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Martha Shem-Tov’s Quinoa

Martha in her Kitchen

At the ripe old age of 66, cute little Polish Martha Shem-Tov decided to climb Machu Pichu in Peru, with her childhood friend Joanna Friedman. The two youngsters first discovered “this amazing quinoa” in Cuzco, on a street Martha calls, “you know, the Israeli street.” Quinoa, Martha explains to me over the phone is actually not a grain- but in fact a seed, deriving from the spinach family. In her history lesson with the Peruvian waiter, she learned that the ancient Incas knew long ago that quinoa is an excellent source of protein, and is a staple of Peru’s cuisine. This is also what Martha and Joanna ate while at a Peruvian homestay in Puno, where the locals are vegetarian and included quinoa in their soups. Martha attributes her success in climbing Machu Pichu to the quinoa. :>)

An accomplished cook in our family, when Martha is turned onto something – it’s not long before we all start trying it. “Quinoa,” Martha tells me, “can be served as a salad dish (she says for tabouli – although I prefer not to mess with the classic recipe) or as a side dish with cranberries, pine nuts and sunflower seeds. It can also be served hot for a side dish for meats, similar to rice – but “not empty calories.” Enjoy!


  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 1 cup of liquid; options: orange juice, water, chicken/veggie stock
  • 1/2 tsp. of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. of pepper
  • 1 tbsp. of sunflower seed oil
  • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries [substitutes: raisins or chopped apricots]
  • 2 tbsp. of pine nuts


  1. Rinse quinoa; add to pot
  2. Add liquid, salt and pepper and bring to boil; once boils, bring to medium heat
  3. Cover and let it simmer for about 20 minutes
  4. Turn heat off; let it stand for 10 minutes; then fluff with fork
  5. In a frying pan, (while the quinoa is cooking) heat up oil on medium-high heat, drop in cranberries and stir until the cranberries “puff up a little bit”
  6. Drop this on top of the quinoa;
  7. In the same frying pan (without the oil) – brown/toast pine nuts; add to quinoa – fluff with fork
  8. Garnish with parsley or, as Martha calls it, “Chi-lantro” (aka: cilantro)

This should serve about 3-4 pple – depending on how piggish you are. :>)


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