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Help me like Quinoa

just cooked up some for the first time, it tastes like bland grit. Even with some salt. Any suggestions? I keep hearing how healthy it is but ......

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    1. The only success I've had was to add lots of pesto. Subtle spicing, adding lemon zest, etc were insufficient.

      1. Hmm.. I've made it a few times since starting a gluten-free diet and have really liked it. I enjoy the texture, but then I had to experiment with the cooking time to get it right. I make it real simple by throwing in a cinnamon stick or two in with the cooking water and then adding chopped pecans and dried cranberries to the cooked quinoa. It's simple, but to me not bland. Then again, I don't like strong flavors in the morning. I eat this for breakfast most days as a substitute for cereal or oatmeal. If you like things sweet, a touch of honey would probably be pleasing.

        Not sure how I would prepare quinoa as a side with dinner or lunch. I think following a favored couscous recipe would be be a good place to start.

        1. Hi,

          I am making my new year's resolution to get more whole grains into my diet. I bought some various kinds from Bob's Red Mill. While looking through their website, I found my way to the website for the chef who writes all the recipes that go on the back of their packages. Her name is Lorna Sass. I bought her newest cookbook, called "Whole Grains , Every Day, Every Way." It's a great book, because it goes into great detail about all the different whole grains, and how best to cook each one.

          The other nice thing about her recipes, is that for each one, she gives advice on making substitutions of ingredients. For example, if the main ingredient in a recipe is bulghur wheat, she might say to substitute wheat berries and increase the broth by 1 cup and cooking time by 20 minutes. So, if you decide you don't like Quinoa, but like the recipe itself, you could substitute another grain.

          So far, I've made three recipes from the book, and all were delicious. One of the ones I made was her Quinoa Salad with Tempeh Adobo Nuggets and Lime-Shoyu Vinaigrette. It's one of the sample recipes on her website, so you can check it out for yourself before you commit to buying the book (that's what I did, actually). She also has another Quinoa recipe on the website, for a Amaranth, Quinoa, and Corn Chowder, which looks good too.

          FYI, if you decide to order the cookbook, it's also available on Amazon. The ones through her website are signed, and a bit more expensive.


          1. What are reasons to buy it? To cut fat is my answer and to eat less AP flour increase fiber. So for a pretty basic way to make it, I first thought about using it in a salad. The same way I would use orzo or rice. Room temperature.

            I just bought, some it looks like a nice grain but something on the package read that should be rinsed well or it will taste "soapy".... Another recipe on the internet claims you can grind it and make a "flour" out of it for baking. hmmm.

            1. You need to salt the water or use broth (better) when you cook it. Another hint is to rinse it really well before cooking or else it will soap up a bit. I like to serve it with sauteed broccoli rabe and top it with shaved parmesan cheese.


              1. This recipe for a southwest salad always gets rave reviews. I have it on my list to try but haven't yet

                1. Toast it! It's so much better toasted, it gets such a lovely nutty flavor.

                  Just add it to a pan on medium heat and stir it around for about 10 minutes until it crackles, turns golden and smells toasty. Then rinse well and cook in boiling salted water (or stock).

                  I like to make quinoa "tabbouleh." Especially with toasted quinoa.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: atomic

                    Yeah- one of our two major ways to prepare it is what we call "quinoa salad", but it really is just tabbouleh with the one substitution.

                    The other is really simple, but also nice, when we want it served warm. It is cooked in chicken stock, and then some toasted pine nuts and green raisins are added. The flavors work well together and it gives the quinoa just a slight bit of variation in flavor and texture.

                    1. re: atomic

                      Ditto on toasting. I like quinoa, but toasting it makes it so much better.

                    2. could try these:



                      I love quinoa.......it took me a couple of tries to get over it's look of birdseed, but i find it nutty, and it has a lot of protein compared to other grains i think.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: im_nomad

                        It is the only grain that is a complete protien! In fact, legumes can't even claim that.

                        This means that, unilke beans or brown rice, you don't have to pair it with another food to complete the amino acid chain.

                        The only non-meat or fish food that is a perfect meat/fish replacer!

                        1. re: Diana

                          Unless I'm mistaken, soybeans are also a complete protein. I think quinoa and soybeans are the only two in existence.

                          1. re: Diana

                            Actually, Amaranth is also a complete protein. I believe that soy and buckwheat are as well.

                            Also, the idea that you need to combine protein sources in one meal is no longer currently accepted. As long as the various sources are eaten within a day or two of each other, the body can still make a complete protein out of them.

                            1. re: mwk

                              You don't net to combine protien sources. You need to eat other foods to complete thge amino acid chain.

                              You're right about soy, pretty much. But there are indications that huge concentrated amounts of soy could lead to health issues. It is inconclusive, however, more studies must be done. I was thinking of grain sources, though...

                              Amaranth is a complete protien, I found when looking. Apparently, buckwheat is, too. Nutritional yeat also provides a complete protien, but no one eats that in enough bulk to help.

                        2. I love this quinoa salad from Deborah Madison's "The Savory Way"; it has lots of flavor, with dried apricots, pine nuts, and red pepper (recipe calls for yellow and green but I always use red). It's great to have with dinner, and then use the leftovers for lunch the next day.


                          1. You should apply one of the universal rules of life to this problem:

                            "The best way to make a healthy food taste great is to add lots of unhealthy things to it"

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: MIKELOCK34

                              lol Mike

                              thanks everyone for the suggestions. I also thought it was a good plan to eat more wholegrains, so this was my first try with it. I used it in place of rice with some homemade meatballs and it did improve when it soaked up the sauce.

                              1. re: smartie

                                I'm doing much the same thing as we speak. I put it in a meatloaf with ground lamb and various spices (this time fresh mint, cinnamon, moroccan pepper, mmmm. . . can't wait for dinner). I've done this before and it's a great way to cut the meat, give the loaf a good texture, and get some whole grains.

                                1. re: oralfixation

                                  good plan to put it in meatloaf thanks.

                            2. My favorite way to cook it is like a risotto...for either sweet or savory dishes. I use quinoa in a roasted red pepper and chicken sausage "risotto" using the same technique with chicken or veggie broth. For me, it seemed very similar, maybe even less, to that of making it with rice. Just add veggies/meat/cheese near the end. My exboyfriend adored it, even though he'd never had quinoa. Comes out really creamy.

                              I also would use apple cider to make a porridge style breakfast "risotto", and serve with lots of cinnamon, apple slices and walnuts.

                              1. Add lots of vegetables and top it with plenty of lemon-tahini sauce!

                                1. One really simple thing to do with cooked quinoa is to mix in some chopped onions that you've sauteed very slowly in butter/olive oil, with a touch of salt. So simple, and so good.

                                  1. I should have said "caramelized" onions, not just sauteed.

                                    1. Deborah Madison has a great quinoa soup in "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone." It's South American-inspired and has potatoes, scallions, and feta along with the quinoa, and is really excellent.

                                      1. Wash well, salt well, and don't overcook! I find that most recipes suggest cooking times that are much too long. Start tasting at the half way point and cool quickly. I like it with pistachios, dried cherries, lemon zest, and mint.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: JudiAU

                                          Exactly as Judy AU says... I am very fond of this lemon scented Quinoa recipe from the Nov. 2007 Gourmet: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo....

                                          I have adapted the recipe using limes, and substituted for couscous in middle-easternish dishes as discussed here.

                                          Good luck!

                                        2. My favorite quinoa recipe that was a big seller at a gourmet cafe where I worked was:

                                          Quinoa - cook in broth - beef is best flavor
                                          Caramelized onions - deglaze pan with a little balsamic vinegar
                                          Roasted green beans
                                          Extra drizzle of olive oil when done
                                          Fresh ground pepper

                                          my blog http://www.dinnersforayear.blogspot.com

                                          1. i usually just put some toasted sesame oil & a little soy sauce on it.
                                            You can even fry it like fried rice with veggies.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: monalisawoman

                                              That sounds so simple and delicious!

                                              1. re: Diana

                                                Quinoa was discussed very recently on Chow. Here is the post for it,
                                                www.chowhound.com/topics/469041. Hope it helps.

                                            2. I find that sometimes I like to have my grains (couscous, amaranth, quinoa) with a few spoonfuls of homemade marinara sauce. I sometimes use my grains in the same way I would use my pasta's. The grains love sauces and complement many meals. I also love to add some frozen peas to mine. They sweenten it up some and make for great eats.

                                              1. it was a while ago, but i made a very successful quinoa dish w/ pistachios, dates, shallots (?), some nutmeg, and olive oil...there may have been one more ingredient that i'm forgetting...i served it as a side dish at dinner...i forget what the main course was but it might have been lamb...the point is that the nuts/dried-fruit/nutmeg accents the natural nuttiness and sweetness of the quinoa...

                                                1. Consider adding some Vogue Veggie Base or salsa.

                                                  1. I like quinoa, and like many of the posters, I use for salad. I hit a good one the last time I made it and it went something like this:

                                                    Saute shallot, garlic, shredded carrot and ginger
                                                    Added raw red pepper
                                                    Fresh pineapple that I marinated in fresh lime juice with rind, honey, ginger and Absolute Vanilla for a few hours

                                                    When I do grain salads, I really like the combination of warm and cold ingredients, and the walnut pieces added a nice texture as well. I made a dressing to go with it, but it would have overwhelmed the flavors so I ended up leaving it off. Anyway, maybe this will give you some ideas for your quinoa!

                                                    1. There's a great recipe for Quinoa and wild rice salad with citrus vinagrette in "Southwest Vegetarian" by Stephen Pyles (not completely sure about the author's name).

                                                      1. The first time I ever had quinoa, somebody made this jambalaya and it's still my go-to recipe. He served it with a cool cucumber or dill yogurt sauce to cut the heat though I've never done that. This is delicious and a good way to start out with quinoa:


                                                        1. 1. Definitely toast it (then rinse)
                                                          2. Always cook it in broth, never water

                                                          I make a lot of quinoa, but agree it needs to be spiced up or it'll be very very bland. I like to put it in soups since it adds protein, thickens it up and absorbs the soup-y flavor.

                                                          Quinoa Cake with asparagus and bacon bits (go heavy on the cheese in the cake): http://www.bitchincamero.com/mel/2008...

                                                          Red Lentils & Quinoa: http://www.bitchincamero.com/mel/2008...

                                                          Quinoa-stuffed peppers: http://www.bitchincamero.com/mel/2007...