Quinoa is one of the ancient grains of the world, making it perfectly suited to a macrobiotic menu with its focus on whole foods. And it cooks in just 20 minutes! The sea vegetable kombu is known as "the bone of the sea" in Japan, where it's used to flavor soups and broths much the way beef or chicken bones are used in this country. Kombu is rich in minerals and trace elements and contains natural flavor-enhancing qualities. Shiitake mushrooms have a nutrient content higher than other mushrooms, and they've been scientifically studied for their cancer-inhibiting qualities.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Quinoa Pilaf:

1 cup quinoa
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, minced
1/4 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms (1 1/2 cups), stemmed and diced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups Kombu-Shiitake Consommé
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons natural soy sauce
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
4 sprigs fresh parsley, for garnish
Shiitake Mushroom Sauce:
2 cups Kombu-Shiitake Consommé
3 tablespoons natural soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ginger, peeled and grated
1/3 cup kuzu root starch

1. In a bowl, generously cover quinoa with cool water. Swish quinoa with your hand to release any dirt. Do this twice as quinoa is coated with the natural substance saponin, which may taste bitter. Drain thoroughly.

2. In a 2- or 3-quart saucepan, heat the oil and add the shallots and mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt. Sauté the vegetables 2 to 3 minutes. Add the consommé and bring to a boil, then add quinoa, cumin and soy sauce. Turn heat down to a slow-boil until liquid is absorbed and grain is light and fluffy, 15 to 20 minutes.

3. To prepare sauce, place consommé, soy sauce and ginger in a 1- or 2-quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium. Dissolve kuzu in cool water to barely cover and add to pot. Stir until mixture thickens and becomes shiny, about 30 seconds.

4. Toss quinoa with pine nuts and parsley. Serve topped with shiitake mushroom sauce.

Variations: For a fancier presentation, pour 1/4 cup sauce on a plate. Pack a 1/2-cup stainless measuring cup with pilaf and tap to unmold on top of sauce. Garnish pilaf with fresh parsley. To make a multi-grain pilaf, combine quinoa with equal parts bulgur (1 part combined grains to 1-1/2 parts water), millet (1 part grains to 2-1/2 parts water), or long grain rice (1 part grains to 1-1/2 parts water) and cook until tender, 15, 30 and 45 minutes respectively.