What in the world is Quinoa?

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Tonight I had a client request quinoa as a side dish.  After explaining to my husband that no matter how it was spelled, it is pronounced keen-wa, I thought maybe I would pass on some information on it to you.  Although quinoa is new the the American market, it was a staple of the ancient Incas, who called it “the mother grain.”  To this day it is an important food in South American cuisine.  Hailed as the “supergrain of the future,” quinoa contains more protien than any other grain.  It is 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 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 rice but can be used in any way rice is used-for a main dish, side dish, in soups, salad, and even desserts.  It is avaliable in the grains and rices aisle of the grocery store, in most major supermarkets.  Try this recipe for a new side dish at this weeks dinner table!

Pesto Quinoa

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained

2 cups chicken broth

2 TBSP basil pesto

1 tomato, diced

salt and pepper to taste

Bring the quinoa and chicken broth to a boil in a sauce[an; cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until the moisture is completely absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in pesto.  Fold in the tomato into the mixture. Season with salt and pepper and serve.  Makes 4 servings.

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