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Are You Keen On Quinoa?

Posted on: October 10, 2010

Recently I took a quinoa-based dish to a lunch potluck, and while the ladies loved it, many of them had never tried quinoa before. Maybe you’ve tried this protein-rich grain, or maybe you’ve been meaning to try it

Quinoa (KEEN-wah) is native to the Andes mountains. What makes this grain special is that it’s higher in protein than other grains. That makes it great for vegetarians (and, also a great meat substitute for those of us who are omnivores). It has a slight nutty flavor, and can also be lightly toasted before cooking to increase the nuttiness. Be sure, however, to rinse your quinoa in a strainer before you use it: there is a natural soapy-flavored compound on the outside of the grains. The manufacturer does a good job rinsing it off before sending the quinoa to the stores, but it’s a good idea to give your grains a final rinse, to assure that your dish will taste good.

Quinoa cooks up quickly, in a ratio of about two parts liquid (water or broth) to one part quinoa. Most commonly, it serves as the base in pilafs or salads, such as this recipe that I enjoy. I also like keeping cold cooked quinoa (cooked in water) in my fridge, which I heat up in the microwave for breakfast cereal. I then add a bit of milk, sweetener of choice (maple syrup, usually), cinnamon, and dried cranberries. Just like oatmeal, but with the added dose of extra protein (and variety, too)!

What’s your favorite quinoa recipe? I’d love to hear it!

4 Responses to "Are You Keen On Quinoa?"

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad
Original recipe w/my minor edits as a note I’m not big on measuring!


1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed if canned
1 1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups cooked corn (cut from about 2 large ears)
3/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper (I use red, yellow or orange pepper or combo of)
2 pickled jalapeño chilies, seeded and minced (wear rubber gloves) (I’ve used pickled but have also used fresh)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh coriander

For dressing
5 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin, or to taste
1/3 cup olive oil


In a bowl wash quinoa in at least 5 changes cold water, rubbing grains and letting them settle before pouring off most of water, until water runs clear and drain in a large fine sieve.
In a saucepan of salted boiling water cook quinoa 10 minutes. Drain quinoa in sieve and rinse under cold water. Set sieve over a saucepan of boiling water (quinoa should not touch water) and steam quinoa, covered with a kitchen towel and lid, until fluffy and dry, about 10 minutes (check water level in kettle occasionally, adding water if necessary).
While quinoa is cooking, in a small bowl toss beans with vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer quinoa to a large bowl and cool. Add beans, corn, bell pepper, jalapeños, and coriander and toss well.
Make dressing:
In a small bowl whisk together lime juice, salt, and cumin and add oil in a stream, whisking.
Drizzle dressing over salad and toss well with salt and pepper to taste. Salad may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring salad to room temperature before serving.


Awesome, Susan, thanks! 🙂 I’ll be making that soon! I’ve never tried steaming my quinoa; I bet it makes it really fluffy!

(I’ll admit that I’m not big on measuring, either! 😉 )

I love quinoa! So glad I discovered it on that United flight.

Ah yes, with lemon juice, smoked salmon, and green onions (yep, I still remember, years ago!)

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