Although quinoa is often lumped into the grain category, it is not a grain. Quinoa is a seed, complete protein, and comes in a variety of colors, such as white, red and black. It can be used in place of rice or pasta, and has many uses in the culinary world. Quinoa is so versatile that it can be eaten hot or cold, for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and either be the main star or just part of the meal. It can be enjoyed in soup or stew, with salad or sauce or eaten as- s in place of pasta.
Determine what type of pasta dish you would like to make. For pasta and sauce dishes, toss your choice of sauce with the quinoa at the last moment or top the quinoa with the finished sauce just before serving. Quinoa absorbs sauce more readily than pasta does. Make casserole dishes with quinoa but beware that it will act more like a bread than pasta when it is baked with liquid. However, quinoa still works well in casserole recipes. Cook the quinoa according to the package directions at the same time your recipe calls for cooking the pasta. Simmer the quinoa in vegetable or chicken broth for additional flavor.
Prepare quinoa ahead of time to make a “pasta” salad or add to a green salad. Cook your choice of quinoa according to the package directions. Let it cool, place it in an airtight container and refrigerate the quinoa to keep it cold for your pasta salad. Add the cooled quinoa to the rest of your pasta salad ingredients and combine well. Refrigerate the quinoa salad for up to four days. Enjoy cold cooked quinoa on top of your green salad drizzled with salad dressing.
Use leftover or freshly cooked quinoa instead of pasta in soups or stews. Add cooked quinoa to soup or stew at any time in the cooking process. Just like pasta, the longer quinoa sits in liquid, the more liquid it will absorb. Serve quinoa as a main dish, topped with a variety of sauteed vegetables. Season quinoa as you would pasta, with suggested ingredients such as salt, pepper, garlic or fresh herbs.
- Rinse quinoa before cooking to reduce bitterness.
- Leave the lid on the pot while quinoa is cooking and do not stir it; this will help create a fluffier end product.
- Drain quinoa when it is done cooking for a drier result.
- Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images