Sunday, March 20, 2011

Grains Three Ways: Quinoa

Quinoa is a grain (actually, according to Wikipedia, it is "grain-like") with an interesting history. It is very high in protein, and is apparently very close to a complete protein for humans, and appears to be low on the Glycemic Index for those who pay attention to that.

Uncooked quinoa is very small-grained, looking a bit like couscous (which is a pasta rather than a grain.) Cooked, it has a mild, nutty taste, and I read that it can be substituted for rice in many recipes.

As it comes off the plant, quinoa in covered with a bitter-tasting substance which must be washed off. When I first experimented with quinoa, I found that washing it is a total pain, so I'm glad that most quinoa is now sold pre-washed. (But, if you choose to try quinoa, which I encourage, check the package to make sure it's pre-washed.)

The first way I cooked quinoa was to do it in my rice cooker, using chicken stock as a cooking liquid. It was okay, but a little uninspiring. A few tablespoons on a plate as a side dish would be fine.

The second quinoa recipe I made was Quinoa with Tofu and Asparagus. (I used chicken stock rather than vegetable stock.) I liked the basic method of throwing some quick-cook veg on top of a cooking grain shortly before it's done, but this particular dish was too lemony for my taste. You may also note that the recipe doesn't call for any salt to be added: for me, the end product was almost inedible before salting.

My third dish was Fiesta Quinoa Salad. This was quite good. The friend I shared it with thought that a little more olive oil might be good, and I'd be tempted to add some tomato.

Next grain in the project: bulgur.

(This is the second grain covered in my "Grains Three Ways" project, described here. You can see my post on pearled barley here.)


  1. Mmmmmm, I'm a fan of quinoa. That second recipe sounds really good to me. I love lemon, so that didn't scare me off. I'd probably add salt (yay salt!!) and also leave out the tofu. (Picky eater alert!!)

  2. Love quinoa...Thanks for posting the recipes!

  3. The tofu and asparagus dish sounds delicious!


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T Minus Two by Bob Pedersen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.