How to Actually Make Quinoa Taste Good

Yes, we promise it’s possible.

GRILLED SCALLOPS WITH ORANGE-­SCENTED QUINOA, Giada De Laurentiis, Giada at Home/Giada’s Book Club, Food Network, Quinoa, Oranges, Scallops, Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Garbanzo Beans, Parsley

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Off the top of your head, picture the most delicious quinoa dish you’ve ever tasted. Oh, you can't think of one? Well, don’t fret. At one time, we could relate. But we’re here to tell you that it’s not the quinoa that’s the problem, it’s you. Or, rather, it’s the way you’re preparing it.

This superfood, which came to the forefront a few years ago as a delicious, hip "ancient grain," has a mild, nutty flavor that can actually pair well with just about anything. Which means, if you’re having a hard time understanding the hype, you might just need a few pointers.

Luckily, Food Network is always happy to help. But first, let’s talk about the health benefits. Loaded with more protein than any other grain or seed, this superfood also contains essential amino acids, vitamins and iron — all while being gluten-free! It’s that super! (Sorry, we couldn’t resist).

To give you a good idea of your options, we’ve rounded up some of the best recipes that take quinoa from that grain you’re supposed to eat to something you actually want to eat. Pro tip: Don’t forget to rinse your quinoa before cooking to avoid a bitter aftertaste.

1. Herbed Quinoa: Let’s start simple. Giada’s healthy recipe is an easy, accessible intro into the quinoa-cooking world. Dressed in parsley, thyme and basil, this vibrant dish the perfect accent to any entrée — a simple masterpiece you can make.

2. Instant Pot Chicken with Quinoa, Pistachios and Apricots: This chicken and quinoa dish will be an instant (get it?) success with your family. The sweet apricots, crunchy pistachios, zesty ginger, serrano chile and tender chicken all come together with a healthy serving of quinoa.

3. Quinoa Salad: Salads are an excellent entry point for experimenting with quinoa. Whether you’re following this recipe, which includes pickles, endive and avocado, or trying one of Food Network’s many other variations (like this Greek Salad or Asian Chicken and Quinoa Salad) you’ll be sure to find a recipes that will make you a quinoa lover for life.

4. Kale and Quinoa Salad: Two superfoods come together to create a dish chock-full of everything you need. First, steep and massage the kale for just the right texture and flavor before topping with goat cheese for a decadent finish.

5. California Turkey Chili: When you first think of quinoa, chili probably doesn’t come to mind right away. But, after you make this California Turkey Chili, it sure will. This turkey chili served on a bed of quinoa is a comforting combo we never knew we needed.

6. Quinoa Bowl with Chicken and Avocado Cream: With all the burrito bowl fixings you need — chicken, corn, sour cream, salsa — this light Quinoa Bowl with Chicken and Avocado Cream could beat Chipotle any day. Don’t believe us? Well then you probably haven’t had avocado cream yet.

7. Teriyaki Salmon Quinoa Bowls: Salmon is delicate and deserves to be treated as such. We think a soft bed of quinoa is the best way to do that. The sweetness of teriyaki brings these two together for a sweet-and-savory bowl of pescatarian-friendly quinoa goodness.

8. Mexican Quinoa Breakfast Bowl: For anyone who enjoys a nice savory breakfast in the morning, this bowl is the savory (and healthy) option you’ve been waiting for. The bed of quinoa is topped with salsa, beans and avocado (of course) as well as radishes, pumpkin seeds and a creamy Greek yogurt dressing.

9. Grilled Scallops with Orange-Scented Quinoa: Quinoa can be classy, especially if it’s orange-scented and served with scallops. Prepared with orange zest and topped with an orange-juice dressing, this quinoa dish is light and refreshing —so you can feel healthy and fancy while eating dinner.

10. Quinoa and Vegetable Stuffed Peppers: The nuttiness of the quinoa pairs perfectly with the tender char of the pepper, which gets even better with the addition of mint and chile pepper. Try mixing it up with different colored bell peppers, and you’ll be stuffed, too!

11. Black Bean and Quinoa Falafel: If we still haven’t convinced you to give quinoa another chance, think about all the options for meal prepping. It’s obviously easy to prep and store quinoa salads and bowls, but this Black Bean and Quinoa Falafel is the ultimate catch-all. Throw them on pita or a Greek salad, or simply use them as veggie patties in sandwiches for a plant-based protein.

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