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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Quinoa Isn't Kitniyot, Legumes

Last night we were at a neighborhood Passover BBQ על האש Al Ha'esh, cookout.  The hostess provided the meat and the guests brought all sorts of side dishes.  We brought wine, since we had plans to be in Jerusalem all day (read all about the lovely museum we visited) and didn't want to commit to prepare food. 

All of the guests were Ashkenazim descended from European Jewry and keep to the custom of not eating kitniyot legumes on Passover. Davka, the most learned of the guests and his wife contributed a quinoa dish.

Quinoa is relatively new to many people. 
Quinoa, a species of goosefoot, is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a member of the true grass family. Wikipedia

There is a lot of controversy among Ashkenazi rabbis about whether it should be added to the list of forbidden legumes or not.  This salad my neighbor brought looks like a bulgur salad, which is totally forbidden on Passover for all Jews.  Instead it was a quinoa salad.  Try this quinoa salad recipe leaving out the cheese.

It's ironic that it was davka these neighbors who brought the quinoa salad.  They are very meticulous in their Torah observance.  If it had been almost anyone else, almost nobody would have touched the quinoa.  Here's the Machon Shilo explanation of quinoa and Passover.
2. Exactly 29 years ago I heard the very same opinion expressed by HaGaon HaRav Shaul Yisraeli z’l. The conversation took place right after Shaharith in Y’shivath Merkaz HaRav, a few days before Pesah. I asked him what his view was regarding qittniyoth. He responded that only those items that Ashk’nazim originally refrained from eating were forbidden. Therefore, he continued, soya beans are permissible because they were unknown in Europe at the time. He added that peanuts are mutar, and that in his home town in Russia, Slutzk, peanuts were the item of choice placed before guests during Pesah. He explicitly mentioned that this was done by all Jews in his town, including the Rav of the town, the world-renowned Gaon, HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer, author of Even HaEzel on the Rambam, who later moved to Jerusalem.
3. By the same logic quinoa may be consumed during Pesah even by those who refrain from qittniyoth; quinoa was unknown in the West till relatively recently.
It makes sense to me.  One thing is that I'm not looking for a food that has to be carefully checked. It's just more work when I don't have the time.


Pesky Settler said...

We eat quinoa on Pesach. I make a quinoa tabouli.

I also just found a recipe for a quinoa-based 'granola' so I may make a batch of that soon.

Sandra said...

Good moed!
Oh, if only! The London Beth Din has ruled that it is kitniot. Of course we must follow that ruling. My mind tellsme that your ruling is right, but who am I to know better than our Beth Din. As we say on our house.......so good they haven't ruled against potatoes!!!

Shy Guy said...

Sandra! You don't need to follow the LBD ruling.

FYI, quinoa is from the same plant family as beets (that's beetroots for you, Sandra).

It is preferable to buy quinoa with a hechsher for Pesach, as some packaging companies do not separate their grain lines from the quinoa. In Israel, you can find quinoa with the Badatz Beit Yosef hechsher. It's states that it's for ochlei kitniyot but that is mainly because of the Eida Hareidit's p'sak along the lines of the LBD.

In the US, I read that the Star-K also has quinoa with a Pesach hashgacha. Rav Heineman, head of the Star-K long ago stated that quinoa is not kitniyot in any which way.

I would also like to know what the LBD has to say about the Igrot Moshe's psak that we do not add to the stringency of kitniyot any more in this day and age.

Of course, we can all go overboard and stop eating potatoes on Pesach by the same logic that you can make flour from them.

BTW, the Israeli Rabbinate's Passover announcement says there's no reason in the world why Ashkenazim should not use canola oil with a Pesach hechsher. We would use it but I worry about our friends panicking and not stepping into our kitchen for the entire week. So we stick with nut oil, which is very good but expensive compared to canola.

I have a neighbor who says he's the founder of the KLO - the Kitniyot Liberation Organization. Enough is enough!

Shy Guy said...

I should add that quinoa on Pesach must be thoroughly checked, whether is has a Pesach hechsher or not.

Shy Guy said...

Article link:

New for Pesach 2013: STAR-K Certified Quinoa That Needs No Further Checking

Batya said...

Sandra, I don't trust that London Beit Din, because it took them much too long to approve a Shabbat Eruv.
Shy, for me freedom is not serving what I must carefully check. The lettuce is enough... but that special packaging looks good.
Pesky, it was a tabouli. And your grandson is adorable.

Shy Guy said...

Batya, assuming there never would have been a custom of kitniyot, you would not include any rice, lentils or beans on your menu because they deny your "freedom"? Suit yourself.

Batya said...

Shy, don't read into things.
If I had "grown up" with eating rice and kitniyot on Pesach, it would be the norm for me. But since I didn't, and I have no reason to add it to my Passover menu, I'm very happy not having to deal with the extra checking. I'm not looking for more work.

Shy Guy said...

No Pesach granola bars for you!

Batya said...

Shy, as if I eat them during the year...

Shy Guy said...

I have no idea.

Anyway, our quinoa chulent is boiling away!

Batya said...

Shy, we're not big chulent eaters either. If you have a good recipe using quinoa, send it to me and I'll post it.