Monday, January 19, 2009

Quinoa With Spinach and Cheese...

We've made quite a few recipes with quinoa now... but have you given this nutritionally-charged ingredient a try yet? Maybe we can push you to pick up a box or add a couple scoops into a bag from the bulk bins at your local market to give this Baked Quinoa With Spinach and Cheese that we made for dinner tonight a try!

Rich with protein, fiber, magnesium and iron, most quinoa you will find in the market will likely be labeled as being pre-rinsed to remove its bitter saponin coating. However, I still recommend giving it a good rinse and rub with your fingertips before using just for good measure. After wilting a hearty amount of tender baby spinach, the leaves are combined with softened onions and garlic to get us going.

To bind this casserole-type dish together, a couple eggs are beaten together before adding in the remaining parts. Cooked quinoa, the spinach mixture, shreds of Gruyère cheese and just a little fresh sage are tossed in and stirred around to evenly coat all the ingredients with the eggs. Once scooped into the baking dish, the top is veiled with fresh grated Parmesan cheese for its sharp edge. Baked until the top is golden and the center is firm, let this cool down for about 5 minutes or so before sliding your knife if to cut out a piece.

Cooking the quinoa for this dish is a snap - use about 3 cups broth to 1 cup rinsed quinoa to get the amount needed. You can use broth or water, but I'd highly recommend using vegetable or chicken broth just to infuse a little more oomph into the more earthy grain (although, quinoa is technically a seed, it is more commonly referred to as a grain). This will be more liquid than you need to cook the quinoa, but the results are great and you won't need to keep an eagle eye on the pot while it cooks. After 15 minutes, drain the excess liquid away, place the quinoa back into the dry pot (off heat), cover with a towel and place the lid on top - set aside for 10 minutes and you are good to go!

We divided this out into four servings for a well-portioned veggie main dish, but you could easily stretch it to 6 or even 8 for a smaller side. With just enough power to hold it together, the pieces cut cleanly without feeling like you're eating an egg-y dish. The grounded depth of the quinoa worked quite nice with the sweet, nutty punch the Gruyère cheese added. I think this would be an excellent way to try out quinoa for the first time (and of course even if you've had it several times) as we both thought it had plenty of liveliness happening that this dish should win over any skeptics!


  1. I've always been a little afraid of quinoa. I bought some several years ago with good intentions, but never dared to try it. I'm sure it's been thrown out by now ...

    Maybe I'll pick up some more and give this a go. Does the quinoa expand during cooking? (ie- for 4 cups cooked, do I cook 4 cups or less?)

  2. Yum--I love quinoa! Your dish looks great :o)


  3. definately going on my to-try list :) i love all these ingredients!!

  4. Shane - nope they do expand. As noted above, you'll need just about 1 cup dry to get the amount needed for this recipe.

    Courtney - Yeah!

    TTFN - Great!

  5. I have quinoa in my cupboard but must admit to not really knowing what quite to do with it. This is definitely the recipe to get me started. :)

  6. I made this for dinner tonight. It was awesome! I have a question though. Do you think it would affect the taste too much if I used frozen chopped spinach the next time? Just trying to cut back on the cost.

  7. Just the inspiration I was looking for! I'm trying to add more whole grains to our diet and picked up a little quinoa at Whole Foods this week. I was still trying to figure out what to do with it when I read this post. This looks perfect (I even have some Gruyere in the fridge). Thanks!!

  8. Lisa - You'll have to let us know how it works for you!

    Mags - Fantastic! I don't think it would change the taste much at all using frozen... it would save you a step too!

    Renee - Perfect! Good luck!

  9. Yum! I love quinoa but get tired of pilafs and salads. This is a wonderful idea!

  10. I want to try this with frozen spinach. How much do you think I would use? Also, what else did you serve this with? Love the blog!

  11. Anna - Thank you!

    Joann - 1 pound fresh is about equal to 5 ounces frozen, so maybe start out with a quarter of a 10 ounce box and add more if you think it needs it?