Most adventurous bulk foods shoppers have come across the Andean pseudo grain quinoa. Pronounced "keen-wah," this high-protein tiny seed looks like couscous in its raw state, but cracks open to reveal a tiny tadpole-like tail when cooked. Quinoa's high-protein content, mild nutty flavor and lack of gluten have made it an increasingly popular grain substitute for people who get excited by the term "grain substitute."
Being a member of the aforementioned gastronomic group, my jaw dropped when I entered Boise Co-op a few weeks ago and spotted what appeared to be bright yellow, elbow-shaped quinoa pasta in the bulk foods section. As I got closer to the label, I realized that it was indeed pasta. And was indeed made of quinoa. Double heck yes.
After I got my new find home and threw it into a pot of salted water, my excitement started to wane. You can't cook quinoa pasta like regular pasta--over-cooked, it breaks apart; undercooked, it tastes waxy. After a few experimental trials, though, I found the secret. Add a few glugs of oil to the water first, then bring it to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for seven minutes and drain. Ta da! Quinoa pasta. Like regular pasta, but so much more awesome.