Learn About Quinoa

Author: Chef Sydney

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What is Quinoa?

Quinoa is an edible seed from a flowering plant.  While quinoa is a seed, it is normally classified as a whole grain.  Raw quinoa is hard, similar to dry rice, small, round, and comes in a variety of colors.  Common varieties of quinoa include red, white, and black.  When cooked, red quinoa is usually chewy, black quinoa is slightly crunchy, and white quinoa is fluffy.  Quinoa usually comes in the form of its seeds, but it is also found as flakes and flour.

What Does Quinoa Taste Like?

The different varieties of quinoa have different flavors.  Generally, quinoa has a nutty taste.  White quinoa is mild in flavor.  Red quinoa has more richness than white quinoa.  Black quinoa has a slightly sweet taste.

Learn About Quinoa
Mixed quinoa grains spilling out of a wooden scoop.

How Do You Eat Quinoa?

Quinoa can be eaten raw or cooked, but it is most often eaten cooked.  Quinoa is frequently used as a substitution for rice because it also takes on the flavor of what it is cooked with.  Salads, tacos, and skillet dishes often incorporate quinoa.  Quinoa is used in shrimp and shrimp dishes, curries, and is mixed with beans.  It is often paired with lemon or garlic for flavoring.  

Where Can You Buy Quinoa?

Look for quinoa in the pasta and grains aisle of the grocery store.  It is also found in the health food aisle.  Quinoa flakes and flour are usually found in the health food aisle of the grocery store or a health food store.

How Do You Store Quinoa?

Store quinoa in a sealed, airtight container in a cool, dry place.  Cooked quinoa should be placed in a sealed, airtight container in the refrigerator and will usually last 3-5 days, but may last longer.

Fun Fact About Quinoa

The Incas ate quinoa thousands of years ago.

Did You Know?

Quinoa is classified as an ancient grain.

Recipes Using Quinoa

Easy Cooked Quinoa

Enjoy as simple side dish of plain quinoa. Rinse uncooked quinoa before cooking. Then, add quinoa and water to a saucepan and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer until all of the liquid evaporates. Remove the quinoa from heat and set aside for about 5 minutes. Add fresh herbs or seasonings before serving.

Quinoa Salad

Begin by cooking quinoa until the liquid evaporates. Allow the quinoa to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before using. Then, in a large bowl, combine red onion, roasted red peppers, feta, cucumber, and grape tomatoes. Make a vinaigrette with olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, fresh oregano, and fresh parsley. Combine quinoa with salad ingredients, then toss salad with the vinaigrette. Chill before serving.

Quinoa Vegetable Soup

Create a hearty meal by adding quinoa to your vegetable soup. Start by sauteing onions, celery, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and carrots in a stock pot until soft. Add quinoa, vegetable broth, water, canned tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano, and thyme. Simmer mixture until the soup thickens and the vegetables soften.

Beans and Quinoa

Make a side dish that tastes delicious. Soften onions and garlic in a saucepan. Add quinoa, vegetable broth, salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Cook until the liquid evaporates. Add corn, black beans, and cilantro. Top with queso fresco.


Use uncooked quinoa to create delicious, crunchy granola. In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, rolled oats, shredded coconut, and chopped almonds. Then, mix maple syrup mixture with the oat mixture. Spread granola over a baking sheet and bake.

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