Each month Chowhounds choose a dish to cook collectively, then report on their experiences.

The versatility of quinoa, an ancient grain whose popularity is growing in the United States, unleashed Chowhounds’ creativity via quinoa salads, the inaugural Home Cooking Dish of the Month. It’s a grain naturally covered in bitter-tasting saponins, so rinsing quinoa before cooking is an important first step.

Quinoa makes a great substitute for the bulgur in any tabbouleh recipe, drongo says. The veggies and herbs take just about as long to chop as the quinoa takes to cook.

For her part, nomadchowwoman had great results with a quinoa salad containing spinach, fresh peaches, dried cherries, and crumbled feta, dressed with a lemon-Dijon-honey vinaigrette. And helmut fig newton (a.k.a. CHOW photographer Chris Rochelle) mixed quinoa with raw veggies like cucumber and grated broccoli stalks, and topped the mixture with balsamic dressing and peppered smoked mackerel.

Chowhound pâté chinois made a quinoa salad with chicken, grapes, and toasted almonds, while mguino1 boiled quinoa in stock, then tossed it with cilantro, black beans, and diced tomatoes, dressing it all with lemon juice. And jen kalb made a complex recipe of quinoa sautéed with onion and oil, boiled with currants, and tossed and steamed with grated raw zucchini. The dish was a hit—but she’d add the currants later in the cooking process next time, to avoid turning them into “sweet mush.”

September’s dish is meatballs. Get cooking, then join the discussion!

Discuss: Quinoa Salad – Home Cooking Dish of the Month August 2012

Photo credits, clockwise from top left: arugula-quinoa salad with cherries by Rubee; quinoa-and-apple quinoa salad with curry dressing by blue room; spinach and red quinoa salad with peaches and feta by nomadchowwoman; bocconcini and oregano quinoa salad by Breadcrumbs

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