. Rinsing quinoa in a fine-mesh screen colander removes any traces of a slightly bitter-tasting coating.
Typically, the U.S. is quite late in working quinoa into its diet. The highly-nutritious grass/grain is native to western South America and had the name of Incan rice, also “mother grain” as far back as 5,000 years ago. The greatest amount of quinoa is still grown in South America. Continue reading