Quinoa: The Grain That’s Not

Tired of potatoes, potatoes, potatoes for Pesach? Try quinoa (“Keen-Wa”), a sesame-seed-sized kernel first brought to the United States from Chile nineteen years ago, according to Rebecca Theurer Wood. Quinoa has been cultivated in the Andes Mountains for thousands of years, growing three to six feet tall despite high altitudes, intense heat, freezing temperatures, and as little as four inches of annual rainfall. Peru and Bolivia maintain seed banks with 1,800 types of quinoa.

Wood notes that quinoa was first grown outside of South America fifteen years ago. Steve Gorad and Don McKinley, wishing to market quinoa in the United States, had commissioned a farmer to see if quinoa would grow in the Colorado Rockies. It did.

Seeds range in color from pink and orange to blue-black, purple, and red. However, once their natural saponin coating is washed off, the seeds are pale yellow.

Kosher for Passover Status: Quinoa has been determined to be Kosher l’Pesach. It is not related to the chameishes minei dagan – five types of grain products, nor to millet or rice. Quinoa is a member of the “goose foot” family, which includes sugar beets and beet root.

STAR-K tested quinoa to see if it would rise. The result was as Chazal termed, sirchon: the quinoa decayed – it did not rise. However, recent investigations have found that there is a possibility that quinoa grows in proximity to certain grains and may be processed in facilities that compromise quinoa’s Kosher for Passover status. Therefore, quinoa should only be accepted with reliable Kosher for Passover supervision. In addition , there have been infestation issues in many brands of quinoa. We recommend quinoa be checked prior to use.

See www.checkforinsects.com for instructions

Quinoa Preparation: To avoid burning the delicate kernels, pour the quinoa into boiling water (double the amount of water as the amount of quinoa), turn off the flame, and cover the pot. The quinoa will continue to cook itself, is ready in ten minutes or less, and can be served like rice. Quinoa is a translucent dish with more calcium, iron, and protein than wheat, and is gluten free.