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What is Quinoa?

Heard of this new super food but unsure of exactly what it is or how to use it!  Fear not, read on for all you need to know about Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah).

Originating on the slopes of the Andes in Peru and Bolivia, this grain is a fantastic and more nutritious alternative to rice and couscous. Quinoa contains all of the essential amino acids thereby making it a complete protein. Gluten free, high fibre, full of nutrients, quick and easy to cook; what’s not to love.

What to buy:

Quinoa comes in three different varieties; white, red and black. White is the most widely available and takes the least amount of cooking time while black takes the longest with red somewhere in the middle.

How to cook:

Rinse the grain thoroughly then place in a saucepan and add water at the ratio of 1:2. For example, add two cups of water for one cup of Quinoa. Place the saucepan over heat without a lid until it comes to the boil. Then add the lid, reduce the heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes.

Works well with:

The amazing thing about this super grain is that it works perfectly with both Middle Eastern and Indian flavours such as paprika, coriander, cumin and cinnamon as well as Mediterranean flavours such as parsley, lemon and mint. You are only limited by your creativity.

A quick recipe to get you started:

Quinoa and Roast Vegetable Salad


½ medium Cauliflower, cut into florets

1kg of sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 3cm pieces

Spray Olive Oil

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

1 teaspoon of ground coriander

1/3 cup of slivered almonds

1 cup of Quinoa

200g feta, chopped

2 teaspoons of fresh rosemary, chopped

2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 ½ tablespoons of white wine vinegar

40g rocket


Preheat the oven to 200⁰C. Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Spread the sweet potato on one of the trays and spray with olive oil – bake for 45 minutes or until tender. Spread the cauliflower on the other tray, sprinkle with the ground spices and spray with olive oil – bake for 20 minutes or until soft and golden. Cool both trays.

Spread slivered almonds on a baking tray and bake for around 3 minutes or until golden. Set aside.

Add 2 cups of water to a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the Quinoa and simmer for around 12 minutes or until just tender. Drain and cool – fluff the grains using a fork.

Combine the roast vegetable, Quinoa, feta, rocket and rosemary in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Toss gently. Sprinkle with the almonds and serve

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