Quinoa “Mac and Cheese” with Spinach

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



  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

28 thoughts on “Quinoa “Mac and Cheese” with Spinach

  1. Quinoa is one of my favorites, up there with pasta. The dish looks beautiful. When I made this (had a little head start with the recipe) I did it times 8 (octupled it???) so I added almost eight times the oil and garlic which is ALOT of oil and garlic. The dish tasted great but I think it was a bit too rich. I wouldn’t add nearly as much oil the next time and put more spinach in than the recipe calls for. But I will definitely make it again and my friend, who tried it, asked for the recipe:)))) The goat gouda tasted great in it. Yum.

  2. This sounds soooo delicious– I am definitely going to try it VERY soon! :) Where did you get the goat gouda? Have you tried other cheeses?

  3. This recipe looks great, and I would love to try it, but I am not a big fan of goat cheese. Do you have any other recommendations?

  4. Just made this for dinner and it was delicious. Easy to make and the flavors go together beautifully.

  5. This past weekend, when I visited friends in LA, I made this recipe for them with with Mozzarella Cheese and toasted almonds and it came out delicious!

  6. Just made this tonight – found it thanks to thekitchn.com and have to say it was absolutely delicious. I swapped in some chopped almonds since those were the nuts I had on hand and can guarantee this will most certainly become a dinner staple. Looking forward to exploring the other goods on the site.

  7. Hello Vampire fighter…. 8 cloves of garlic! Is that a typo? Maybe it depends on the size of your the cloves. I might add adjust accordantly if you plan on being around anyone or if you want to taste anything besides the garlic.
    I found my Goat Gouda at Trader Joes.
    Thanks for the recipe. Adding it to my pasta free rotation.

  8. This recipe begs for an encore. I made it two nights in a row. It took me weeks to find a store that carried goat Gouda, but you can be sure I will be buying it again.

    This recipe rocks!

  9. Rebecca, trust me, the amount of garlic is just right! I too was skeptical but 8 cloves felt just right

  10. First of all, this recipe is fantastic!! This is the second time I have made it and it’s one of my new favorite lunches. Love it!! I use cheddar sometimes (since i always have it around!) and that is super tasty too.

    I am currently working on a cookbook compilation of recipes that are free of processed grains and sugars. I was wondering if I might be able to add this (or a slight variation of it) to this compilation. I wouldn’t be selling it, it would be free on my blog. I am a Pampered Chef consultant and figuring out recipes that I can eat at parties has been tricky, so I am putting together a big “cookbook” of recipes I find that i love. Please let me know if it is okay with you! You will get 100% credit. Thank you!


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