quinoa - Related Content

Quinoa Atamalada or “Tamale – like" Quinoa

Monday, May 1st 2023 6:00 am

1 T oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tsp aji amarillo paste (see substitutions below)
1 C quinoa
Salt and pepper
1/4 C evaporated milk
1/2 C queso fresco in cubes (or any white, fresh cheese)
2 T parsley, chopped
Serves 4

Aji Amarillo Paste is a sweet and spicy yellow pepper condiment that may be hard to find. In its place, use one of the following chopped peppers: sweet red or serrano.

Queso Fresco (fresh cheese) is similar in taste and texture to feta, farmer's cheese, fresh mozzarella, ricotta salata (semi-dry ricotta).


  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan, and saute the onion, garlic, and aji amarillo paste for 3-5 minutes over medium heat. Stir constantly.
  2. Add the quinoa, stir well, and cover with water (about 4 times the amount of quinoa, which is 4 Cups).
  3. Bring to a boil, and simmer for half an hour. If it dries out, add more water. It should have the consistency of a thick soup. Add salt and pepper. Some people prefer it a bit thick, almost like polenta or risotto.
  4. When ready, add the milk, cheese cubes and parsley. Taste for seasoning and serve with rice as pictured above on Peru Delights website.

Quinoa (keen' wah) is a grain native to the Americas along with wild rice, amaranth, corn and mesquite. These grains have ancient histories and all provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and plant protein. Today, due to its popularity as a healthy plant protein, quinoa is one of Peru's major farm exports and no longer as affordable to native Peruvians as it once was.

Quinoa cooks more quickly than rice, making it a convenient ingredient. It can be added ot soups, stews, salads, breakfast "porridge", and even beer-like drinks! Find quinoa in the natural foods section of your favorite store. For other authentic Peruvian recipes with Quinoa, click here.

An Andean legend describes a young boy watched over the crops by Lake Titicaca because his people thought they were being stolen. One night, he discovered a group of girls in the crops, so he made them go away. They turned into birds and flew away to the stars. Bewildered, the boy went looking for one of the stars on the back of a condor and found her. She fed him with quinoa and when he returned to Earth, she gave him this seed so that he would feed his people.

Like amaranth, quinoa was believed to be too important in Incan culture by Spanish conquerors. It was outlawed as a food staple and for use in Incan ceremonies. Rice was introduced by the Spaniards to replace quinoa.

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