Quinoa Becoming a Popular Food

As more and more people embrace a diet that’s high in protein, quinoa, a grain-like crop that traces its origins to the Andes, is growing in popularity. Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it contains all of the nine amino acids that are needed to support basic bodily function in the human body.

While many health food and exercise afficionados are aware of quinoa’s nutritional benefits, they might not know that quinoa traces its roots as an edible food back several thousand years to the Andean region of Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru. The Incas believed quinoa was sacred, but those beliefs were eventually questioned by the conquering Spaniards, who suppressed its cultivation and forced the Incas to grow wheat instead.

Quinoa’s endurance is something Hispanics can be proud of, and, thanks to its nutritional value, it’s also something many people might want to share with family and friends. Those who want to celebrate their Hispanic heritage with a delicious and nutritional meal might want to consider the following recipe for “Saffron Quinoa con Pollo” from Robin Asbell’s “The New Whole Grains Cookbook.”

Saffron Quinoa con Pollo (Serves 4 to 6)

1/2 lemon

6 whole artichokes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch chunks

1 teaspoon salt, divided

1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, divided

1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup frozen peas or edamame, thawed

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

13/4 cups chicken stock

Fill a large bowl halfway with cool water, and squeeze in a tablespoon of lemon juice. Pull off the leaves of each artichoke, and discard. Pare out the hairy choke, trim around the artichoke bottom, and peel the stem, leaving only edible flesh. Cut each in half vertically, submerge in the lemon water, and reserve.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a large, heavy brazier or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and drop in the chicken chunks, then season with a bit of the salt and pepper. Let cook, undisturbed, for 2 minutes before stirring, to get a good sear. Turn the chicken and cook until both sides are browned. Drain the artichoke bottoms, pat dry and add to the pot. Add the onion, garlic, tomato paste, bell pepper, peas, saffron, remaining salt and pepper, and quinoa, and stir to coat. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, to soften the vegetables. Add the stock and bring to a boil, covered.

Put the pot in the hot oven, and bake for 45 minutes, then check to see if the quinoa is done. If the quinoa is tender but there is still liquid in the pot, uncover and bake for another 5 minutes. TF129430