Kitchen Garden

Using Up Quinoa

Taco with chickpeas, Spanish quinoa, raw onion, hot sauce and Mexican-style cheese.

Over the years quinoa accumulated in our pantry — jars and jars of it.

Occasionally I’d put a quarter cup in soups, yet the reality was none was being used. More came into the household via free giveaways at the home, farm and auto supply store, impulse purchases, and the like.

There was no answer to the question, “What does one do with quinoa?”

Now there is: Spanish quinoa.

I found a recipe for quinoa lentil taco meat on line. It required an ingredient called “Spanish Quinoa” and linked to a recipe. Spanish quinoa is what I call a “complex ingredient,” something requiring additional preparation before adding it to a main dish. I made a batch Wednesday and the results were satisfying. It will serve on it’s own as a side dish, or in combination with other ingredients as part of stir fry, taco filling or quick soup. Here’s the recipe:


1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup quinoa
1/2 cup diced tomatoes (drained)
2 cups vegetable broth


Sautee the onions in a Dutch oven until translucent. Add the quinoa, tomatoes and broth, stirring until fully incorporated. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cook until the moisture is absorbed, about 20-25 minutes.

Remove from the heat, fluff the mixture and it’s ready to serve on its own as a side dish. I made a double batch and stored the lot in a plastic tub in the ice box until needed.


A person can make tacos of anything. For lunch I reheated the Spanish quinoa with leftover chickpeas and salsa in a skillet. Any taco topping would be good. In the photo I used with raw onions, hot sauce and Mexican-style cheese.

Possibilities are limited only by imagination. I’ll mix Spanish quinoa with beans, with frozen greens, with recipe crumbles, with eggs, with lentils, with anything that will give it more texture or protein. As the garden comes in there will be fresh arugula, beet tops, mustard greens and kale. This possible solution to a long-standing pantry dead-zone has potential to change things around in the taco-filling arena.

One more step in the culinary journey of a kitchen garden.

3 replies on “Using Up Quinoa”

This is a great idea, Paul! I, too, often forget to throw in quinoa, even though I know it’s a good protein source. I think part of the problem, for me, is that it doesn’t add much in the way of taste or looks, and I know it has plenty of calories. I often choose beans with more flavor or even rice with more texture, instead. Your recipe is a way to change that “tasteless” issue:)

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Thanks for the comment Becky. In our household most of our shared dishes are pretty bland. I do grow and like to use hot peppers in the kitchen though. In this dish I’d cook the onions with a teaspoon of red pepper flakes and in season I’d chop up a Serrano or Jalapeno chili pepper and add it to the mix. I also keep a jar of pickled peppers in the ice box and they make a good garnish with the vinegary flavor. Tacos are almost a universal food any more. With lots of flexibility. I was confronted with the choice of either use up the quinoa or put it in the compost. I’m glad I tried this dish.

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