5.26.2010

A Quinoa Salad

Before we talk recipes, let's get down to some quinoa basics. It's pronounced keen-wa and I've been seeing it all over the food blog world. But this is the first time I've ever made anything with it.  It's referred to as a grain, but technically it's not. It's actually a seed of the Chenopodium or Goosefoot plant. It's used as a grain and substituted for grains because it cooks like a grain. The plant grows from 4 to 6 feet high and the flower heads are branched and when in seed have large clusters of seeds at the end of a stalk.


Beets, spinach and Swiss chard are all relatives of quinoa. I was surprised to see how small the seeds are, not much bigger than the head of a pin.


I like to know a little history about anything new, don't you? If you'd rather not, skip the next few paragraphs.......

Quinoa has been cultivated in in the lush Andes mountains of South America since at least 3,000 B.C. and has been a staple food of millions of native inhabitants. It was known by the ancient Incas as the mother grain and was revered as sacred. Quinoa was so sacred for the Incans they broke the ground with a golden tipped shovel at its first planting to show respect. This grain was also part of their religious ceremonies.

In 1532, Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish explorer, reached the Andes with a small army and in one year's time destroyed the quinoa fields, killed the god-king Atahualpa, and forced the Inca culture into submission.


                                                                                                        Francisco Pizarro

Under Pizarro's rule they were forbidden to practice any ceremonial rituals that centered on quinoa. Fortunately, quinoa still grew wild in the higher altitudes where it could be hidden from the Spaniards. Small amounts were consumed in secret. Still, the culture of the Incas had been changed forever. For centuries quinoa fell into obscurity until the revival of interest in the 1980's.

At this point quinoa made its way north of the Equator to the United States and Canada and has grown in popularity since then. T
wo entrepreneurs from Colorado learned of this seed/grain from a Bolivian. They developed test plots in the central Rockies and began test marketing in 1985. However, most quinoa sold in the United States is imported from South America and it can be found in most natural food stores in the U.S. Many countries have now begun to recognize the importance quinoa could play in providing a healthy and sustainable food source for centuries to come. It's been referred to as the "Supergrain of the Future."


The quinoa seed contains an almost perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids needed for tissue development in humans, contains more protein than any other grain, some varities more than 20%! The seeds are also gluten-free, light, tasty, easy to digest and a rich and balanced source of other nutrients. It's still not a common item in our pantries, but if the food blogs are any indication, it soon will be. You can also use quinoa flour to make pasta and a variety of baked goods like pancakes, bread, muffins, and crackers.

When I'm looking for information about healthy eating and grains, I always turn to Heidi at 101 Cookbooks. Don't we all? So I searched her site for quinoa recipes and look what I found:  Big Delicious Bowl; Lemon-scented Quinoa Salad; Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa; and Quinoa and Grilled Zucchini. She's obviously sold on quinoa! 

When you're ready to start cooking with quinoa, be sure to rinse the seeds to remove their bitter resin-like coating, which is called saponin. Quinoa is rinsed before it is packaged and sold, but it's best to rinse again before using. I just put quinoa in a strainer and rinsed it well with cold water, swishing it around. The seeds cook in only 15 minutes. I found quinoa to have a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and a somewhat nutty flavor when cooked.



Due to the relatively high oil and fat content of quinoa, the grains and flour should be stored in glass jars in the refrigerator. Use the grains within a year and flour within 3 months.

Now, on to my recipe. It's a quinoa salad, which looked so pretty in the photo (and had bacon on top...while not exactly healthy, certainly pushed me over the edge.  LOL. Don't worry, it's optional.) that I just had to try it. It's quite similar to a pasta salad I make which is what attracted me I suppose. I found this gem of a recipe in Florida Table Magazine, which I love and have blogged about before. BTW: this particular issue features Florida's Top Chefs, one of which, Michael Schwartz, chef/owner of Michael's Genuine in Miami, is a favorite of mine and has just won the James Beard award for Best Chef, South!  Well deserved I might add.  And his pastry chef, Hedy Goldsmith, was a semi-finalist! It's a "don't miss" restaurant if you're ever down Miami way. And you really should subscribe to this quarterly magazine, people. It's a gem.


Anyway, if you've been debating about trying quinoa, this is a great way to start.


Quinoa with Black Beans, Corn, Tomatoes and Basil

Adapted from Florida Table Magazine, Summer 2010 Isssue


Ingredients for salad:
1 cup quinoa
4 ears fresh corn, roasted and kernels cut from cob
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
3 scallions, finely sliced (my addition)

Ingredients for dressing:
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup washed and dried basil leaves (I made a chiffonade with them)
1/4 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste
Bacon crumbles (optional)
Fresh basil for garnish

Method:

Soak quinoa in water, covered, for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse well with cold water. Put into a stockpot with 1-1/3 cups water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork and allow to cool.

Roast corn and cut the kernels off. (I drizzled some olive oil on the corn and roasted it, turning once in a while, in a 400° oven for about 20 minutes or until it turned golden. It would be delicious done on a grill.)
 


Toss the quinoa with the corn, black beans and tomatoes. Make the dressing by blending the olive oil, vinegar, basil and cumin together. Season to taste.Dress the salad with about half the dressing (more if you like) and garnish with basil leaves and crumbled bacon. Keep chilled, but remove from fridge about 30 minutes before serving.
Serves 4.


73 comments:

  1. Although I've had quinoa numerous times I've never prepared it at home. Your salad looks delicious, Barbara, and I've printed out the recipe so I can remedy that. I think this will be perfect with bbq this summer.

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  2. This looks delicious Barbara. I have never tried quinoa, but it is very trendy to eat it here in England, I must give it a whirl. Hope you're well. Love Lucie x

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  3. Hmmm... ANYTHING with corn, tomatoes and black beans gets my attention.

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  4. I love quinoa and will certainly add this to my recipes. I will also check into the quarterly magazine.

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  5. Wow a history lesson with such a beautiful recipe. This looks great Barbara thanks.

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  6. I've been wanting to try this grain - seed - thank you for the interesting background!

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  7. Actually yes, I've seen this on tv and other blogs many times but was not tempted to use it until you posted about it. Might have something to do with the "high fat and oil content" part LOL, seriously, i thought it sounded way to healthy and horrid to be good. I think I've changed my mind.
    *kisses* HH

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  8. That is one healthy dish. N very pretty too. n what a history lesson...good research. :))

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  9. I love quinoa. For all the reasons you stated and more. I have a recipe similar to this on my blog as well. My friend just made it and sent all her friends the recipe. So you're right, slowly but surely, the message of quinoa is getting out there and people are starting to appreciate it! Thanks!

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  10. Hey Barbara, I read this whole post. You did such a great job with the history. I couldn't stop reading. I knew most of it, but it was nice to reinforce it in my brain and you laid it out so I could do so without losing interest.
    I love quinoa by the way, and yours looks wicked awesome as they say Boston (smile)!
    p.s. Pizarro was a bad man! Your'e right...

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  11. What an interesting history to quinoa. I would have never thought anything so dramatic was attached to this but I love learning something new, so thank you for taking the time to post its history.
    I love the black beans and corn in this recipe and can just imagine how delicious this would have been. A delicious and healthy meal. Love it!

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  12. We've been on a quinoa kick lately. I'm on the look out for new recipes, but I guess I should just be looking at incorporating it in some of my old stand bys.
    Mimi

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  13. A perfect nutritious and delicious summer salad!

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  14. This reminds me of a Good Eats episode. My favorite part was always when he would tell the history of the food or spices before cooking.

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  15. I had some as a flaked breakfast cereal..I think the cardboard box in came in had more flavor! Your way might be the right way!

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  16. Isn't the history interesting? I read about it when we first began eating it. We like it as a salad and as a side. I am always looking for new recipes! Can't wait to try this one!

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  17. Thanks for the history, enjoyed it! I have quinoa and a bunch of recipes and have yet to make it! Your recipe looks delicious, it may have just pushed me over the edge into trying it already!

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  18. Cathy: It wasn't my favorite salad in the whole world, but it was surprisingly good.

    Lucie: I'm glad I tried it and will make a couple of Heidi's recipes soon.

    Chan: It was pretty good, actually.

    Susan: Think you will really like the magazine. It's filled with bright recipes and quite inexpensive.

    Bryan: I like to try things I've never made before!

    Lecia: It was an interesting experiment. I usually use a whole wheat pasta in a similar recipe.

    HH: It's all in what you add to it!

    Zurin: Thanks!

    Debbi: Nice to have some healthy on my blog for change!

    Stella: Pleased you liked the post...sometimes I think it will make people's eyes glaze over!

    Bridgett: That roasted corn really adds something to the dish.

    Mimi: Be sure to check out Heidi's recipes then.

    Natasha: Unusual recipe for me, but it sure was good.

    Blonde Duck: Glad you enjoyed the trip through history!

    BD: Well, Dick, I tasted it BEFORE I added the salad makings and while I didn't love it, it had a slightly nutty flavor. Like pasta, rather neutral. But with all the added ingredients, it was excellent.

    Julie: I like history too!

    DishesDone: Think you will be surprised at how good the salad is.

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  19. I've got a bag of Quinoa in the pantry. Tried one recipe and didn't like it at all. And LOL over Buffalo Dick's comment. I felt a similar sentiment over what I tried. I love the corn and black beans in this and will give Quinoa another try.

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  20. I thought I finished my comment earlier, but it must not of gone through. I love using quinoa in salads. I think I like it cold better than warm. Your salad looks wonderful.

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  21. What a lovely blog! I love the idea that you can print the recipes off!

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  22. Yummy quinoa and delicious presentation!

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  23. I've made various versions of quinoa salad several times and I've loved them. I have a box of red quinoa that I'm trying to figure out what to do with. This sounds like the perfect dish!

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  24. I love quinoa and the history has always amazed me... that and it is a nearly perfect food... how bad can it be. I think in the many years I've been making it I only screwed it up once... so I could say it's fool proof as well as delicious. Great recipe, Barbara... love corn and beans with it... so good! DO you like red or blond best, inquiring minds???

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  25. wonderful history! i love learning about food. this looks so fresh, and healthy! that roasted corn is such a great addition.

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  26. Great info on quinoa! I've used it as an oatmeal replacement for breakfast. It was delicious cooked with raisins. Your recipe looks like a perfect quinoa starter recipe.

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  27. I love quinoa! And I'm going to go ahead and add a really strange connection I just realized from you shared. The Spaniards forbade the consumption of quinoa AND the practice and Judaism. So is it totally coincidence that quinoa is kosher for Passover?? (Actually quinoa is kosher for Passover because it's NOT a grain, but I just can't get over the irony here!)

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  28. Barbara, I'm sold out on this already! What's funny is that we just finished two days of a Cuban pizza with many of the same ingredients, but this recipe will be even better, a cold salad with quinoa and basil. I was very interested in the history lesson. I say pooey on Pizarro! I will fix this for my sister when she is here next week from England.

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  29. Your salad looks delicious! Love the history lesson :) I recently tried quinoa for the first time too, very versatile!

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  30. B - It looks like we're psychically linked! The salad even looks similar - wow! Interesting history of how it arrived in America.

    This looks like another great recipe, will have to try it.

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  31. I love all this info about quinoa! it is one of my favorite grains. Heidi is my go-to for so many things...her recipes never fail to please. This looks like a winner! The perfect lunch salad!

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  32. This is new to me, but it sound healthy and comfort!

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  33. This guinoa salad looks beautiful. Love everything in there. I think these are lucky quinoa, aren't they! Enjoy and have a nice day!
    Regards, Kristy

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  34. i've been on board the quinoa train for awhile now, and i think the salad is outstanding. the roasted corn is the kicker for me--great touch, barbara!

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  35. This salad looks delicious and I enjoyed reading your intro on quinoa; the historical background was fascinating to me, it is always history repeating itself in the form if invasions and destructions of local cultures by more advanced societies; it seems like nature prevails at the end, as centuries later quinoa is experiencing this unprecedented revival. Good!

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  36. Great minds think alike Barbara, I just made a quinoa dish last weekend! And I dind't know that it needed to be stored in the fridge-thanks for the tip! :D

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  37. I'm happy to have another healthy and delicious salad for our summer dining. Thanks for the recipe and the information. Have you ever tried red quinoa? I found it at Whole Foods a few months ago and turned it into a basic chili, substituting the quinoa for the ground beef. It was quite delicious. The red has a more robust and different taste.

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  38. Wow, have I ever been pronouncing that wrong in my head. Good thing I never said it out loud. :)

    I have noticed these little guys quite often when I go to the grocery store but never knew what I would want to make with them.. but that salad makes me want to run out to the store and grab a box right now!!

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  39. Hey Barbara, I did a guest post today on Lazaro Cooks, and I would be honored if you check it out...
    Stella

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  40. As you very well say, Barbara, quinoa is very dear to the people of South America (like me), so your salad together with corn...just touched my heart!
    Excellent Styling,
    Un beso,
    Cristina

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  41. LOve your salad Barbara and you make me laugh with yur post, and Pizarro... and dont ave idea, ja,ja, you are really funny, well you know, when they look the Potatoes, dont like, after many year a french man discover the potatoes were so tasty!!. Is so fun .
    Seriously I have to make quinoa I will try with this salad because Daughter love it. She dont eat meat and a friend told me quinoa is so good. huggs gloria

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  42. I have seen it around blogosphere so muc too but havent prepared it yet:-)
    Loving ur pics and recipe and yeah the write up too!!!
    Super weekend to u!

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  43. I'll have to try your recipe! I like quinoa and have made it a few times but never in as interesting a way...which probably explains why I haven't found it as exciting as I want to. I'm going to remember this salad next time I'm in a quinoa kind of mood.

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  44. I love the nuttiness of quinoa and the bonus is my hubby likes it, whereas I cannot persuade him to eat couscous and it is just as easy to prepare.

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  45. So thanks for finally teaching me what quinoa is. Like you, I've seen it everywhere but was unsure how to pronounce it, how to use it and where is comes from. Now I have all the answers! That salad looks so inspiring and delicious, beatifully presented too.

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  46. I love quinoa so much. It's great for a vegetarian diet. This salad looks awesome. It reminds me of the way they prepare quinoa in Peru. I love that you used fresh grilled corn.

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  47. love the food,
    everything looks fabulous!

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  48. I so appreciated the history you served with your recipe today. This looks fabulous and serves as a reminder to me that I must do more cooking with grain-like products. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  49. I have always wanted to try quinoa...a girl sells it at our farmers market..I promise to get some next time I go..hugs for a great day. xoxoxo

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  50. I have been enjoying quinoa for the last few months. Now, that I have read your post, I really have a better understanding of this wonderful seed, I have been enjoying.

    This was a great post. Very informative.

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  51. With fresh summer corn just starting to come in to the market, this sounds like the perfect recipe to use some of my Costco size bag of quinoa.

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  52. This is definitely the grain and the salad of the summer. I am seeing it all over the place on a lot of blogs lately, but you did it the best. An excellent read. I really appreciate that... and the detailed photos.
    Thank you!
    Big hug,
    Valerie

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  53. I really like quinoa and this salad looks so good. I m trying it next :)

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  54. I fell in love with the andes and the local cultures when I travel throughout south america years ago. I never once had quinoa there, but when I started studying the history and the anthropology of the area I learned about quinoa and started using it. However, it's one of the most expensive "grains" in this country, and I decided that I don't really like the taste all that much, but I never had in a salad! It looks very interesting!

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  55. Such a wealth of information you've dug up here Barbara. I love quinoa and am so glad to see it become quite mainstream now. Great looking salad.

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  56. I haven't used quinoa much, your salad looks very healthy and colourful.

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  57. This grain has become quite the staple in my kitchen. I especially enjoy the red variety.
    I was so pleased that you included a photo of the plant...I had never seen it before...just lovely.
    BTW...it was great of you to have passed by to see me. Hope you do get a chance to make those Citrus Ricotta cookies ;o)
    Looking forward to your next post.
    Flavourful wishes, Claudia

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  58. I absolutely love quinoa. Definately will try you recipe, check out my, perghaps you will like it. :)

    http://sensesinthekitchen-karolina.blogspot.com/2010/03/roasted-tomatoes-quinoa-with-pine-nuts.html

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  59. Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

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  60. I've never made anything with quinoa. I bought some about two months ago and it has been sitting in the pantry waiting for you to write this post! I'd better make it soon since I see it should be used within 3 months.

    Wonderfully informative post!

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  61. This salad is so pretty! The roasted corn sounds really phenomenal with the quinoa. I loved reading all the info about quinoa -- I never knew it was related to beets! Very interesting.

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  62. Thank you for the interesting background on quinoa! I didn't know it was related to spinach. Your salad looks very vibrant and delicious!

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  63. I had no idea of Quinoa, what a great salad. I have to try it. I love tabouli, can you make Tabouli with Quinoa?

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  64. Tried to comment but screen froze - thank you for letting me know about the nutritional value and history of this "seed" I like a lot. Might just make it a staple because of that. If you ever post well-rounded information about various foods like that again, that would be lovely, Barbara.

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  65. Loved the education on quino....I'm starting to appreciate it more! I used it once and thought they had a fishy smell. I'm inspired to give them another try, though!

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  66. That's a great post - very interesting. My husband is passionate about Andean crops, so he has grown it for many years (although not recently). We really like it and mostly use it as a rice substitute. When cooking it though, we find to get rid of the saponins, it works best if you bring it to the boil and then drain it in a sieve and rinse before putting it back on the stove with fresh water. I also use the flour in cakes.

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  67. I love that quinoa is virtuous and delicious! It's so great with beans too. Your roasted corn looks fantastic. I could make a meal of this dish!

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  68. the corns look good,
    Happy Saturday!

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  69. I'm the only one at home who likes quinoa, Your salad seems délicieus , I'll feel like preraring it just for me.

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  70. I am starting to include quinoa, more often. It is a bit magical. I find it works in place of rice or barley or many of the grains, we use.

    This is a great combination and I want it added to my quinoa list.

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  71. I have never tried quinoa either although, I too have seen it many times in the world of food blogging. I LOVE, Love, love the taste of history Barbara. I haven't gotten to do any research on the stuff myself. A huge thank you to you!!!

    I must say, that dish looks amazing and so colorful too!!! It's a keeper, for sure.

    Thank you so much for sharing. I really enjoyed this post, but then, I love all your posts!!!

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  72. Ooh, that's a beautiful, colorful salad. I can tell from the recipe that it's absolutely delicious as well!

    Bad Mr. Pizarro. Known throughout history for being a villain. That's justice.

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  73. I have been eating quinoa for quite a while but I've never known its history- thanks for filling me in! Your recipe looks delicious. I'll have to try it when fresh sweet corn is ready in my neck of the woods! Thanks for sharing the recipe. Betty

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