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diavolobella's avatar

What can you tell me about quinoa?

Asked by diavolobella (7920points) February 11th, 2013

I purchased some quinoa, but I’m not sure how to use it or what it tastes like. The package says to “wash the quinoa” first, but that is all it says. It doesn’t say how to wash it, why or how much washing is enough. Is it a pain in the neck to do that? Do I take it down the the river and beat it on a rock or do they just mean to rinse it well? Is it that good tasting? If it is not terrifically delicious, I’d rather just eat rice and save myself a lot of trouble. Your thoughts, please?

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48 Answers

janbb's avatar

I just threw a bag of it I bought out unused.

rojo's avatar

Place the Quinoa in a a Quinoa wash sack (a mesh delicates lingerie wash bag works just as well), Put it on the gentle cycle of your washer, add about ⅓ cup of genetically modified wash powder, set it on a cold/cold wash. Push the button, go get a beer and wham! 13 minutes later you are done.

If you want to dry it be sure to use the fluff cycle and DO NOT overdry! It will make it tough and rubbery

fundevogel's avatar

It looks nice but it didn’t impress me when I tried a few recipes. Especially considering the price.

SpatzieLover's avatar

You just put it in a pot, fill with water, then drain off the water. I used to buy the pre-rinsed, as it was easier.

When I was eating it, I preferred it warm, mixed with wild & brown rice and some chopped veggies.

If you’re gluten sensitive, beware, quinoa can cause the same reaction as gluten for some sensitive individuals.

diavolobella's avatar

@janbb I have a feeling the bag I bought is destined for the same fate, but that stuff is EXPENSIVE!

@SpatzieLover Thank you, that doesn’t sound too bad. I’m not gluten sensitive, but I am on an elimination diet per my personal trainer. I’ll try it tonight.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@diavolobella You can also make enough for a week ahead of time, as you would with rice. Many people prefer it in cold salads.

The different varieties have different types of ‘nutty’ taste.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

An ancient grain. The wild form was gathered 7,000 years ago, and it was successfully domesticated 4,000 years ago.

Very healthful. Quinoa’s packed with essential amino acids, iron, calcium, and phosphorus.

Yummy, slightly nutty flavor makes quinoa a good alternative to couscous or rice.

Cooks in just 10–15 minutes.

fundevogel's avatar

pushes up glasses

Actually quinoa is not a grain.

“Quinoa, a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium), is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a member of the true grass family. As a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beets, spinach and tumbleweeds.[1]

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@fundevogel Yes, quinoa is a seed, not a grain. Like all seeds, it’s a fruit.

Most people don’t know the difference between fruits (the reproductive parts of plants) and vegetables (the vegetative parts of plants, i.e. leaves, stems, and roots). Similarly, all sorts of things that get called “root vegetables” aren’t roots at all. I never argue.

A few years ago, and just for fun, I picked up an A.A. degree in Horticulture. I have no practical use, whatsoever, for the degree. I just really like making things grow and turning my backyard into the Garden of Eden.

zenvelo's avatar

I like to make a pilaf out of it. Nice not-too-strong nutty flavor, goes well cooked in broth, with onions and maybe some green peppers and mushrooms. Goes with beef and or fowl.

You can also cook with kale and after it is cooked and cools is a nice salad base.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@zenvelo Mmm…that sounds delicious. Care to share your recipe? I’m always looking for ways in which vegan-me can share a meal with my carnivorous husband.

Sunny2's avatar

Thank you for all the interesting answers. I’ve been curious about it too.

CWOTUS's avatar

I’m still trying to figure out @janbb‘s response.

janbb's avatar

@CWOTUS I had bought an expensive bag thinking it was something I should try to use and now, two years down the road, decided that quinoa was not happening for me. So that’s what I could tell the OP about it

Unbroken's avatar

I will add to Quinoa crowd. It is fabulous. If you want to rinse it even if is pre rinsed just put in a bowl and add water, swish and drain it, I usually just loosely drain it lazy me but a cheese cloth or some such would work just fine, refill with water to cook.

It is a nice switch from rice, actually I sometimes mix the two for variety and it is protein rich. As @SadieMartinPaul said it is nutrient dense.

Composition, functunality

mangeons's avatar

My dad actually made it for the first time ever tonight as part of our dinner. It was just organic plain quinoa, and he just cooked it in a pot of water with some scallions, parsley, and garlic, and we had it as a side dish with grilled chicken and butternut squash. It was alright, but a little bland for my taste. I’m hoping that if we actually make something out of it that I will like it better, it’s super healthy!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@mangeons That gave me an idea. It might go good with tomatoes with chilies in them, maybe a little hot sauce.

zenvelo's avatar

@SadieMartinPaul I am not vegan, so I use beef broth and I also use butter. But I saute onions and garlic in a skillet, then add the mushrooms, then stir in the quinoa, pour in broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes.

You could easily use olive oil and vegetable broth.

mangeons's avatar

@zenvelo I’d love to try it with green peppers and mushrooms, they’re two of my favorite foods! Do you find that they add a lot of flavor to the quinoa?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

This thread is making my mouth water. zenvelo that sounds so good.

gailcalled's avatar

I love the stuff. I put it in a strainer with a fine mesh and run cold water over it for several minutes. I always cook up several cups of the stuff, refrigerate it and add it to salads and soups all the time.

It is benign, does not have arsenic in it like rice does, and is a great cholesterol-free and low-fat source of protein for vegetarians and vegans.

Anything adds flavor to quinoa; alone it is not-much-to-write-home-about.

I also like it with dried cranberries, chopped walnuts and diced celery with a light vinaigrette.

zenvelo's avatar

@mangeons Yes, they do add flavor! Bon appetit!

Jeruba's avatar

I love it. I’ve had some wonderful salads made with red quinoa. I also think its little curlicues are adorable.

But I don’t use it as often as I’d like because of the rinsing requirement. I found rinsing it with cheesecloth a real pain because it clings to the cloth. It also ran through the mesh of my strainer. I’d like to know a better way that doesn’t result in pouring half of the quinoa into the sink or having to scrape it bit by bit off a cloth with a spoon.

gailcalled's avatar

Just buy a strainer with a finer mesh. They’re cheap. $3.32 + shipping & handling.

(Here’s one, if you can believe it, for $171)

Shippy's avatar

I normally strain it with running water for a while. I put in a pot and lightly simmer for about 15 minutes. Adding stock helps with the flavor but I look for low sodium varieties or make my own.

In a separate pan, I use peanut oil, or olive oil, add finely chopped onions, green and yellow peppers, perhaps a full clove of garlic and glaze. Then I add this to the quinoa. It is tasty served with steak, or any protein of additional vegetable dish.

CWOTUS's avatar

Yeah, @gailcalled, but that’s probably built to MilSpec for the Department of Defense.

diavolobella's avatar

Thanks everyone!

gailcalled's avatar

@CWOTUS:Lol. It helps to read carefully. Apparently, that link is for a wholesale lot of many dozens.

fundevogel's avatar

@SadieMartinPaul “Yes, quinoa is a seed, not a grain. Like all seeds, it’s a fruit.”

seed – A flowering plant’s unit of reproduction, capable of developing into another such plant

fruit – The sweet and fleshy product of a tree or other plant that contains seed and can be eaten as food

A do not have a degree in horticulture, and I could be very wrong about the specialized vocabulary of botany. But. It seems to me that quinoa comes from a plant with no fruit involvement whatsoever. Nothing I would name a fruit anyway. And unless I’m using an awful lot of words incorrectly I can think of many seeds that are neither fruits nor associated with fruit bearing plants. Sunflower seeds, mustard seeds, dandelion seeds, maple seeds and so on.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@fundevogel To be technical, a seed is a plant embryo. (Yeah…I didn’t think that would sound very appealing!) A quinoa plant flowers and then bears what you’d think of as fruit in panicles. The fruit is tiny, about 2 mm in diameter.

The term “fruit” is used for the reproductive parts of a plant—flowers, fruits (can be fleshy or dry), and seeds.

The study of Horticulture can quickly turn one into Cliff Claven from “Cheers.” Didja know that a strawberry isn’t a berry, but that bananas and oranges are berries? Didja know that ginger root isn’t a root at all, but a rhizome? How much more boring can I possibly be? :-)

Brian1946's avatar


To be technical, a seed is a plant embryo.

Is there a point where it becomes a plant fetus?

Kardamom's avatar

One of the best things about quinoa is that it is one of the most valuable comlete proteins, as is soy, for a vegetarian diet. Most vegetables only contain part of the entire sequence of amino acids, so you have to eat more than one type in a day to get a complete protein, like the proverbial beans and rice. With quinoa and soy, you get everything you need with one stop shopping.

It’s also quite yummy. My cousin brought a cool Quinoa Salad with a Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette to our Mexican themed 4th of July potluck. It was the hit of the party.

This is why you need to Wash quinoa before cooking, and other info about quinoa. All you have to do is put the quinoa in a net strainer or colander and rinse it under cool water for 30 seconds or so maybe swish it around a little bit, to get the coating off of it.

The other nice thing about quinoa, because it is a seed and not a grain, is that is does not contain gluten, which can be a problem for a small segment of the population, those with a gluten intolerance and those with celiac disease.

Here’s some potential recipes for you to try if you want to give it a go:

Quinoa with Avocado and Black Beans

Curried Quinoa Wrap

Southwestern Quinoa Wraps with Chipotle Yogurt Sauce

Mango Blueberry Quinoa Salad with Basil Orange Marmalade Dressing

Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Dates and Oranges

Vegetarian Chili with Quinoa and Sweet Potatoes

Quinoa Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Pinenuts and Raisins

Pesto Quinoa and Spinach Quiche

Cheesy Broccoli and Quinoa Casserole

Baked Chiles Rellenos with Quinoa

Quinoa Minestrone Soup

Quinoa Salad with Avocados, Cucumbers and Radishes with a Cumin Lime Dressing

Cucumber Cups with Quinoa Appetizer

Roasted Beet Salad with Quinoa and Goat Cheese

Spiced Indian-style Quinoa

Edamame Quinoa Lettuce Wraps with Soy Garlic Chili Sauce

Quinoa and Vegetable Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Anyone up for some lunch? I’ll be down in the basement kitchen. If you haven’t heard, the mansion just installed one, just like the one on Downton Abbey

mangeons's avatar

@Jeruba My dad had the same problem! Since we don’t have a strainer, I think he was just trying to rinse it in a saucepan… as you can imagine, a bunch of it ended up in the sink.

janbb's avatar

Now I feel a bit sorry I threw that bag out.

gailcalled's avatar

@Kardamom: Another nice addition to your quinoa/ cilantro-lime vinaigrette is a diced, ripe mango and a bit of poblano. The mango marries surprisingly well with the garlic.

Unbroken's avatar

Thanks for the share @Kardamom one of my favorites is Quinoa stuffed bell peppers.

Seek's avatar

Quinoa with pistachios, stuffed inside acorn squash. Tastes like autumn and love. Seriously.

fundevogel's avatar

@SadieMartinPaul Thanks for the info :)

augustlan's avatar

I’ve been lurking on this Q, and am amazed by how much I learned from it. You jellies rock my world.

diavolobella's avatar

I still haven’t opened my quinoa (don’t have anything proper to strain it with), but I will definitely try it out this weekend. Thanks again for all the great answers and recipes!

Kardamom's avatar

@diavolobella I bet you could line a mesh strainer with a coffee filter to strain the quinoa so you don’t lose any of it.

diavolobella's avatar

@Kardamom I don’t have a mesh strainer. That’s what I mean. :)

zensky's avatar

Well, you have until the weekend to buy one.

diavolobella's avatar

the weekend is when I’ll be able to buy one. Payday is tomorrow

Unbroken's avatar

It was a good idea at any rate @Kardamom never really occurred to me thank you.

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