Adventures with quinoa

Let’s talk about quinoa. Pronounced keen-wa, it is a tiny little grain that was a staple of the ancient Incas, who called it “the mother grain.” At least that’s what it says on the back of my Trader Joe’s organic quinoa box. It’s one of those things that, as a health food nut, I’ve known about for years. It’s a complete protein, AKA whole protein, is a source of protein that contains an adequate proportion of all nine of the essential amino acids necessary for the dietary needs of humans. As a once-upon-a-time vegetarian with a vegetarian family, we’ve tried to incorporate it into our meals on a regular. When my husband was training for the Louisville Ironman last year, he ate it A LOT. It’s something that I’ve never developed a taste for and have refused to have a part of my diet for over a year now.

Well, I’m giving it another shot. There are too many good things about quinoa to ignore. I searched Pinterest (can I say enough good things about Pinterest, no I think not) for quinoa recipes, and I found a rather promising looking one. Cheesy quinoa bites, originally pinned from I made them last night, and the verdict is in. Eh. They’re okay. I thought they were a little bland, but I will make them again.  My kids ate them.  My husband liked them but agreed it wasn’t a perfect recipe.   But I’m going to do some serious tweaking.  The original recipe is as follows:

Cheesy Quinoa Bites
Makes ~28 bites

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 2 stalks green onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Mix together quinoa, carrot, egg, green onion, garlic, cilantro, cheese, flour, salt and pepper.
3.  Distribute mixture into a greased mini muffin tin, filling each cup to the top (1 heaping Tbs each).
4.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.

I paired mine with sweet potato fries and fresh tomato slices.  Can I tell you, those fries were really good.  Trader Joe’s frozen sweet potato fries.  They will go on the grocery list again.

Here’s the plan for the next time I make them.  First, I’m going to cook the quinoa with stock as opposed to just water.  That’s my secret for rice and risotto, and I would have done it with the quinoa if I had some veggie stock on hand.  It makes all the difference in the world for rice and risotto, so it seems logical it would work the same magic for boring, bland quinoa, right?  Step number two for operation improve cheesy quinoa bites will be to bump up the cheese content.  1/2 cup parmesan is fine, but I think I’ll add an extra 1/2 cup of extra sharp cheddar.  I’ll probably also bump the salt and garlic.  Like I said earlier, the recipe seemed a little bland.  It’s a good base recipe and, as I also said earlier, I will make it again.  But I’m going to make it to suit my family’s tastes.  I made a honey mustard dressing to go with the quinoa, and it was quite tasty.  As the bites are now, they need something!

Here’s the honey mustard dressing recipe.

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • splash of lemon or lime juice

Stir thoroughly and serve.


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