Perusing the grain section at your local health store, you come across a product labeled Quinoa. KEE-no? Quin-O-a? Keen-o-A? How do you pronounce this curious grain-like food?

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) is an ancient edible seed that dates back thousands of years to the Incas, who cultivated it in the Andean region of South America. This “mother of all grains” was like gold to the Incas, and they used it to worship in religious ceremonies and to strengthen their warriors. However, the conquistadores later banned its cultivation, and it nearly became extinct.

Fortunately, quinoa was rediscovered in the late 1900s and has recently begun to go international. In an increasingly health-conscious world, people are drawn to this Incan gold because it’s chock-full of protein and fiber and is also gluten-free. Let your taste buds revel in these mouthwatering quinoa recipes from Bolivia, the United States, Italy, and Peru.

—Jessica Scott


Pastel de Quinoa: Boliva

Pastel de Quinoa. Photo by Alyssa Miller


1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
2 cups fresh Hispanic-style cheese, crumbled
1 pound ground beef
2 small onions, diced
1 ½ tablespoons ground chili pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
2 peeled tomatoes, diced


  1. Combine quinoa and water in a pot and simmer on medium-low for 20–25 minutes or until soft.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, brown meat in a saucepan with diced onion, ground chili pepper, garlic, and salt.
  3. Add tomatoes and let simmer 5–10 minutes.
  4. When the quinoa is finished cooking, mix ½ cup of crumbled cheese into the cooked grain.
  5. Spread half of the quinoa over the bottom of an 8×8-inch dish or 8-inch pie pan.
  6. Sprinkle some cheese over the quinoa layer, and then spread the meat filling on top.
  7. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the filling and spread the rest of the quinoa over the top. Serve hot.

Yield: 6–8 servings
Ready in 30 minutes


Quinoa Salad: USA

Quinoa Salad. Photo by Monica Lunardelli


1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 small cucumber, chopped
½ cup radishes, chopped
¼ cup carrots, grated
1 bunch scallions, chopped
2 cups grape tomatoes, sliced in half
5 tablespoons olive oil
½ lemon, juiced
Salt to taste


  1. Cook quinoa and water in a pot on medium heat 20–25 minutes or until soft.
  2. Toss cooked quinoa with cucumbers, radishes, carrots, scallions, and tomatoes in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk together olive oil, juice from lemon, and salt in a separate bowl.
  4. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.
  5. Refrigerate the salad for an hour before serving.

Yield: 4–5 servings
Ready in 1 ½ hours

Creamy Quinoa Primavera: Italy

Creamy Quinoa Primavera. Photo by Monica Lunardelli


1 cup uncooked quinoa
1½ cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 cups thinly sliced uncooked vegetables (consider using carrots, squash,  zucchini, onions, or mushrooms)
4 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated


  1. Cook quinoa and broth in a pot on medium heat 20–25 minutes or until soft.  
  2. While quinoa is cooking, melt butter in large skillet.
  3. Cook garlic in butter for about one minute, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the vegetables and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until vegetables are brightly colored and starting to soften.
  5. Stir cream cheese and basil into cooked quinoa.
  6. Toss with vegetables and sprinkle with Parmesan before serving.

Yield: 5–6 servings
Ready in 45 minutes

Quinoa con Naranja: Peru

Quinoa con Naranja. Photo by Alyssa Miller


½ cup quinoa
5 oranges, juiced
½ cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
2 teaspoons corn starch


  1. Soak quinoa in water for 2 hours, then drain.
  2. In a pot, mix the quinoa with juice from oranges and add sugar.
  3. Boil mixture with cinnamon stick and cloves for 15–20 minutes, or until soft.
  4. Mix cornstarch with about one tablespoon of water and then add dissolved cornstarch to quinoa while it is boiling. Serve chilled.

Yield: 3–4 servings
Ready in 2 ½ hours