Hey Quinoa, I’m super keen on you

My dear friend Quinoa and I are best buds. He’s been good to me in times of shitiness, like when I had a huge fight with gluten and wheat and my doctor told me it was best to avoid them for a while until things calmed down. I’m still waiting for the dust to settle with those two, and while I sometimes attempt to make friends with them again, they remind me that they still hate my guts (quite literally) and that I really need to get over it and move on.

So, I have. With Quinoa. Like me, Quinoa has a name that people have trouble spelling. And pronouncing. If you’re saying it phonetically, he’s going to get upset, so let me give you the heads up. It’s pronounced keen-waa and he’s from the goosefoot family which makes me love him even more. Seriously. Goosefoot, I’m dying. He’s also closely related to tumbleweeds and spinach and beets, and has been hailed as a SUPERFOOD for his insane levels of protein and general awesomeness.

It’s the seeds of the Quinoa that are the most delightful to eat (is it weird that a minute ago he was my friend and kind of human and now I’m eating him? Hmm, figured as much) and often found in salads, or even a breakfast porridge. As it’s a grain, and a gluten-free one at that, it’s a wonderful supplement for wheat and can be compared to rice and couscous if you’ve never even seen it before.

The funny thing is, Quinoa has never really been embraced by Western diets. Thanks to wheat stealing all the attention and being credited for its convenience and packed into bread, pasta, cakes and so on, Quinoa has been stuffed in a sack for years. This bothers me greatly, Happy’s, as it’s a really versatile grain that is tasty, healthy and super easy to make. In fact, it’s exactly the same method as rice. Too easy.

My favourite use for Quinoa is to make it as a pilaf and serve it on the side of a BBQ feast. All I do is brown some onion, add a fair amount of Moroccan seasoning with a splash of extra paprika for colour and then throw the Quinoa into the pot. Toss it a little so that each ‘seed’ is coated in the seasoning, before adding twice the amount of water to grain. So, 1 cup of Quinoa to 2 cups of water or stock. Then, I let it come to the boil, turn it right down and let it simmer until the seeds open up and soften.

Once it’s cooked, pour the pilaf into a big bowl and stir through some cold pressed olive oil and garnish with freshly chopped parsley and sesame seeds. Deee-licious!

If you’ve cooked it right it should look like this…

If you’ve ballsed it, it might look like this…

Eww, he would never look like that. Only Spam would.

Tell me…

Have you tried Quinoa?

Do you love him too?





  1. hollyjcurtis · November 3, 2010

    Oh, Yaz I’m so with you! LOVE Quinoa, my fave is a roast vegie salad with Quinoa, lemon juice, olive oil and balsamic. Deeelishhh.

  2. ponikuta · November 3, 2010

    Believe it or not there’s a BBQ this weekend for us. Definitely gonna give your recipe a spin. Update with pics! x

  3. Bec · November 3, 2010

    I love quinoa, apple and cinnamon porridge. And I use quinoa flakes to make these awesome Breakfast Brownies. Sarah Wilson’s blog has some great tips for utilising quinoa and other gluten-free grains. Apparently, it needs to be rinsed thoroughly before cooking because it has a naturally occurring toxic, bitter coating. And another cool idea is to cook it in a huge batch and freeze portions to cut down prep time.

  4. Squee · November 3, 2010

    I too heart the quinoa. We had a rocky start at the market when I pronounced him phonetically… cringe! But now I’m down with it (they also now have a sign up for all the slightly misguided people). I serve him with almost everything – curry, stirfry, salad, breakfast… Plus, he’s much easier to cook than potentially lumpy cous cous! Winner!

  5. crystaldance · November 4, 2010

    I’ve had the elusive quinoa sitting in my cupboard for AGES. I’ve been wanting to pull it out but I’ve always been slightly… unsure… of how to proceed.

    After reading this though Yaz, I’m throwing caution to the wind! Bugger it! Let’s make QUINOA! 😀

  6. Lauren · November 4, 2010

    Yaz, I love quinoa too! I discovered it on a trip to South America when doing the Inca trail- the porters put it in this yummy, soupy-broth which was soooo tasty considering they made it in a tent on the side of a cliff!

  7. Zoe · November 4, 2010

    Oh my gosh, I’ve been pronouncing it phonetically (in my head – never had opportunity to say it out loud)! Silly me. Ta for filling me in 🙂

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