A lot of Chowhounds have a problem with the grain quinoa because of its bitter taste. But there’s an easy solution: Rinse the heck out of it before cooking. “Quinoa has a natural coating called saponin that is quite bitter,” says Caitlin McGrath. Rinsing takes care of the soapy coating—and even if your brand of quinoa is pre-rinsed, you may still be well advised to wash it. Definitely rinse, says onceadaylily. “I worked at a café that served quinoa (we used it as a base for some dishes, instead of rice), and we *always* rinsed it, per the careful instruction of the hippie chick who fought for its place on the menu,” says onceadaylily.
What to do with the stuff once you’ve rinsed it? “In the summer, I use it chilled as a protein in lettuce with fruit salads,” says Cathy. “I had it on a salad served with grilled shrimp and mango at Nieman Marcus and that was divine (and only 460 calories), which was my inspiration for many of my meals last and this summer. In cooler months, I use it as a side dish with dried fruit.” Vetter snuck quinoa “into a beautiful gratin of all kinds of nightshades and onions and spicy Italian sausage. It worked beautifully, maintained its nice texture, and had no off-putting flavor in that context. Millet is also nice that way.”