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Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is no longer considered the superfood of the future, it is the superfood of today, especially during Passover!  

Quinoa, which is grown high in the Andes Mountains in South America, looks and acts just like a grain. However, it is more closely related to beets and spinach, than to wheat, rice or barley.  Quinoa was first introduced to the US in the 1980's, but it was only deemed kosher for Passover in 1999, when Rabbi Moshe Heineman (Star-K) discovered that it is neither chametz nor kitniyot. Star-K tested it to see if it would rise and found that it decayed instead. It also does not grow in the vicinity of chametz and its growth does not resemble kitniyot.

Concerns have been raised about whether quinoa may come into contact with kitniyot or chametz during the packaging process. However, there are many brands of whole grain quinoa that are certified kosher for Passover each year.  However, please consult your Rabbi before using quinoa on Passover.

Quinoa is extremely nutritious.  It is one of the few non-meat foods that is a complete protein, providing your body with all of the essential amino acids – fulfilling an important nutritional need for vegetarians.   Quinoa is also low in sugar and high in fiber.

Quinoa has a nutty or grassy flavor that some might find a little bitter. This is the result of bitter compounds called saponins that cover the seeds. These are removed through soaking in water. Commercially-available quinoa comes pre-soaked to remove the saponins. Otherwise, quinoa is pretty neutral. It takes on flavors well. It's delicious as pilaf with dried fruit and nuts. The sweetness of the fruit really rounded out the flavor.

Quinoa is not quite as fluffy as rice and it has a little more resistance when you chew it. In a lot of ways it is like brown rice but the size of the cooked seeds is smaller than a brown rice kernel.

Quinoa can be used in most recipes the very same way as couscous or bulgur. When using quinoa, make sure to rinse it first or it will taste bitter when cooked.  It is very versatile and can be used in many ways, from a nourishing hot breakfast cereal to a side dish that is a perfect accompaniment to poultry.

Ffollow the package instructions for best results, but essentially quinoa has the same 2 to 1, water to "grain" formula as rice. Quinoa also cooks in about the same time. 

Here are a few recipes to help get you started experimenting with this superfood and please share your favorite quinoa recipes with us!

You can also use quinoa as a flour to make glutne free and Passover pasta. 

Quinoa Fettucine