Tuesday’s Recipe: 20 Shades of Quinoa

 With 50 Shades of Gray coming up this weekend, I thought I’d add my $.02 in on torture:


Quinoa can definitely be an instrument of torture.  If you have had a lump of quinoa served to you at any time, you understand that it can be soggy, mushy, gray, weird, bland and grainy.  There ain’t nothin’ good about poorly served quinoa.


If you insist on treating it like rice, you will have a bad time.


However…if you treat it as a blank canvas of foods, you will see the wide spectrum of possibilities quinoa has!  Stop forcing it into little bento boxes of conformity.  Start cooking quinoa with the respect it deserves: especially with smoked gouda and roasted tomatoes. (omg)

So this weekend, surprise your loved ones by blindfolding them, tying them to a chair and serving them actually good dishes of quinoa!


Quinoa (prounounced keen-wa) (link) was a staple food for the South American Indians living in the high altitudes of the Andes Mountains. It was immensely popular because it was one of few crops that could survive in such high altitudes (10,000 – 20,000 feet above sea level). It could withstand frost, intense sun and the often dry conditions that characterized the Andean climate. It was also recognized for its superior nutritional qualities. For these reasons, it was dubbed “mother of all grains” by the Incas, so much so that it came to have spiritual significance for them. Many traditions and ceremonies surrounded the cultivation, harvest and consumption of quinoa.

Quinoa is a “pseudo-grain”—actually a gluten-free seed, but used in cooking like a whole grain. This nutrient-rich grain is a wonderful source of complete protein, providing all of the essential amino acids. It is also a good source of dietary fiber. Naturally gluten free, this powerful little grain is a great addition to any diet, but is an ideal solution for those following a gluten free, vegan or vegetarian diet that are looking to increase their protein and fiber.


It is like rice, but it isn’t rice.


To begin, here is the easy how-to on quinoa cooking:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water in a medium saucepan.
  • Bring it to a boil, then put a lid on top and turn the heat to low
  • simmer until quinoa is tender  (this will take about 15 minutes)
  • Listen: quinoa retains water like crazy, so make sure you drain it completely after it is done


Now that you have quinoa, here are 20 ideas of what to do with quinoa!

  1. Quinoa in taco meat
  2. Quinoa in salads
  3. Quinoa with stewed tomatoes, parsley and gouda
  4. Quinoa with baked garlic and stewed tomatoes
  5. Quinoa with steamed carrots, peas paprika and cilantro
  6. Quinoa with salsa and chicken
  7. Quinoa with garlic/paprika seasoned roasted corn
  8. Quinoa with roasted garlic eggplant and tomato slices, with melted pepper jack cheese
  9. Quinoa burgers (just add an egg, herbs/spices and some parm. cheese, form them into patties and fry them in oil.)
  10. Add Quinoa to soup instead of beans, lentils, rice or noodles
  11. Add Quinoa to stews for extra protein
  12. Quinoa salad – quinoa, corn, tomatoes, avocado, green onions
  13. Black beans, Quinoa, corn, tomatoes, cilantro
  14. Stewed lentils, Quinoa, stewed tomatoes, cumin
  15. Quinoa pudding (like rice pudding)
  16. Quinoa with steamed garlic broccoli and hollandaise sauce
  17. Quinoa stuffed acorn squash with sausage
  18. Quinoa bake: have a layer of quinoa on a casserole dish, layer citrus and honey chicken (or fish!) on top and bake
  19. Quinoa stuffed bell pepper with carnitas
  20. Quinoa mixed into a curry

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