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Guess what this is…

I’ll give you one clue…

It’s not a leotard.

Okay, I’ll give you another clue…

Now guess?

Okay, okay, geez, one more clue!

Red quinoa!!!

If you’ve never heard of it before, you’re not alone. It’s been slowly rising to stardom recently but hasn’t reached full celebrity status yet. It’s a grain-like crop grown for its edible seeds. It’s considered a “pseudocereal,” whatever that means… not a true cereal, not a grain, since it’s not a grass. It’s related to species like beets, spinach and tumbleweeds.

It is 6,000 years old and began in the Andean region of South America. The reason it is on the rise here is because of its incredible nutritional value. Its protein content, for example, is 12%–18%, and it contains all of the essential amino acids that humans need. So basically a bowl of quinoa is a complete protein source. It also happens to be high in dietary fiber, phosphorus, magnesium and iron, it’s gluten-free and easy to digest.

And because of all this… guess what… NASA has considered it for long-term manned flights into space. Ha.

But for those of us who are staying on earth for now, this is a simple delicious way to make it. And it’s probably tastier than the version they eat in outer space. I’m just sayin’.

These are some of the things you will need. Pretty simple… lemon juice, scallions, grape tomatoes, cucumber… you can get creative here, don’t let me stop you with my boring ways.

Slice your scallions nicely while you cook the quinoa. You use a ratio of about 2:1, water to quinoa. I used chicken stock for more flavor so if you have some go for it. Let it simmer gently so that the liquid evaporates slowly while the quinoa softens and expands. Make sure you add salt to the water or stock.

It will be soft but still have a bit of crunch when you bite. And a little liquid leftover is a good thing to keep things moist.

Close up you’ll see little white spirals have begun to detach from the seed.

Those are technical terms by the way.

Then you toss in all of your ingredients. Whatever you’ve conjured up from your fridge.

Add lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, and keep tasting, adjusting.

In the end you will have a light, fluffy quinoa, with a mild nutty flavor that makes a healthier alternative to white rice or couscous.

“Red Quinoa Salad”

Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Servings: 8 servings


  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 4 cups chicken stock or water
  • 1 bunch of scallions sliced thin
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
  • 1 cucumber peeled and diced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Cook the quinoa in the chicken stock or water for about 20 minutes on a low simmer until tender but still a bit crunchy to the bite. Transfer to a bowl and let cool for 10 minutes.
  • Add all of the remaining ingredients, adjusting the salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil to taste.


  • Grandma
    Posted June 2, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    So glad you're promoting this wonderful food. I also like the pasta… shells spaghetti,elbows. I Use it for making "mac"and cheese without feeing guilty.

  • Georgia
    Posted June 2, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    I didn't know they made pasta out of quinoa… how interesting!

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