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Recipes A to Z....."Q" is for Quinoa and other Grains

Updated on September 24, 2009

Storing Quinoa and other Grains

Whole grains have a shorter storage life than beans because they contain an oil-rich germ that can become rancid. So purchase them in smaller quantities and keep in tightly covered containers. If refrigerated or frozen, most will keep approximately 6 months to one year.

Preparation of and Cooking Quinoa

Quinoa is an ancient grain, full of protein, but may be new to some Americans. It cooks like rice but has a mild flavor and is slightly chewy.

Quinoa should be rinsed several times before cooking. If it is soaked about 15 minutes in cold water, then rinsed several times, a coating will be removed that would taste bitter, if left on the grain. After rinsing, measure 1 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 3/4 cup grain slowly. Return to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 15 minutes. Drain. Makes 1 3/4 cups. Then you are ready to make a recipe with the quinoa.

Characteristics and Uses of Quinoa

Quinoa has a light, nutty flavor. It is higher in protein than other grains and expands to 4 times its volume when cooked.

Use quinoa in grain salads, as a stuffing for zucchini or tomatoes, in enchiladas or fajitas. Quinoa goes great with salsas and chutneys.

Quinoa-Stuffed Tomatoes

4 large tomatoes

4 slices bacon

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup green bell pepper

2 Tablespoons chopped celery

1 cup cooked quinoa

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

1/4 cup raisins

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Remove slice from top of tomatoes. Carefully remove pulp and reserve. Lightly salt tomato shells and invert to drain.

Cook bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towel. In bacon drippings, saute onion, green pepper and celery until tender. Chop reserved pulp and add to onion mixture.

Add quinoa, bread crumbs, raisins, salt and pepper. Crumble bacon, reserving 1 Tablespoon and stir into filling mixture. Fill tomato shells. Bake at 350 degrees F 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle tops with reserved bacon. Makes 4 servings.



Amaranth is another whole grain which becomes sticky when cooked.

Mix with corn, scallions and cooked pinto beans. Simmer 25-30 minutes. Do not salt until thoroughly cooked.


Couscous is wheat berries or rice that have been ground, steamed and dried to form tiny pellets. It is quick-cooking, usually in about 5 minutes. The whole-wheat version is more nutritious.

Try as a light "bed" for spicy vegetables and stews, or in a rosotto with curried vegetables. Boil 1 cup water, add 1 cup couscous. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Spicy Coconut Couscous

2 2/3 cups flaked coconut

4 2/3 cups milk

6 Tablespoons chopped onion

1/4 cup butter

2 2/3 cups couscous

1 teaspoon salt

dash of pepper

Combine coconut and 2 2/3 cups milk in a saucepan. Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture foams (about 2 minutes). Strain coconut-milk mixture and reserve coconut.

Saute onion in butter in saucepan until tender. Add couscous, coconut milk, remaining milk, salt and pepper. Stir to moisten couscous and bring to a boil, uncovered. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand until milk is absorbed, about 5-10 minutes. Fluff with fork. Makes 8 servings.

To use drained coconut, return the moist coconut to the saucepan and add 6 Tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar. Stir over low heat until well-blended. Spread thinly in a shallow pan. Toast in moderate oven (350 degrees F) about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with chicken or lamb curry.

Cracked Wheat

Cracked wheat is wheat berries that have been cracked into small pieces. They can be used in casseroles with brown rice, as a grain salad or as a stuffing. Cook 25 minutes.

Hard Red Winter Wheat Berries

Wheat berries have a chewy texture and are high in protein.

Cooked berries make an excellent grain salad with bean sprouts, carrots, tamari, sesame oil and scallions. They can also be blended into stuffings with celery, mushrooms, thyme and sage or as a side dish with butter, sea salt, freshly ground pepper and chopped fresh parsley. Cook 1 1/2 hours. Don't salt.


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    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 8 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Sounds very good! I'll have to try it!

    • rmcrayne profile image

      rmcrayne 8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      One of my Turkish friends made a "pilaf" with bulgar and lentils. Yum. The bulgar cooks up like couscous, but you do have to cook it. Comes in different sized grains.

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 8 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      RM, I've had bulgar in taboulli, a delicious salad. Thanks for the tip on soaking the grains.

    • rmcrayne profile image

      rmcrayne 8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      I had couscous often in Turkey where they just call it Bulgar. Donna Gates of the Body Ecology Diet recommends quinoa, amaranth, millet and buckwheat (no wheat or other grains). She recommends soaking them 12-24 hours to make them easily digestable. I'm glad you mentioned the texture of amaranth. No where have I seen that, and I thought I was doing something wrong as mine always came out soupy compared to quinoa and millet.

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 8 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Storytellersrus, you're welcome. They are unusual but I especially like the couscous. I make it all the time as an alternative to rice.

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 8 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      I have sampled all of these with varied success and appreciate new recipes for them. Thanks.

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 8 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Thank you so much, Larry. I was going to use quesedillas, but I already did that in the Mexican hub. I'm glad you like the recipes!

    • maven101 profile image

      maven101 8 years ago from Northern Arizona

      I was wondering what you were going to use for " Q "...

      I must get some of this quinoa and apply it to your delicious recipe...Everything I have made from your recipes have all turned out just great...Thanks, Larry