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El Inca Llora (a song about Peru)
Recipe for Quinua Casserole

Quinua Casserole

Quinua ('Kinuwa') is a staple food of the Quechuas in the highlands of Peru. It grows at high altitude and, although it looks like a grain, it is actually a type of fruit. Quinua is high in protein (16 to 20 percent) and is high in cystine, lysine and methionine - amino acids that tend to be low in other grains. IT also contains good levels of calcium, iron, and phosphorus, B vitamins and vitamin E.

Having grown up with Quinua, I know that the taste is not something you write home about. While the health advantage of the food is great, it is often avoided because if its "blandness". Quinua can be prepared as soup, or doctored up with a host of add ons to add taste. This casserole recipe was served to me recently and is the best rendition of Quinua I have ever tasted.

This recipe is made from ingredients available in the U.S. Some ingredients, like achiote (annato), and Quinua itself may need to come from a Latin American market. Some health food markets carry Quinua (also spelled Quinoa - with an 'o').

Preparation Time

Allow overnight for soaking quinua. Allow about an hour or two for preparation.

Shopping list:

2 cups quinua yoghurt (plain) 1 bunch green onions extra virgin olive oil achiote (annato seeds) 4 cups beef or chicken stock sea salt garlic 2 potatoes 1 bunch cilantro piima cream or creme fraiche cream cheese

Rinse Quinua

Quinua must be rinsed thoroughly before it is consumed. Rinse it as you would rice, by filling a container of quinua with water, swishing it around and pouring out the water. Repeat this process 5 or 6 times until the water mixed with the quinua is clear and no longer shows cloudiness.

Soak Quinua

Soak quinua in 6 cups of warm water and 2 tablespoons of plain yoghurt for 12 hours.


  • Rinse and drain quinua by pouring through a colander. Refill and drain with clean water until water appears clear. Put quinua aside to drain.
  • In two tablespoons of olive oil, saute' 1 teaspoon of achiote for several minutes or until the oil turns yellow. Remove achiote seeds from oil. Chop 1 bunch of onions and 3 cloves of garlic. Saute oninons in the same oil, and add garlic at the last minute.
  • Combine saute mixture with 4 cups of stock and quinua and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.
  • While simmering quinua, slice 2 potatoes and boil for 5-10 minutes, then drain water.
  • When quinua is finished simmering, stir in potatoes. Add cilantro as a bunch (do not chop up or separate - as you will take the cilantro out before serviing), immersing until cilantro is covered.
  • Allow to stand about 1/2 hour.
  • Stir in 1/2 cup piima cream or creme fraiche, and 5 tablespoons of creme cheese, just before serving.
  • Presentation

    Serve in a casserole dish, and enjoy!