Conquering quinoa

I once was at someone’s house when they were kind enough to grill some hamburgers, put out a bowl of chips, and make a quick salad for lunch. Lucky for me, this was just in the last couple years, so I actually liked burgers (curse me for not blogging about my first burger a couple years ago!).

Being the polite houseguest that I am, I took a little of everything and let my hosts know how delicious all the food was. But I found myself picking through the small grains of quinoa in my salad to get only the greens and cucumbers on my fork.

Now, I had every intention of eating my full salad portion, quinoa included, when I scooped some onto my plate, but my eyes proved more ambitious than my stomach because I just couldn’t bring myself to even try the quinoa.

Getting validation from this blog has made me bolder though.

That’s why when I heard about Serena Wolf’s buffalo chicken quinoa bake, a healthier way to ingest buffalo chicken, I was all in.

This casserole included not only quinoa, but also carrots, cauliflower, and a Greek yogurt—based ranch dressing. With the promise of satiating my buffalo cravings without needing to break out the air fryer, I was not only willing, but excited, to try some quinoa.

The verdict

I knew that I needed to rinse my quinoa really well before cooking to avoid an acrid taste taking over the entire meal, so I rinsed my little heart out. That’s why after boiling my quinoa (using the 1:1.5 grain-to-liquid ratio that Serena swears by), mixing it in with the other casserole ingredients, and trying the couple grains left on my fork, I panicked. That bitter flavor reared its disgusting head, and I feared that I had ruined the entire casserole I just put in the oven.

I decided not to mention anything to my boyfriend about it, just like how I called this a “buffalo chicken grain casserole” and left out the part about the carrots, cauliflower, and quinoa. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him!

Anyway, all my worrying was for naught because the quinoa was, in fact, sufficiently rinsed. I must’ve just had some undercooked grains stuck to my fork. Bullet dodged!

So what did I think about the quinoa?

Truly couldn’t be more neutral in flavor and texture. Gotta love it.

Yes, it’s hilarious and embarrassing that I feared this tiny grain so much that I actually picked around it in a salad not too long ago. But what I’m choosing to focus on is that I faced that fear and conquered the quinoa!

Bonus points that the predominant flavor in this particular casserole was one of my favorites, buffalo sauce! I think next time, I’d convert this to a grain bowl rather than a casserole to get away with using a little less cheese and to cut out some of the cooking time. But, yes, there will be a next time!

The quinoa was the perfect, neutral vessel for the buffalo and ranch sauces, and Serena has a ton of other quinoa bakes on her site. That means I have lots of other flavor combos to try!

How else should I use quinoa? Let me know in the comments below or on Instagram @thepickyeaterchronicles, and keep your picky eater–shaming to yourselves, haters!

Published by Bethy St. John

Lifelong picky eater with a love for all things cooking. I'm a complicated woman.

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