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Quinoa (pronounced keen wah) seems to have become the “hot” new grain over the past two or three years.  It has actually been cultivated in the Andes areas for thousands of years.  The Incas considered it to be sacred.  With the Spanish Conquest, however, it was used as animal feed and eventually almost went out of production when grains such as wheat and barley became widely cultivated and used in cereals.

Quinoa is not a grain at all but rather the grain-like seed of a plant in the goosefoot family which includes more familiar greens such as spinach and chard.  It is the only plant food that contains all the essential amino acids, trace elements and vitamins but does not contain gluten.

I have used quinoa for a long time.  After first reading about it, I had to order it online because no store in Central Arkansas carried.  Most had never heard of it.  It is readily available now which is both a boon and a beast.  In a short period of time, quinoa has gone from a local staple to a global commodity which has created the current controversy surrounding its production.  You can follow that discussion in The Market Report.
I use quinoa in the place of barley when making tabbouleh and find that it works quite well.  You might also like:  Quinoa with Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans and Taramahoota Pollo Sopa with Quinoa.
Do you  have some quinoa favorites that you would be willing to share?  I would love to give them a try.
Quinoa Tabbouleh

6 servings
1 cup (preferably red) quinoa, rinsed well
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (or more) extra-virgin olive oil (I prefer the lesser amount.)
1 cup (or more) diced English or Persian cucumber (I like to use the baby cucumbers.)
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup diced red and yellow bell pepper
2/3 cup minced fresh Italian parsley
1/2 cup minced fresh mint
2 green onions, thinly sliced (optional)

Bring quinoa, salt, 1 1/4 cups water to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium low and cover.  Simmer until the quinoa is tender, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for five minutes.  Fluff with a fork. 
I like to spread the quinoa out on a large cookie sheet and let it cool completely.  It will also dry somewhat which is fine.
You can prepare the quinoa the night before if you prefer.
Whisk the lemon juice, garlic and olive oil together while the quinoa is cooking and let stand.
In a large bowl, stir the quinoa and the dressing together.  Sprinkle with the freshly ground black pepper.
Stir in the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Check for seasoning.  Chill thoroughly.  Stir before serving.

The tabbouleh will keep several days in the refrigerator.  It makes a super light lunch especially during spring and summer.

Spring is coming, isn’t it?