Ingredient Spotlight – Quinoa

I get asked about some of the ingredients in my recipes from time to time. Mainly from my mom.  I’m starting a new series of posts focusing on some of the slightly less common ingredients that tend to show up in my recipes and make a home in my kitchen.

  • Please send me an email (thelivelykitchen{at}gmail{dot}com) or leave a comment if there are some ingredients you’d like me to write about.  

Ingredient Spotlight

Ingredient: Quinoa


How do you pronounce it?  Keen-wah.  Not ‘key-no-nah’ as my mom likes to say.  (hi mom!)

What is it? An edible seed from South America.

Where do you find it at the store? It’s usually by the rice.  Sometimes it may be in the gluten-free section and sometimes with the ‘speciality’ grains like barley and amaranth.  It’s often sold in bulk bins too.  I buy most of my quinoa at Costco, as they sell at 3lb bag of Organic Quinoa for $10, which is the best price I’ve seen.

How much does it cost?  Usually around $4-5 a pound.  Costco often carries it for $10/3lbs.  In bulk bins it’s usually around $4/lb.

How do you cook it?  You rinse it, add it to water, bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Jenn at Peas and Crayons just did a fabulous post on cooking quinoa, so rather than re-invent the wheel, I’ll just link to it here.

What does it taste like it?  Like a slightly nutty rice.  It’s texture is like a chewier cous-cous.  Like most grains, it’s quite versatile and takes on the flavor of whatever it’s cooked with.

What’s so great about it?  Where to start?  1. It’s pretty cheap.  2.  It’s got a good amount of protein, iron, fiber and b vitamins.  3.  It’s gluten free  4.  It cooks quickly and keeps well in the fridge for a few days. 5. It’s good cold and hot.

Will kids and/or husbands eat it?  Most likely.  My kids like it plain or tossed with a little butter or olive oil.  We eat it at least once a week.

Some of my favorite quinoa recipes from this blog:

Fall Quinoa with Roasted Butternut Squash and Onions – if you like roasted butternut squash, you’ll love this recipe.

Curried Quinoa with Chickpeas and Apples – my personal favorite quinoa dish.  No one else in my family likes curry, so I get to eat the whole recipe myself.  Not a bad fate.

 Quinoa with Salsa and Black Beans – This is the first recipe I ever made with quinoa and I’ve been making it often for the last four years.  The flavors are very familiar and, if you like Tex-Mex style dishes, this is a great first time quinoa recipe.  It’s good as is, or used as a taco or burrito filler.  We  also eat it over salad greens with crushed tortilla chips.

Caramelized Onion Quinoa with Toasted Nuts and Seeds – this is one of my husband’s favorite dinners (sans the nuts and seed topping).

Other quinoa recipes I enjoy:

Quinoa Cakes from A Nutritionist Eats.  These somehow taste almost like hash browns.  I made them for my 21 year old brother-in-law and he ate the entire recipe in one sitting. A fantastic way to use up leftover quinoa.

Zucchini Quinoa Lasagne from Peas and Thank You.  I made this every couple of weeks in the summer when zucchini was abundant.  I use dairy cream cheese, but otherwise follow the recipe exactly.  My husband and kids like it too.

Are you a quinoa fan?  If so, please share a recipe!

Next ingredient: Kombu