Okay – I’m really not “keen” on quinoa. In fact, I really don’t like it at all (but I liked the title, so there’s that).

I’ve noticed an alarming trend happening in my kitchen these days – that is, the accumulation of what I call “one-off” ingredients. These are ingredients that I buy for a single recipe, only to have the recipe fail, only to have the ingredient gather dust in my pantry/fridge/freezer till the end of time.

So starting in January I went through my entire kitchen and actually made a list of these ingredients, determined to find SOME way to use them up, and assuage my ever-growing guilt.

And I feel SO much better – except for this:

steak with crispy quinoa and cauliflower puree

This FOUR POUND BAG OF QUINOA has been the bane of my existence for months now, and I’m ready to take it on once and for all.

See, I was very late to the quinoa game, and only cooked with it for the first time last year.

And I really, really didn’t like it. Didn’t like the taste, texture or even the smell. The recipe itself (a pilaf, I believe) was a good one; I just was NOT feeling the quinoa.

But then there I was, making that list, when I opened the fridge and found myself face to face with this giant bag.

And thus a series was born.

For the next few weeks (or till I run out of ideas) I will be sharing a recipe that uses quinoa in very “un-pilaf-like” ways. Basically, in ways that ensure that you DON’T have to taste it. Clearly I’ll need some help here so if you have ANY suggestions on how to cook or bake with quinoa such that it completely masks it, please help a girl out, ‘kay?

I have a great recipe to kick things off but first, a few facts slash tips:

1. Quinoa is pronounced  “KEEN-wah, not “kwin-OH-ah”.
2. Quinoa is NOT a grain, but in fact a relative of spinach, beets and chard. The part we eat is actually the seed, cooked like rice.
3. Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat, containing all nine essential amino acids. It is high in fiber and naturally gluten-free.

As most of the recipes I share here will call for cooked quinoa, I’d like to share the best way to prepare and store it (directions courtesy of Jenny of Dinner A Love Story):

Start with 1 c. of quinoa – keeping in mind that one cup of uncooked quinoa will yield 3-4 cups cooked. Put the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and give it a good rinse. This is an important step as it removes quinoa’s natural coating – called saponin – which can make it taste bitter or soapy. Do this even if the packaged says “pre-rinsed”.

Place quinoa in a small saucepan with 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. You can either proceed with your recipe or let cool, and divide into one-cup portions. Place each in a ziploc bag, press out any excess air, label and freeze.

cooked quinoa

Okay – ready to cook?

steak with crispy quinoa and cauliflower puree

First – please forgive these grainy photos. This is SOME winter we’re having in New York this year, and these were taken on a late afternoon that was so dark and grim I can’t even tell you…….

Okay – I really – REALLY – loved this recipe. All of it, including the quinoa! Toasting it up this way – and adding the parsley and parmesan – created a delicious, crunchy topping that was the perfect complement to simply grilled flank steak and a yummy cauliflower puree.

We can totally do this!

steak with crispy quinoa and cauliflower puree

Steak With Cauliflower Puree and Crispy Quinoa (serves 2; can be doubled)
from Real Simple

1/2 c. quinoa
2 T. olive oil (plus more if needed)
kosher salt
black pepper
1 T. grated parmesan
1 T. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 T. unsalted butter
1 1/2 lbs. flank or skirt steak

Combine the quinoa, 2 T. of oil, 1/2 c. water, 1/2 t. salt and 1/4 t. pepper in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is golden brown, about 15 minutes (you may need to add a bit more oil). Stir in the parmesan and parsley.

Meanwhile, steam the cauliflower in 1/2 inch water until tender, 15 minutes. Pulse the cauliflower, cream, butter, and 1/2 t. each salt and pepper in a food processor until finely pureed.

Season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper. Grill or broil till medium-rare. Let rest for 5 minutes and thinly slice against the grain.

Serve the steak and quinoa over the puree.

(print this recipe)

This delicious recipe brought to you by Sheri Silver


  1. Beth on July 23, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    Where is the crispy aspect here

    • sherisilver on July 23, 2020 at 3:07 pm

      The quinoa gets crispy when you toast it up!

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