Newsletter Library

Read OLDER Newsletters Online or download PDF files.

Sign up for our Newsletter

Subscribe to the occasional email from Piko Wholefoods:

Quinoa and Polenta - January 2000

This newsletter focuses on two grains that are becoming more popular in New Zealand, and are a welcome addition to a vegetarian diet. Quinoa and polenta are both gluten-free, worth thinking about as most of us brought up in this country have had an over dose of wheat.

First Quinoa, an excellent protein food and impressive in its amino acid value.

QUINOA (say Keen-wah)

Like buckwheat, it is not a true grain. It is an ancient seed crop from the South Americas, known in the Andes as the 'mother grain'. Quinoa means 'mother' in one of the old languages of the Andean people, which shows the high respect and reverence it has been given. So sacred was quinoa to the Incas that each year the Inca ruler planted the first row of quinoa with a solid gold spade.
It has the best protein of any grain with the exception of Amaranth. It is a complete protein and has an almost ideal balance of essential amino acids, such as lysine, typically low in other grains. It is also unlike most other grains and seeds, except millet and almonds, in that it is alkalising rather than acid-forming. And good news to many, it is gluten-free.
Quinoa has a nutty flavour, is light and fluffy when cooked and easy to digest. Store quinoa in the fridge or freezer if storage beyond a month is desired.
Because some of the bitter saponin covering on the grain can still be present (even though most, including Pikos' quinoa, is rinsed or washed before being sold), you should thoroughly rinse the dry grain until the water runs clear.
It quadruples in size upon cooking.
Cook eg 1 cup quinoa : 2 cups water OR ½ cup quinoa : 1 cup water about 10 – 15 minutes or until tender or the 'saturn' like ring around the seed becomes obvious.
Fluff with a fork. Toasting (in a hot, dry pan for about 5 minutes) before cooking, brings out the nutty flavour.
Great with vegetables, in soufflés and casseroles, salads, can add cooked grain to soups; grind for flour; sprout.

Here is a gluten-free special for the summer – why miss out on delicious Tabouli. Substituting quinoa for the traditional bulghur wheat gives this tabouli a lighter, fluffier, and slightly nutty taste and enables people allergic to wheat to experience the flavourful joys of this Middle Eastern dish.

Quinoa Tabouli

Ingredients (1 serving)
1 cup water
½ cup quinoa
3 medium ripe tomatoes
1 cup parsley
1 cup scallions/spring onions
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup safflower oil
2 tbl fresh mint
salt to taste

Pour water into a saucepan. Add quinoa, bring to boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer, cover. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until all water has been absorbed.
While quinoa is cooking, finely chop the tomatoes, parsley, and scallions. Add lemon juice, oil, and mint to tomato mixture. Stir in cooked quinoa and salt. Mix well. Let tabouli sit in the refrigerator for a day to blend flavours.
Tabouli is traditionally served at room temperature.

Toasted Quinoa Salad

¾ cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup diced carrots,
½ cup chopped red pepper
¼ cup minced parsley,
2 sliced spring onions
juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime (or 1-2 tbsp. of each)
1 ½ tbsp. tamari,
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp. Chilli sauce (Tabasco)

Rinse quinoa and drain. Put in a pot and dry toast until a few grains begin to pop. Add 1 ½ cups water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with fork and cool.
Mix veges in large bowl. Add cooled quinoa and toss to combine. Whisk together lemon and lime juices, tamari, garlic and chilli sauce. Pour over salad and combine well. Chill until serving time. Serves 4-6.

Available at Piko:
Organic quinoa 1kg = $10.15 500g = $5.14
Quinoa and corn pasta 250g bag = $5.21
Quinoa flakes 340g box = $7.72 Steam rolled for hot cereal and more.


A tasty grain to explore in the tomato season. Corn, from which polenta is made, is gluten-free and fairly rich in vitamin A and protein, although because the protein factor is less than wheat (it's lacking in some essential amino acids) it is sometimes considered nutritionally inferior, hence the value and tradition of eating with beans.
Polenta is a staple diet of Northern Italy. Basic polenta is made with polenta, which is maize flour and salted water. In Italy, maize flour is available in a variety of forms – very coarse, medium or fine. The coarser the flour the more yellow in colour.
Whatever the type of flour or 'cornmeal' used, polenta is always made in a special large copper pan called a 'paiolo'. The flour is gradually added to a pan of hot water and the mixture is stirred constantly throughout the cooking time, with a long wooden stick, to prevent lumps forming. The polenta is ready when it is like a thick porridge. It is then spread on a wooden board and left to set.
Plain boiled polenta is rather bland, so it is often served with a strong flavoured sauce or with grated cheese. It is tasty with butter, herbs or garlic added whilst is is cooking.
Some of the best polenta dishes are those which have been cooked twice. The polenta is left to cool and when set it is fried or frilled and served with a sauce or topped with cheese and vegetables.
Cold polenta, cut into slices or chunks, is eaten as an alternative to bread in some parts of Northern Italy.

Basic polenta or Pizza base

2 cups polenta
5 cups water
Frozen corn (optional)

Bring water and a pinch of salt to the boil. Sprinkle in the polenta, stirring all the time, bring back to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 25 mins, stirring frequently. This gets very thick. Frozen corn can be added while cooking, or pepper, butter, chopped fresh herbs, crushed garlic, freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Can be served hot at this stage or...
Spoon the mixture onto a wooden board or oiled baking sheet and use wet hands to pat into a flat square. Leave about 1 hour to set. When it is cool, cut into squares. Grill in the oven until lightly browned and crispy and dip into tamari, or fry in olive oil for about 3 mins. on each side until crisp.
Serve hot.
Can also be shaped into flat patties and used instead of bread rolls for soya burgers, or flatten into a pizza pan, add tomato paste, garlic, basil and sliced onions, tomatoes and lots of mushrooms. Bake in a hot oven until the topping is cooked, for a lovely pizza!

Polenta with fresh tomato sauce

750g ripe tomatoes, peeled, cored and quartered
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tsp finely chopped basil or ½ tsp dried basil
2 tsp finely chopped marjoram or ½ tsp dried marjoram
1/8 tsp pepper
3 tsp unsalted margarine or butter
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
2 ½ cups cold water
1 ½ tsp grated parmesan cheese

Available at Piko:
Organic polenta 1kg = $5.18

References: 'Grain Power' , Druchler, Sabine, Pukahukahu Press, Northland. Available at Piko.
'The Harvest Wholefoods Collection' Loris Stone, 1992 N Z
'The Herb Companion' June/July 1993 U.S / Internet – various sites
'Pizza, Pasta and Polenta' Ferrigno, Ursula. Pub. 1995 Merehurst Ltd,
London (recommended for other delicous polenta recipes).
'Whole Food Facts' Roehl, Evelyn Vermont
This newsletter was compiled by Shelley at Piko

Organic sugar is back down to the very good price of $4.00 kg – in an open bin by the oat sacks.
We have quality ripe and delicious stone fruit arriving into the shopfrom the North Island – nectarines, peaches, apricots.
Also organic dried nectarines – 125g at $3.29 – and organic dried peaches – 125g at $3.39.
Sea vegetable salad 15g - $8.49 in macrobiotic section.
Dr Hauschka Sunscreen Cream for Children SPF 22 $25.05 and Dr Hauschka Sunscreen Lotion SPF 15 $21.10
SPF 15 NTF Sunscreen Naturals $18.42
NTF Naturals Pure Aloe/Tea Tree Sunburn Pain Relief $18.42
Mariua Rainforest Soaps $3.02 sustainably harvested in the rainforests of the Solomon Islands (no palm oil)

WANTED: If you have successful recipes for the breadmaker – gluten free included – using our active dried yeast, please let us know. The make and model of the breadmaker would be helpful also.

Read OLDER Newsletters Online:

Contact us

Phone: 03 366 8116
Phone Office: 03 389 5062

Follow us


  • People before profit
  • Environment before Convenience
  • Quality before Quantity