When shopping for organic food, you’ve undoubtedly loaded your grocery cart with rice, pasta, potatoes and other side-dish staples. But have you ever purchased a package of quinoa?

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) comes from the goosefoot plant, native to South America. Cultivated for centuries for its high-protein seeds, it’s also a great source of fiber, iron, calcium and phosphorus. The ancient Incas, in fact, called it “chisaya mama” (mother of all grains).

Quinoa can be substituted for rice in most recipes, which is what Andrea Beaman did when she created this Quinoa Pilaf. A contestant on Bravo’s “Top Chef,” she served it with Curried Sweet Potato for a hearty vegetarian meal.

If you have difficulty finding organic quinoa at your local market, you may order it online through Amazon.com. We recommend Bob’s Red Mill Organic Whole Grain Quinoa.

Quinoa Pilaf

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 shitake mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  1. Rinse quinoa. Add quinoa and water to a pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Add a pinch of sea salt. Cover and reduce flame to simmer. Cook for 12 minutes.
  3. In a frying pan, sauté garlic and onion in olive oil for 2–3 minutes. Add shitake mushrooms, sage and sea salt (add black pepper to taste), and cook for 3–5 minutes.
  4. In a mixing bowl combine cooked veggies, dried cranberries and cooked quinoa.