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Quinoa that Doesn’t Taste Like Cardboard: Limey Quinoa with Pecans and Currants

Packed with protein and gluten-free, quinoa has been the darling of the grain world for some time now, but its big problem is flavor. Depending on what kind you buy, it can range from “backyard dirt” to “cardboard box.”

When I started buying organic quinoa at my little bio market around the corner from my apartment in Paris instead of the stuff in the regular grocery store, I noticed a huge difference right away. The organic quinoa had a light, subtle nutty flavor – as it should – and it reminded me of why I liked it in the first place.

More than 20 years ago, while tromping through the Andes mountains in Peru on a 10-day hiking trip, it seemed like every day we had some kind of quinoa. Quinoa in our morning pancakes. Quinoa in our soups at night. Quinoa in the bread we ate with the soup. I’d never heard of it before. When I returned to Dallas, I found the ancient supergrain at Whole Foods. I wasn’t sure what to do with it besides try to replicate some of the easy recipes I’d eaten in Peru. This was pre-internet. Feels like a lifetime ago.

Two decades and countless bags of quinoa later, I’m circling back around again because I love the way it tastes. The organic quinoa costs a little bit more than the regular, but it’s worth it. Every cup of quinoa yields about 4 cups, so I always make a double batch and freeze what I don’t eat in 2-cup portions. That way, it’s always there when I want to add some to a soup, roasted veggie salad, or stir it into some black beans and spinach for a taco.

Or in the case of this recipe, use it as a stand-alone side – because it doesn’t taste like a shoebox.

Limey Quinoa with Pecans and Currants

Makes about 2 ½ cups


2 cups cooked quinoa*

⅓ cup currants

⅓ cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped

zest of 1 lime

salt to taste

Toss all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Taste for seasonings.

Serve as a side, with chicken or fish, anything. Use as a base for a bowl of roasted veggies. Stuff in a baked sweet potato. Mix with wilted spinach and put in a taco.

*Cooking quinoa is always a 1:2/quinoa to water ratio. Put a pot of salty water onto boil, add quinoa, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed all of the water. Fluff.