(noun) Native to Peru, quinoa is an ancient seed that was revered by Incas. It is easy and quick to prepare – just boil for about 15 minutes. You can tell that it’s done when most of the germs (tiny white spirals) have separated from the grains.
Quinoa can take the place of rice, couscous, and other grains in just about any dish. It’s a complete protein and contains a good amount of calcium. It comes in a variety of colors, from beige to red to black, and is closely related to spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and beets.
To rinse or not to rinse
Most recipes say that you have to rinse quinoa thoroughly before using it in order to remove a bitter coating of a natural insect repellant called saponin. Not only is this rinsing a hassle (the grains are so tiny that you need to use a very fine sieve, and they still get stuck), but I have found, at least with the quinoa that I buy, that it is entirely unnecessary. The water doesn’t get cloudy or change color as one would expect when rinsing something off, and I notice absolutely no difference in taste either way. So I stopped doing it. If you notice a difference when rinsing quinoa, then by all means keep doing it.
Vegetarian Glossary Index