12 things you should know about quinoa

quinoa roast cauliflower & quinoa salad

I’m always a little suspicious of anything that gets touted as a ‘superfood’. Which is why it took me a while to get around to trying quinoa.

My first encounter was with puffed quinoa as part of an exploration of new breakfast cereals. Not very inspiring unless you come from the school of thought that cereal should resemble styrofoam and be useful as a packing material.

But with my Dad’s gluten intolerance I decided to give the whole grains another chance. And I’m glad I did.

12 things you should know about quinoa

1. it’s delicious
No matter how ‘good for you’ a food is, I don’t include it in my diet unless it passes the taste test. Puffed quinoa won’t be starring on stonesoup anytime soon but the whole grains definitely make it. Slightly nutty and grainy, they’re something I could keep eating and eating.

2. it has a funny pronunciation
I always feel a tiny bit pretentious when I correct people but apparently it likes to be referred to as ‘keen-wah’.

3. it’s high in protein
A big positive for vegetarians as I’ve learned recently. It’s also pretty good on iron and fibre, which gets the nutritionists excited.

4. it’s gluten free
With my Dad being gluten intolerant, I’m always appreciative of new options to cook for him. He’s pretty keen on the rolled quinoa flakes for breakfast as well.

5. it needs washing before use
I read somewhere that the surface of quinoa contains a chemical called saponin that has a bitter soapy taste. Most commercial quinoa will already be washed and have the saponin removed but it’s a good idea to rinse it just before you use it in case there are residues.

6. it comes in different colours
Just like grapes, quinoa comes in different varieties. The most common is white, but there are also red and black. I’ve only ever come across the white variety.

7. it comes in different forms
Just like corn, it can be puffed or rolled into flakes or you can buy it whole.

8. it looks like a grain but is actually a seed

9. it has an interesting texture
The thing I love about quinoa is it’s texture. Something a little like barley with its chewiness, it also has a light fluffiness akin to well prepared couscous.

10. it’s better if you cook it
One of my first experiment with quinoa I just rinsed it in boiling water, tossed it in dressing and used it in a salad. It was edible but a little weird.

11. you can also eat the leaves
I’m yet to find a souce of fresh quinoa or it’s leaves but if you do apparently the leaves are edible. Something like chard or silverbeet.

12. it’s becoming more readily available
In Australia it’s even available in the ‘health food’ section of our supermarkets. Am sure any health food store worth its lentils would either already stock quinoa or be able to source it for you.

roast cauliflower & quinoa salad

[5 ingredients]
warm salad of roast cauliflower & quinoa

serves 2

Inspired by Cath Claringbold in the Good Weekend.

You could use all sorts of soft cheese in this recipe. Ricotta or goats curd would be lovely but I had some bocconcini that needed eating up and I really enjoyed it’s slightly chewy texture to contrast the cauliflower & quinoa. If you were wanting to go cheese free some roasted almonds would be a great substitution.

Wonderfully satisfying as a main course salad on it’s own, it would also work well without the cheese as a side dish to fish or roast chook.

I used tomato paste to flavour and slightly colour the quinoa but you could ditch it and replace the water with vegetable or chicken stock if you liked.

If you can’t find quinoa, you could substitute in your favourite cooked grain such as couscous, barley or brown rice. You’ll need to adjust the amount of water and cooking times though.

1/2 large cauliflower (approx 350g / 12oz)
1/2 cup quinoa
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 bunch chives, finely chopped
large handful bocconcini, torn into bight size pieces

Preheat oven to 200C. Cut cauliflower into bight size little trees. Place in a roasting dish, drizzle with some olive oil, season and roast, stirring occasionally until the cauliflower is golden on the edges and cooked through.

Rinse quinoa well and place in a medium saucepan with 1 cup water and the tomato paste. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes or until quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed. Season.

Divide cauliflower between two warm plates, scatter over quinoa, cheese and chives.

roast cauliflower

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Isabella Koldras January 1, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Thank you Jules. Love your site! and your great recipes!

DeskSnacker January 10, 2012 at 3:02 am

This looks amazing. The roasted cauliflower topped with chives will really bring out the flavor. Thanks for sharing!

Shelley - Australia January 20, 2012 at 5:58 am

I have just bought my first packet of Quinoa and am looking forward to trying it. I like the sound of your recipe with cauliflower so will try it – just one little comment though you spelt ‘bite’ wrong!!!!!!

nauree January 25, 2012 at 10:20 am

I have never tried quinoa before. While in QLD, we bought from a health food shop some quinoa which looks like wheat germ or rolled oatmeal like small flakes. Do I still need to rinse it? I was planning to just cook it with rice. Since it is flaked, can it be eaten as is?

jules January 25, 2012 at 4:16 pm

good question… if it’s flaked it means it’s been cooked and rolled so I probably wouldn’t bother to wash it first.

Patrick January 28, 2012 at 5:42 pm

No offense Shelley, but if you’re going to try and correct someone on their grammar, at least spell “spelled” correctly! :D

Regardless, amazing post Jules! I’ll have to give this a go the next time I make quinoa.

Tariba April 10, 2012 at 7:55 am

Sorry Patrick but broaden your horizons…. spelt, dreamt, learnt are all UK English versions of spelled, dreamed, learned and totally legitimate in literate parts of the world.

jules April 10, 2012 at 5:36 pm

wow tariba..
thx for sharing!

Grammarian August 14, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Ignorant Patrick – “spelt” is correct !!!!! And the author of this page does not know her grammar at all – she is constantly writing *it’s* (using apostrophe) when she should be writing * its * (without apostrophe).
The apostrophe is ONLY used when * it’s* comprises an abbreviated form of IT IS – when using in the possessive case ( its shell, its form, its condition ) – NO apostrophe is used.

So Patrick – a little bit of manners and learning on your behalf would indeed be welcome. “Spelt” is perfectly correct, either as past tense or past participle.

jules August 23, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Hi Janvan
Thanks for pointing out the grammatical errors on Stonesoup… definitely not my strongest point.
If 100% correct grammar is so important to you, I’d probably recommend looking for other food blogs to read.
All the best

joan September 8, 2012 at 7:59 am

A little bit of manners indeed!! a little bit of manners would be to omit the word “ignorant” and simply point out the grammar, if grammar is so important on this site.
It would be kind to be somewhat blind to the mistakes of others, don’t we make enough of our own??

chitra iyer January 29, 2012 at 8:58 pm

dear jules u r an angel in 5mts a novice like me learnt a lot keep it up all the best ciyer yours sincerely

jules January 30, 2012 at 6:43 pm

thanks for coming to my defense.. spelling and spelt aren’t really my forte :)

thanks chitra

kats January 31, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Just thought I’d add my 2 cents’ worth as I came across your site while googling for Australian-grown quinoa. I’ve read a few times that apparently it’s getting expensive for the people in Bolivia who’ve always eaten it, because it’s suddenly trendy in the west. I’m a big fan now too, and after a bit of looking around I came across this Australian supplier – no idea what it’s like compared to the stuff from Coles/Woolies, but I think I’ll give it a try:
….just thought I’d share in case anyone else was interested. :o)

Nao February 3, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Sounds yummy, Jul!

I’m a bit obsessed with quinoa at the moment and it seems to have been the addition to my lunch salads. Can not wait to give this one a go as a warm salad sounds good with this crazy cold weather!

Luv u xoxo
Ps. Who cares about the spelling! It’s all about the food :)

jules February 6, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Glad you’re loving the quinoa Nai Nai!
Love you xx

Richard donkin June 15, 2012 at 8:06 am

Why do some people have to be so exact,hope spelled that ok

Debra February 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm

I always rinse my quinoa, regardless of what the package says. I also like to dry pan toast it slightly on the stove top before cooking. It enhances the flavor quite a bit, gives it a ‘nuttier’ taste. Well worth the effort flavorwise.

Rachel February 8, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Oxfam at Broadway, Sydney, and throughout Australia including online sells different varities of rice and quinoa, including red quinoa. Worth giving them a try as you then also help support fair trade agriculture.

Bonz February 9, 2012 at 11:35 am

Trying my first bowl of quinoa flakes right now. Tastes kind of weird to me. If I didn’t know what quinoa was, and I came across a plant while lost in the wilderness, I would’ve assumed it was poisonous. Not too bad with with agave though…

@Patrick – “Spelled” is used in America, whereas “Spelt” is used in most other English speaking countries. “Color” vs “Colour”, “Aluminum” vs “Aluminium”, “Organize” vs “Organise”, etc etc…

lance February 11, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Just cooked up some quinoa for the first time. I did it rather like a pilaf, dry-frying some onion and garlic, adding the quinoa stirring til slightly toasted, then adding vegie stock (twice the volume of the quinoa), simmering covered for 15 minutes, then resting covered for 5. I now have a new favourite carb to add to the list of bread, rice, pasta and potatoes. Just delicious.

Now then, as an American living in Australia with an interest in language and grammar, I have to provide a definitive quote on the spell/spelt controversy:

“…Some of these verbs are irregular in British or American English only; in many cases, such as spell (spelt vs. spelled), learn (learnt vs. learned), and spill (spilt vs. spilled), American English uses the regular form, while British English tends to favor the irregular. In other cases, the opposite is true (dived and sneaked in Britain, also dove and snuck in America); Australian English, New Zealand English, and South African English tend to follow the British practice, while Canadian English often sides with the American usage.”

When I moved here 40 years ago, Australians invariably used “spelt”; now they go about 50/50 spelt/spelled.

Drienie van AS February 18, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Very interesting, a 1st time for me, will it be available in S.A ?? would love to use it in a recipe which I saw on Pinterest.

Erna Steyn August 1, 2012 at 9:59 pm


It is available in SA. You will find it in your Dischem store at the health department. My daughter also use the Quinoa milk powder, also available from Dischem.

jules August 13, 2012 at 7:49 am

Thanks for answering Erna!

Mark August 28, 2012 at 8:27 am

Erna, do you know anywhere we can obtain a reasonable amount at a reasonable price? Last I checked Dischem sold a little +- 500g packet for around R70.00 I think, which is obviously ridiculously over-priced and makes it useless for daily consumption!

Kim Story February 22, 2012 at 3:57 am

Hello there, found you through Pinterest…Love your blog. Here in the USA a great way to purchase Quinoa is at Costco ( wholesale warehouse-membership required). It is much less expensive and by having the bulk I use it more frequently. Our family love’s it hot,cold,savory,sweet,added to green salads very versatile product.

Clara February 22, 2012 at 5:29 am

Hi- I’m in the US, too, and have found white quinoa at BJs, another warehouse-membership club. Last year we planted quinoa from a seed supplier (www.territorialseed.com) not knowing what to expect. The plants we got resembled the edible weed we call goosefoot or lambs quarters. For several weeks we thought our seeds had not germinated because the bed was so weedy. Eventually it occurred to us these ‘weeds’ were our crop. By the time we figured it out, they were quite large so we never did try eating the leaves.

betty February 22, 2012 at 8:46 am

what a great idea to add tomato paste into the cooking quinoa – im going to try this :0 thank you!

Carla February 22, 2012 at 9:45 am

great post- I’m a big fan of the red quinoa. Sooooo yummy when I soak it overnight in water and a dash of lemon juice, then add a dash of soy sauce and lemon juice after it’s cooked. really yum. yay, quinoa! I’m thinking the red is imported from really far away, like South America- probably why you’re having trouble finding it in Oz.

Renee February 24, 2012 at 1:58 am

I looooove quinoa. It’s really good with stir fries, curry or grilled meats with a light sauce. Me and my mother try to work quinoa into as many meals as possible for the protein. (It’s a complete protein, so it replaces meat perfectly. We rarely eat meat).

Julie February 29, 2012 at 7:21 am

My daughter and I love quinoa, we have quinoa salads, quinoa risotto, quinoa porridge and we use it instead of rice with curries. You can now buy black quinoa in Woolworths FYI.

Stefanie March 14, 2012 at 4:18 am

Drienie: It is available in South Africa. I’ve seen it in health stores (both in CPT and PTA) and even in Pick ‘n Pay and Spar sometimes in the health section.

Can’t wait to get me some more quinoa! Thanks for the great recipe, Jules!

Mark August 28, 2012 at 8:38 am

Stefanie, do you know anywhere we can obtain a reasonable amount at a reasonable price? Last I checked Dischem sold a little +- 500g packet for around R70.00 I think, which is obviously ridiculously over-priced and makes it useless for daily consumption!

Katryna March 15, 2012 at 8:46 am

Have just had my first experience with quinoa and found it to be rather delicious. I am so looking forward to now experimenting with all the different ways of cooking it. Your recipe Jules will be the next one on my list.

Kenny March 15, 2012 at 1:48 pm

I eat it with everything. Mix it with Mustard seed and Millet.

Sean March 17, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Couldnt resist this. Isnt ‘spelt’ a type of wheat :-) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spelt

Ali March 20, 2012 at 8:59 pm

witch eva way it’s spellt “quinoa” taysts dee lish us.

For Melbourne-ites, “Oasis” the North Rd, Murrembeena mecca of all things middle eastern and a lot of things south american, sells 3-4 types of Quinoa as part of their regular stock – red, white, black and mixed (tri-colour) in 250-500g bags. Much cheaper than health food stores, super-margarets etc.

Ali March 20, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Murrumbeena – woops!

Barbara March 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Being Coeliac is the pits, tried Quinoa Flakes for breakfast and not impressed really bland. Can I use these flakes for Quinoa salads or do you have to buy the grain? I am going to try your cauliflower recipe it looks yum. I am willing to give Quinoa another try…

Tovah April 3, 2012 at 6:10 pm

I make use quinoa for porridge instead of oats and have stewed fruit sweetened with honey and yoghurt on top with a splash of milk. It’s delicious!

jules April 10, 2012 at 6:02 pm

I’ve been loving quinoa porridge lately too Tovah.. just with yoghurt and fresh berries.. so good

Trevor Forsyth March 29, 2012 at 3:36 pm

A friend told me that we shouldn’t eat quinoa as it is only grown in poor South American countries (like Bolivia) and is a dietry staple for the locals. Now that it has gained international popularity the cost has gone up and the locals can no longer afford to use it. Is this true? Does anyone know?

Jac Fleming April 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Hi Trevor

Not sure if want you have written is correct, but I do know that we do grow it here in Australia.

jules April 10, 2012 at 5:39 pm

My friends Mum grows it in her garden in Australia.. and eats the leaves like spinach..

Jenni B April 10, 2012 at 9:56 am

I’m a recent convert to quinoa, and have gone a bit crazy swapping it for rice, couscous and burghal wheat – it’s a light, tasty revelation when used in Middle Eastern cooking.
When our cauliflowers at home are ripe, I’m going to make this recipe throughout winter.
Cheers for a great website.

jules April 10, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Yay for quinoa Jenni!
You’re right.. it’s brilliant in Middle Eastern cooking.
It’s also a really lovely breakfast option instead of porridge or oatmeal

Dale April 14, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Tried quinoa for the first time this eveniing in a pumpkin & walnut salad & was quite surprised & impressed! So easy to cook, tastes great, & so versatile! I’m supposed to be on a low carb diet though, as I ‘m producing too much insulin & was wondering if the benefits of quinoa would outweigh the carb “thing”?

Gusto April 16, 2012 at 8:04 pm

I bought a 1.81kg bag at Costco in Melbourne a few weeks ago.I remember it was cheaper than the Coles I buy it at but have forgotten the price.

I have to tell the kids that its ancient super rice and they lap it up.

Steely Matt April 23, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Just had a warm (re-heated!) salad of Quinoa, roasted pine nuts and sunflower kernels, parsley and feta. Dressing of honey, lemon juice, olive oil and paprika….bewdiful (if I do say so myself!)

Steely Matt April 23, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Oh and by the way…in South Australia, you can buy it in bulk at Foodland Pasadena…..dirt cheap!

belinda April 24, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Hi ,
Going to try some Quinoa flakes instead of oats (as daughter is anaphylactic to oats) in ANZAC biscuits for tomorrow – hope it works, she’s 8 and hasn’t had an ANZAC biscuit since she was 3 when she became unconscious from one, she’s desperate to try one.

jenny May 2, 2012 at 7:01 pm

I have heard quinoa makes good scones but have not had a lot of luck

Jenny Mackintosh May 10, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I came on your site when looking for Quinoa recipes. Great, I made porridge this morning.

Sarah Clarke May 17, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Love your site! New to quinoa so very grateful to stumble across The Stone Soup.

Benny - Singapore May 18, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Thanks for sharing… Going to grab my first bag of quinoa tomorrow. Can’t wait to give your recipe a try.

Had a great time over the English lesson… I really “learnt” a lot….

Kate May 21, 2012 at 2:38 am

I’ve been experimenting with quinoa for a few weeks, with the flour and have produced pecan and raisin cake, and garlic, chili and olive bread. Am next going to try using the seeds instead of rice to go with the eggplant and tomato curry curry I’ve just made. For the Quinoa, Garlic, Chili and Olive Bread I have used:
1 cup quinoa flour, 1 cup low fat natural yoghurt, 2 eggs, 1/8th cup olive oil, pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 level teaspoon of minced chili, approximately 8 green olives and 8 kalamata olives, sliced or chopped, lots of ground black pepper to taste.
1. Mix first six ingredients together. (It should be moist enough with the yoghurt and eggs and olive oil without need for any other liquid).
2. Fold in remaining ingredients.
3. I only have an “air oven” which means cooking a small loaf, very small, in fact. I used a round 4.5″ spring form pan and the majority of the mixture fitted into the pan.
4. Using the “air oven” preheated, I baked it for 15 minutes at 160 degrees. Tested the centre, and put it back in for another 5 minutes.
I am really looking forward to having a sandwich for lunch tomorrow! No falling asleep from elevated blood sugar levels, no upset digestion from bread.
If you try the above recipe, I hope it works as well for you as it has done for me. Tomorrow I shall try the cauliflower recipe.

Joyce CANADA June 2, 2012 at 4:06 am

Hi there, I was wondering if anyone can tell me if you can freeze quinoa? Also how long does it store in the fridge?

jules June 6, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Hi Joyce
Yes it can be frozen.. like rice.
And will keep in the fridge for about a week once cooked.

Christie June 4, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Would quinoa be considered ok on a paleo diet seeing as it is a seed, not really a grain? Just wondering…

jules June 6, 2012 at 6:47 pm

I think most hard core paleo followers believe that even though techincally quinoa is a seed, it looks and tastes like a grain and so should be avoided.

For me though, I think the high protein content and deliciousness make it worth an exception :)

Suzanne June 10, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Love quinoa, have it cooked for breaky every day. I think I will have a go at growing it next spring. Love the cauli salad, looks great

jules June 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Would love to hear how you get on with growing quinoa.. so do report back if you try it

Janine Gordon June 25, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Thank you for this site, I have just bought quinoa for the first time & had no idea what to do with it but am looking forward to trying a few recipes now. I suffer from Rheumatiod Arthritus & am trying to use superfoods & organics to ease my symptoms rather than nasty prescription drugs. I just found out that 2 of the drugs my doctor had prescribed me were dangerous to be used together & since I stopped them I feel better. They caused me to constantly sweat, heart pulpatations, stomach, chest pain, dizziness etc… I lost my twin sister due to this awful desease just last year & don’t want to die such a horrible death as she did as she became addicted to the discusting concoction of drugs her doctor had her on & her liver gave out. So as you can see, I’m on a mission to learn more abouta healthy life.

jules July 3, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Hi Janine
I’m sorry to hear about your sister
I wish you well on your mission to learn more about a healthy life.

Bentley July 14, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Hey! You didn’t like it in a salad? Try cooking first, then mixing with cucumber, tomato, onion, feta and random Italian dressing (or make your own Greek! Better idea) and BAM. Friggin amazing cold salad that’s super filling. I climb, prune and any trees 12 hours a day. This salad and random experiments keep me going!

jules July 16, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Thanks for sharing your salad idea Bentley!

Jane Sharpe August 19, 2012 at 3:44 am

I love Quinoa but want some different ways to prepare it.

jules August 23, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Hi Jane
There are a few quinoa recipes on stonesoup… just use the ‘search box’ in the side bar to explore them

BRADLEY WARNER August 30, 2012 at 6:28 am


jules September 15, 2012 at 3:29 am

You’re welcome Bradley!

tony September 8, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Why are all of you people fighting about grammar? The subject here is the friggin food. *Yeah thats write grammar that some why dont ya*. You people must be the same idiots that search the web for any chance to spout your intelligence on someone else to try and make yourselves feel better about your own inadequacies. Well have a good night’s rest because you have put someone else down again you losers. Next commenter, please make it about the actual subject.

Lia Scacchia September 10, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Hi Jules just randomly looking for interesting quinoa recipes and found you!!!!! Have just cooked for the first time and canot wait for dinner tonight!!! Hoping it helps with my digestive problem and will defiantly become part of my new eating plan. Best part about your blog it’s fresh,funky and fun. Keep it up……love ir

jules September 15, 2012 at 12:55 am

Thanks Lia!

Shelli September 12, 2012 at 5:33 pm

On the Sunshine Coast the Natural foodstore at Forest Glen sells all three colours, and also a blend of the three in bulk. The blend is $17.50 kg. Sounds like you Southerners are getting shafted.

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