My current food obsession is quinoa, sacred crop of the Incas. Dead easy to prepare, a pleasant nutty flavour and a great rice substitute. Also, really healthy.

My mother was the one who first introduced me to quinoa. When I was a kid, a regular meal at our house was flan, usually made with leftovers. Actually it was totally quiche, but we called it flan. Dunno. I really liked it; my brother, not so much. Considering it contained eggs, that’s no surprise. In an attempt to vary our diet, Mom replaced the usual delicious pie crust with a crust she’d made from quinoa. This was not a hit. I have to say, attempts at varying standard beloved recipes were usually not well received by my brother and me. This isn’t to say that we didn’t have a varied, healthy diet but macaroni and cheese was only to be prepared one way, and the same way each time. As an adult, I love to try new foods and improve a recipe, so I feel for my parents now, a little bit at least.

As for quinoa, I don’t think I ate it again until last year when I spontaneously bought some at the grocery store and decided to give it another chance. I made lemon-scented quinoa as a side dish and added beaten eggs to the leftovers to make a sort of quinoa tortilla. Both were delicious.

I’ve known that quinoa is healthy but I only really started looking into it about a month ago when I came across this article for Quinoa Salad on Greens (blueberries, avocadoes!). I’m definitely a fan of quick tasty healthful meals.

Turns out quinoa is awesome:

Quinoa was of great nutritional importance in pre-Columbian Andean civilizations, being secondary only to the potato, and was followed in importance by maize. In contemporary times, this crop has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source among plant foods. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. (Wikipedia)

Preparation is straightforward: you can steam your quinoa or you can boil it. Most quinoa you buy in the store has had its natural bitter-tasting coating removed but it should be rinsed several times before use to remove any residue. I prefer the ease and speed of the boiling method. Place 1 cup quinoa to two cups water in pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all the water is absorbed. This should take about 15 minutes. The grain will be translucent and the germ split when it’s ready.

In the past month I’ve made four or five different recipes featuring quinoa. For a bbq on the weekend I improvised this salad from what i had at home. It turned out to be perfect salad for hot weather, fresh and light.

Fresh Summer Quinoa Salad

  • quinoa
  • fresh lemon juice
  • fresh lemon zest
  • olive oil
  • diced avocado
  • diced tomatoes
  • chopped mild onion
  • chopped arugula
  • fresh lime juice
  • salt & pepper

Prepare lemon-scented quinoa: that is, add lemon juice, lemon zest and a bit of olive oil to cooked quinoa. Add avocado, tomato, onion and arugula. Chilies could be added if wanted some heat. Cilantro probably too, if you’re into that kind of thing. Add the lime juice. Toss and add salt and pepper to taste.

Other successes have been quinoa topped with scrambled eggs and fresh salsa and last night’s quinoa chili with bell peppers, corn and ground beef.

Help feed my obsession, let me know if you have any secret-hit quinoa recipes that I should absolutely try out. And if you haven’t tried quinoa yet, give it a try and tell me what you think.

10 thoughts on “Quinoa

  1. Theresa has (had?) a recipe for quinoa stuffed zucchinis, which is they way I first had it. I eager bought my own supply, which gathered dust on the shelf. Perhaps it is time to try again.

    Or maybe it was with eggplant? I’m not sure.

    I do know, though, that a conversation about Theresa and quinoa that I was having once resulting in me accidentally calling her a “lesbitarian” instead of just “vegetarian” which sent the listener into unexpectedly loud fits of laughter.


    1. That’s basically what happened last year. I bought it, made one batch and then it sat on my shelf for ages.

      “Lesbitarian” is hilarious.


      1. Ditto. I made it once a few years ago and then never again. I never managed to get rid of the bitter taste though even after rinsing it 5-6 times. That’s the main reason why I haven’t made it again.


  2. We eat quinoa a few times a year. The hubby prefers bulgar as a grain.. so we eat bulgar more often, despite the better health benefits of the quinoa.

    Aaannnyway… on the advice of a NY Times Food Columnist I read a while back and have completely forgotten.. I have made quinoa for breakfast a few times with really great success. You essentially cook it up (or use leftovers) and treat it like you would oatmeal. Add nuts, berries, raisins or other dried fruits, milk or cream, brown sugar or honey, whatever strikes your fancy. It’s kind of my ‘power breakfast’ if I don’t want eggs – again.


  3. I have a less-than-well-formed plan to replace some of my reliance on animal proteins with plant proteins. This fits in nicely.


  4. I followed that link. I’m a little disturbed by the quinoa + mayonnaise recipes. I have a great quinoa salad from a great local cookbook which I will write up soon. PS. I insist on pronouncing it kwih-noah.


    1. Really anything + mayonnaise makes me wary. That’s not to say that some things can’t be good, but I’m wary.


Comments are closed.