Concha y Toro

Ania Smolec 08/01/2015

High plateau Quinoa, the millenary super food of the future

In many altiplano cities you can find multicolored and multicultural dishes based on quinoa, a culinary treasure of the past and the future.


Tarapacá is a region where coexist mining and coastline with fishing. Miners and fishermen live in the austere but beautiful landscape of the Atacama Desert. In the regional capital Iquique and in many picturesque altiplano cities you can find multicolored and multicultural dishes based on gourmet products such as quinoa, a culinary treasure of the past and the future. Below comes our simple guide of how to prepare quinoa, create modern recipes and make a successful pairing with wines.

Tarapacá region is located in northern Chile at the border with Bolivia and Peru. Its landscape is painted with lush colors that mutate as the day goes on. The sand, sky, rocks, even the desert plants appear to be sprinkled with gold dust.

The Andean high plateau is the home of the Aymaras, a stoic and proud ethnicity living there for thousands of years. They still live in adobe houses; almost the same way as their ancestors did. Their dietary habits are transmitted from generation to generation and today many of their traditional ingredients are rediscovered by modern kitchen.

Since ancient times the diet of the Aymara is based on corn, potatoes, llama meat, goat milk, and quinoa. The quinoa still plays a crucial role in their diet, for example completing vegetable stews. It is a crop cultivated in the Andean highlands of Peru, Bolivia and Chile. The name of this plant was known more than 5,000 years ago and comes from the Quechua language. However, the ancient Incas, who conquered the Aymaras and other native tribes, called quinoa chisaya mama or mother of all grains.


Although most think that quinoa is a grain, it is actually a seed, and though you may not believe, comes from the same family as beets and spinach. It is known as the food of the future, easy to plant, even in difficult conditions such as altitude mountain range, very low temperatures overnight and extremely poor soils.

For its many beneficial properties quinoa is recognized as a super food. Quinoa is incredibly nutritious, has high protein content, higher than any other cereals, and is rich in elements such as calcium, iron, fiber, complex carbohydrates and antioxidants. It is also gluten-free, lactose- free and is the only plant that contains nine essential amino acids. Yes, it’s a real treasure for vegans and vegetarians.

It tastes great, has smooth and rich flavor, a little bit nutty and is incredibly versatile in cooking. You can incorporate it to your breakfasts, lunches and dinners, as a part of soups, sauces, sides for meats, in salads, in salty or sweet dishes, practically whenever you want.  It can be substitute of the meat and dairy in vegetarian recipes. You can even make bread from quinoa flour.

You have to cook quinoa similar to rice.  It is best to rinse quinoa thoroughly to remove and residue of saponin, a soapy, bitter substance that naturally coats the grain.  So after washing the grains you cook it in salted water or light broth, the ratio is 2 cups of liquid for every 1 cup of quinoa. Cook covered until the grains are translucent 12-15 min, and then let the quinoa rest briefly before serving.

We want you recommend you recipe for Chilean Quinoa salad by chef Ruth Van Waerebeek

For 4 persons you need:

  • 1,5 cup quinoa rinsed and cooked,
  • 2 tomatoes peeled, seeded and diced,
  • 1 red bell pepper diced,
  • 1 cup finely chopped sweet onion rinsed under cold water,
  •  2 jalapeño or Serrano chilies, seeded and finely minced,
  • 0,5 cup finely minced fresh coriander or parsley or mix of both,
  • Juice from 1 freshly squeezed lemon,
  • Salt and 1,5 cup olive oil.
Ensalada quínoa
  1. Place the quinoa in a large bowl.
  2. Add the vegetables, cilantro, and lemon juice, oil, finally mix all well.
  3. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes before serving.
  4. You can add to this salad other ingredients, vegetables like cucumber or carrots, season with different herbs like basil.

As we modified the recipe also changes the wine we choose. An optimal matching of the wine and quinoa salad depends on the protein, which you may want to include in the recipe. For example, if you want to eat your salad with fried chicken cubes, choose the bubbling Casillero del Diablo Devils Collection Brut.

If you choose shrimp, go for a fresh Casillero del Diablo Pinot Grigio. If you have a mood for Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay, consider including smoked salmon in your delicious quinoa salad. A crisp and fresh Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc matches perfectly with some cubes of goat cheese.

Red wines, on the other hand, are perfect for ingredients with more structured protein and more fat percentage. Try Casillero del Diablo Carmenere with salami or Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon with roasted beef.

As I said, quinoa can be a nutritious meal by itself, without including other protein. If you decide to prepare vegetarian quinoa pilaf or burgers, what a great pairing will be with the Casillero del Diablo Rosé.

By introducing the quinoa to your daily menu, you can be sure you are eating rich and super healthy. Each small quinoa pearl will take you to its roots, to the Andes Mountains.