Quinoa is quickly becoming America’s favorite whole grain, popping up in more and more household cupboards. These grains are incredibly fibrous, high in protein and rich in iron and calcium. Nutty and especially hearty, quinoa makes a surprisingly versatile base for sweet or savory side dishes. The grain, which originated in the Andean region of South America, is easily prepared in the same way as rice. Although the tongue-tying name may seem daunting (pronounced kinwa or keen-wah), fear not! Quinoa can be easily integrated into almost any diet.

From the seasoned quinoa fanatics to those entirely new to the latest health food trend, quinoa seems to offer endless flavor variations to keep cooking with the unique grain both fresh and exciting. One of the most popular preparations involves adding roasted or steamed veggies to your quinoa paired with a light, citrusy vinaigrette. This creates a salad that only improves with time as the quinoa takes on the flavors of your dressing and vegetables. Try adding anything from kale to sliced almonds to dried cranberries for extra depth. Served warm or cold, a quinoa salad is a great side dish or snack to have on hand. It is also versatile enough to be used in frittatas, black bean patties, casseroles and even sweet desserts.

Le Pain Quotidien offers quinoa in many of our specials such as our Organic Quinoa & Spelt Scone; Organic Quinoa, Lentils & Vegetables Tartine and in our main menu items like Quinoa Taboulé, and our Seared Quinoa Cake. Can you tell we like quinoa?

You can’t go wrong cooking with quinoa. Clear out your fridge, channel your inner Iron Chef and get creative with your next quinoa creation! Make sure to share your favorite concoctions and recipes with us, too! Or, stop by Le Pain Quotidien and order one of our many menu options made with quinoa. We hope to see you soon!

Image: Flickr, Marionlon