Afraid of Quinoa no more!

Some years ago I attempted to cook quinoa.  Apparently I did something wrong and that attempt has forever been known in my house as “the time mom tried to make us eat alien eggs.”  So I have avoided cooking with it.  I love quinoa flakes, and use them in baking pretty frequently but I have been afraid to try the grain.  With T being allergic to wheat, though, I keep coming back to the fact that it would open up some possibilities if we like the grain.

Saturday we had some friends over for a casual dinner.  The friends took our kids (and theirs) to an art show about 45 minutes away while Mark and I stayed home and worked outside.  So we figured that, since they had our kids all day, the least we could do was make them dinner.  There was to be some grilling of things, but I didn’t want to eat anything grilled so I opted to make cold salads.  As usual with me, I looked through my pantry to see what I could find.  A box of kamut spaghetti noodles (not gluten free) was found so I made my old standy-by, peanut noodles.  (And by the way, I double the sauce.)  These friends have had the peanut noodles many times before.  (So many times that when I texted and asked if they wanted to come to dinner they said they didn’t want to put us out.  So I texted back “I’m making peanut noodles.  Will that sway you?”  The response was “Well.  Yes.”)

I also found a box of organic quinoa.  So I sat it on the counter and stared at it, wondering what I could do with it.  I did some internet searches for recipes and settled on mixing a few things up to make my own.  Then I needed to actually cook the grain.  I remembered someone saying that they cooked their quinoa in the rice cooker so I decided to try that out.  Actually, I put the stuff in the rice cooker and turned it on, and then went outside to clean out and turn over the vegetable garden!  After I was done and showered I assembled the salad and put it in the fridge to chill.

This makes a lot of salad.  So much that I assumed I would have extra to take to a Mother’s Day brunch on Sunday.  But when it came time to clean up one of my friends sheepishly remarked “I don’t think there is as much left as you thought there would be!”  I think it’s because some people went back for thirds!  And have I mentioned that this is ridiculously easy??

Jen’s Quinoa Salad

4 cups veggie broth (I used 4 cups water with 3 veggie bouillon cubes)

1 12 oz box organic quinoa

1 cucumber

1 green pepper

2 tomatoes

1/4 cup olive oil

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 tbsp minced garlic

salt & pepper


Put the quinoa in the rice cooker.  Add the broth.  Swirl around a bit.  Turn the rice cooker on.

Now you can weed the vegetable garden and turn over the soil, or any number of fun activities!  I love how the rice cooker just takes care of this for you!

When the quinoa is done, transfer to a bowl to cool some while you prep the rest of the salad.

Cut the cucumber in half, long ways, and then slice so you have half moons.  Toss the cucumbers in with the quinoa.

Chop the green pepper into small pieces and then toss in with the quinoa.

Core the tomatoes, chop, and then toss in with the quinoa.

You might want to toss the whole thing around a bit at this point, so it’s all mixed up well.

In a small container mix the oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.  Pour over the quinoa and veggies.

Of course, toss it all together a bit more.  Now chill.

This was just as good 2 days later in my lunch, which is always a wonderful thing.  And the friend who went back for thirds?  Well, I gave her a container and got a text from her today about how much she enjoyed her work lunch!  So glad so many people are benefiting from me getting over my fear of quinoa!  As a matter of full disclosure I will tell you that T did not like it.  However, T often doesn’t like this sort of stuff so I wasn’t overly concerned.  It would be nice if he did, it being gluten free and all, but I thought it was unlikely while I was making it and wasn’t disappointed by his response!  He did not, however, mention alien eggs once so I’m going to count it as us all moving on from that unfortunate incident of some years ago.

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