Quinoa “Mac and Cheese” with Spinach

January 19, 2011

Soul Food Soul Food
Quinoa meets Mac ‘n’ Cheese.It is time for another Cucee confession: I love Mac and Cheese. An image of this warm comfort food on my plate takes me back to my childhood…  I can just see myself on a chilly winter afternoon, coming home from school to a feel-good plate of creamy pasta and a big hug from my mom.

My kids seem to have inherited my affinity for Mac and Cheese. Their favorite recipe is the one I adapted a few years ago, which is a healthier variation of the one I loved as a kid.

Last week, while browsing my recipe collection, I stumbled upon Cheesy Quinoa and Spinach, a simple recipe that I had been considering for a while. As I presented “Quinoa ‘n’ Cheese” to the family, my kids wiggled their little noses (apparently, they did not expect spinach in their Mac and Cheese!)  They changed their minds after the first byte; my daughter even asked for seconds. Twice.  And then, asked for an encore a few days later.

Cheesy Quinoa and Spinach, a quick recipe to throw together on a weeknight, got our unanimous vote for being the best “Mac and Cheese” so far! And even though the original is likely to continue making it’s way onto my kids dinner plates (mainly when they have their friends over) this new healthier variation will definitely become my frequent dinner option.

Quinoa Mac and Cheese with Spinach Quinoa Mac and Cheese with Spinach Quinoa Mac and Cheese with Spinach Quinoa Mac and Cheese with Spinach

Quinoa Mac and Cheese with Spinach

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat.
  2. Add the quinoa, and cook until the quinoa is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Drain in a mesh strainer, and rinse until cold; set aside.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, stir in the sunflower seeds, and cook until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the garlic, and cook until the garlic softens and the aroma mellows, about 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in the cooled quinoa and spinach; cook and stir until the quinoa is hot, and the spinach has wilted.
  7. Stir in the lemon juice, and all but a pinch of the cheese.
  8. Stir until the cheese has melted.
  9. Serve right away, sprinkled with the remaining cheese.
Quinoa Mac and Cheese with Spinach Quinoa Mac and Cheese with Spinach

Wine pairing

Everyday light and airy Parducci Small Lot Blend Chardonnay Mendocino County contrasts nicely against slightly sharp yet creamy and rich Quinoa dish

Quinoa Mac and Cheese with Spinach Quinoa Mac and Cheese with Spinach Quinoa Mac and Cheese with Spinach Quinoa Mac and Cheese with Spinach
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