It seems I hear a lot more people dropping the “quinoa” name than just two or three years ago.

Call it the pronunciation lag — when people are slower than usual to adopt something new because they don’t know how to say the word.

Quinoa, or “keen-wah,” finds plenty of company among foreign foods that have been introduced to American diets in recent years, the likes of broccoli rabe, agave and adzuki beans. Some are easier to say than others. What’s also interesting is that many of the new foods are not just exotic but healthy. And they are catching on, judging by their increasing availability and inclusion in the latest cookbooks.

For example, a few years ago, I was vaguely aware of quinoa. Then an impressive cookbook titled “Quinoa” arrived at the office. In the process of research for a story, I became a huge fan of the grainlike, super-seed from South America.

Recently, Jane Charles was in touch to say that her family was trying to move their diet toward more beans and grains and asked for recipes. Here’s a few to whet the appetite for healthier eating:

From Susan Hartry of West Ashley, who says it is great as a stuffing for squash or bell peppers:

Quinoa Cashew Casserole


1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 medium sweet onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup quinoa, rinsed in a strainer under warm water, 1 minute

5 sundried tomatoes, chopped (not oil packed)

1 cup hot veggie broth

3 tablespoons tamari

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon cayenne or to taste

Salt to taste

½ cup chopped cashews


Microwave garlic, onion and olive oil in an uncovered 2-quart container on high for 1 minute.

Add remaining ingredients, except cashews, to the onion and garlic mixture. Cover tightly and microwave on high for 4 minutes or to boiling, then at 50 percent until liquid is absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes. Let dish stand, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Taste and adjust salt. Stir in the cashews.

Serve hot or room temperature.

I’ve also noticed a lot of buzz about lentils lately. Here is a dish from “Popular Greek Recipes” published by Charleston’s own Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity. Parishoner Mary Larry sent it our way.

Lentils With Spinach

(Faki me Spanaki)

Yields 4 to 6 servings


2 cups lentils

1 onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, crushed

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

3 cups vegetable or chicken broth

4 ounces baby spinach leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

3 tablespoons lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste


Sort and rinse lentils in cold water. Drain and set aside. Saute onions in oil for 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin and ginger until soft. Stir in lentils and enough broth to cover. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender. Stir in spinach until wilted and liquid is reduced. Add parsley, mint, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Blend well.

This recipe I spotted in Cooking Light’s hot-off-the-press “Pick Fresh Cookbook” (Oxmoor House, $21.95) might have local appeal because of the seafood.

Shrimp and White Bean Cakes With Roasted Garlic Sauce

Serves 4 (2 cakes and 2 tablespoons sauce)


1 whole garlic head

7 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/2 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp, divided

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained, divided

1/2 cup cooked bulgur

1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Remove white papery skin from garlic head (do not peel or separate cloves).

Drizzle 1 teaspoon oil over garlic; wrap in foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour; cool 10 minutes. Separate cloves; squeeze into a small bowl to extract pulp. Discard skins. Mash garlic using the back of a spoon. Stir in yogurt, juice, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

Place 3 shrimp and 2/3 cup beans in a food processor; pulse until blended but not quite pureed. Add remaining shrimp, remaining beans, bulgur, cilantro, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/8 teaspoon salt to food processor; pulse until coarsely chopped. Fill a 1/4-cup dry measuring cup with shrimp mixture. Invert onto a platter lined with parchment paper; gently pat into a 21/2-inch-wide patty. Repeat procedure with remaining shrimp mixture, forming 8 cakes. Refrigerate 20 minutes.

Preheat broiler.

Brush a jelly-roll pan with 1 tablespoon oil. Arrange chilled cakes on pan; brush tops of cakes with 1 tablespoon oil. Broil 5 minutes or until browned. Carefully turn cakes over. Brush tops of cakes with oil from pan. Broil an additional 5 minutes or until browned. Serve cakes with sauce.

Who’s got the recipe?

Still looking:

With a greater variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables becoming available, a colleague asked for good and/or creative recipes for making smoothies.

Looking for a recipe or have one to share? Email or call Food and Features Editor Teresa Taylor at 937-4886.