Monday, January 21, 2008

Seeing what else quinoa can do...

We've made our fair share of quinoa dishes of late, but most of them have been in some sort of salad. Now, that doesn't mean we have not ventured out of that box once or twice... remember those Quinoa and Potato Croquettes?

We thought it was about time we tried something a little different with this complete protein and see just how versatile it can be. In the original recipe for this Quinoa-Spinach Bake, it just called for 2 cups of cooked quinoa - to boost the flavor a bit, we cooked the quinoa in vegetable broth (feel free to use chicken broth!) instead of water as typically called for. While that was bubbling away, we quickly blanched a very large mound of fresh spinach - this literally takes seconds and you want to plunge the spinach in an ice bath as soon as it turns bright green. I used to end up having to pick out ice cubes from the cooked spinach when we did this in the past, but a couple years ago I started placing a colander in the icy water first so I wouldn't have to deal with that! You can use a towel to wring out the excess water, but I've grown to like using a potato ricer as it makes a little less mess (the one we have now comes with 3 disks and we use the coarse one for this). Oh, and am I the only one that is always amazed at the tiny amount you end up with afterwards?

If you don't want to bother with that step, just use a 10 ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, it should be close enough. Once those ingredients have been prepped, an onion, along with fresh thyme, rosemary and crushed red pepper are sautéed until the onion is softened. A couple cloves of garlic are then added until you can smell their fragrant aroma. The cooked spinach, quinoa, some ricotta cheese and a couple eggs are then combined with the onion mixture in a large bowl. It did call for using cottage cheese, but I switched that for ricotta as I already had half a container aching to get used (or risk being tossed in a few days!). Baked in a square dish until the center is set and the edges are golden, you could either slice this into several cleanly-cut pieces to serve as a side or just quarter it to have a big hunk for a veggie main dish. With the amount of spinach and (somewhat) bland/earthy quinoa, I think you could be a little more aggressive with the spices to heighten the flavor a bit more. It also didn't call for any salt, but I tasted it before it went into the oven and it was a little flat, so I stirred some in before it went into the oven.


  1. That's awesome! I love quinoa--this is a great way to use it. I just made a quinoa soup with spinach that I can't get enough of at the moment.

  2. quinoa-spinach bake?? how intriguing!! yum!!

  3. I've been using Quinoa quite a bit lately, but also mainly in salads. I like this new variation that you tried. Those croquettes look good.

  4. Thanks for bringing the croquettes to my attention! I wasn't on the CLBB or know about your blog at the time you posted these originally. Have been experimenting with quinoa lately and am glad to have found another use for it. =) Thanks - I love your blog!
    - from the BB, RebelYell 18

  5. Julie - Quinoa soup sounds interesting!

    Veggiegirl - I agree, very tasty!

    Helene - Thanks!

    Rebelyell - I hope you experiment more with it!