Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What to do with Quinoa

I have long had issue with quinoa. It's cheap, it's good for you, but I just don't know what to do with it. I've tried a few recipes here and there, but have never been bowled over so I finally just made up a medium-sized batch and told myself that I had to find a way to use it.

Initially my plan was to just eat vegetables and quinoa the way I would eat vegetables and rice. Only problem there, I don't really eat vegetables and rice, so I didn't really eat vegetables and quinoa. What I've discovered, however, when coming up with new ways to use grains is that equating them with rice is the least helpful thing I could have done. When I think of quinoa and barley as rice, I also think of them as starchy, empty calories, which they aren't.

Since quinoa is really light and almost springy to eat, you can just insert it wherever and it works. Case in point, quinoa wraps.

Whole wheat or preferred tortilla
Refried beans
Flavored mayo
Cooked quinoa

I had all this stuff lying around, wrapped it in a tortilla, and turns out it's pretty fab, and super good for you. My initial plan was to use black beans, but I'm out of those. Refried beans actually work better because you can stick the quinoa to the beans and make less mess!

Basically, you take your tortilla of choice--I've been buying whole wheat lately. I get the tortillas from Trader Joes, which means that they're actually somewhat low in preservatives and go moldy far faster than I can eat them. I keep them in the freezer, take them out as needed, rinse the tortilla in lukewarm water and then microwave for 30-45 seconds. Presto--steamed tortilla! Plus the steaming makes the tortilla a bit sticky so once you've rolled your wrap, it actually stays together.

Depending on the size of your tortilla, cut a couple pieces of cheese and break in half. I never thought I'd say it, but there is such a thing as too much cheese in this recipe. The flavored mayo gives it the creaminess that cheese otherwise might have, and you really don't need much. If you opt to leave out the mayo, then use more cheese. Hell, do what you want, I just made this up anyway.

Layer cheese on the bottom, then nuke refried beans and layer on top of cheese. Heap on cooked quinoa--when I cook quinoa, I usually add a couple cubes of veg bullion for flavor. Add a stripe of flavored mayo, I used the kraft chipotle stuff because I had bought it with a coupon--it's tastey.

Finally, add something green. I've used both spinach and pea greens, but throwing something green on there gives it a very satisfying crunch, and makes this actually a balanced meal! Can you believe that I invented a low-calorie balanced meal? Plus, this is very filling. I had one last night with a cup of soup and I was stuffed.


  1. This sounds delicious. I just need to figure out a way to do it without a microwave... which I think will be pretty easy. This is great because I've had a can of refried beans in my cabinet for ages and no idea what to do with it.

    And: I had no idea that chipotle mayo existed! That sounds SO GOOD!

  2. Kraft has four new flavors now--but so far I've only tried chipotle. I just couldn't justify buying more than one bottle of mayo at once :)