I was in the bulk section of the grocery store today and right next to the quinoa I saw a grain I had never seen or heard of before, “Cañahua.” I was immediately intrigued…I grabbed 2 cups worth and took it home so I could experiment and learn a bit more about this mysterious grain…
Turns out it is a cousin of quinoa, indigenous to the Andean region, primarily Peru and Bolivia. It is a seed of the cañahua plant and lacks saponin, which is the bitter tasting coating that quinoa has (hence the reason why it is always recommended to rinse your quinoa unless you purchase it “pre-rinsed”).
Cañahua is gluten-free, is high in antioxidants, low carb, high in soluble fiber, calcium and magnesium, and has a higher protein content than quinoa! From the research I’ve done so far, it appears that there is a low demand for this amazing grain and although it’s been a staple in the Andean region’s diet for thousands of years, production levels have not been very abundant. Whats great is that chemicals are not needed for their cultivation, as it is a very low-maintenance plant to grow. Let’s help in the survival of this crop by going out to your market or health food store and trying it! I highly recommend it!
Heirloom, Chive and Feta Cañahua Salad
Serves 2; ¾ cup per serving
½ cup cañahua, toasted
1 ½ cups water
2 tbsp chives, plus 1 tsp for garnish
3 tbsp feta cheese
¼ cup heirloom tomatoes, finely diced
sea salt, to taste
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
In a small pot, toast the cañahua on medium heat about 2 to 3 minutes or until fragrant, shaking pot to avoid burning. Add water, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed and the cañahua expands. Let sit covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and fold in sea salt, feta cheese, heirloom tomatoes and chives. Drizzle olive oil over the top and garnish with more chives. Enjoy as a side dish or cold as a salad.