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Dec 2, 2008 03:49 PM

Tell me about Quinoa

I have been a lurker for a bit and finally decided I needed to post because I am at a loss.

What is Quinoa and what would you use it for? I have read that it is a seed that can be substituted for pasta or rice but I am unfamiliar with the product and where to find it. I am in the Pacific Northwest so my first stop will likely be Trader Joes or Whole Foods but would love to hear if it is available more generally and cheaper.

Let me know your thoughts and opinions and even recipes for this product.


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  1. Hi. Welcome to Chowhound! This thread might give you some ideas to start:

    P.S. For local sources, you may want to post on your regional board (Pacific Northwest), but Whole Foods should definitely carry it, and health food stores are also often a good source.

    2 Replies
      1. re: MMRuth

        Trader Joes may have the best price - $3-4 / lb v. close to $9 at a local health food shop.

        The boxed version is prewashed; bulk may not be.

        It can be cooked much like rice, either plain or with typical pilaf style flavorings. It is done when the rings separate from grains. Boxes will have recipes, basic and fancy.

      2. Welcome!

        Quinoa acts like many grains that you tend to see in salads - bulgur, wheatberries, etc - but is actually the seeds of a plant related to chard, beets, and spinach. I love it; one of my favourite things to do in winter is make a big bowl of quinoa laced with whatever other veggies I have laying around, and eat it as a salad for lunch. Right now I've got wilted chard and pomegranate seeds with pomegranate vinaigrette; a couple of weeks ago it was roast peppers and onions with a mustard dressing.

        You should be able to find quinoa in the bulk section of any natural foods store.

        1. Trader Joe's quinoa cooked in chicken broth with some of their soycutash thrown in is one of my main backup foods. Very quick and surprisingly good. I use it often in place of rice, just served in smaller portions as it is high in protein and tends to fill you up quickly (learned this the hard way the first time I served a cup of it with a whole chicken breast... )

          1. I make quinoa corn chowder a lot --- it's delicious, fast, filling. I can't find the exact one I use, but this is an approximation:
            I use chicken stock, and mostly use milk, but if I have some coconut milk around, that makes a wonderful soup as well. There are threads on here about quinoa, as MMRuth posts. One hint I got from one of the threads I think is worth passing along: soak the quinoa in cold water for ten minutes or so before using. The box I have doesn't mention this, but one chowhound did, and I like the taste better if I do. Have fun!

            1 Reply
            1. re: BerkshireTsarina

              Tsarina, thank you for the quinoa corn chowder link. I used coconut milk, chicken broth and a diced yam (no white potatoes on hand). We had it for dinner last night and it was so good that I had to have some for breakfast!

            2. Quinoa is awesome! It acts like a grain. You can cook it in water or broth and even saute stuff and cook it along with the quinoa. I usually start off mixing things in and eating it warm, then adding dressing and eating it like a salad the next day.

              I love it cooked and mixed with chopped roasted vegetables and stuffed into tomato halves. My husband loves it with teriyaki sauce and cranberries. I undercook it a little bit so it's clumpy and use it as a base for stirfry.

              I usually get mine in bulk- and if you do make sure to rinse it well, otherwise it will have a weird biiter or soapy taste. Whole Foods sells boxes of it and they carry the regular and the red variety. The red kind is more burgundy-ish and has the same taste but IMHO is prettier.