The “Peruvian Baked Quinoa and Cheese,” from the April 2008 Vegetarian Times, was touted as a “gluten-free alternative to mac ‘n’ cheese.” Well, I do not need any such excuse to make quinoa, because I adore this grain, anytime. Now, what makes this particular recipe “Peruvian,” other than the use of this ancient, South American grain? I’m not too sure. This is a fine recipe, allowing us to bake a marvelous grain, but it needs some flavor kick. The cheddar cheese seems to be the boldest element here, and it shouldn’t be. The simple ingredients can handle some more “complicated” tweaking. What will you dare to add?

I imagine if you cook the quinoa in vegetable broth, rather than in water, that would be a good way to boost flavor. My quinoa needed 13 minutes to absorb the water. My child enjoyed the final dish, but he could have handled added flavors and spices. Tell me what you try!

I also prepared the “Italian Tuna and White Bean Salad,” from Express Lane Diabetic Cooking, by Robyn Webb and Nancy S. Hughes. This is an easy, no-cook, throw-together salad, that incorporates a messy mix of beans, vegetables, and tuna. You don’t even need a knife for this salad, use a scissor to slice the roasted peppers and sun-dried tomatoes. I did use fresh green beans and increased the salt to 1/2 tsp. This unpretty salad is easy to eat. Enjoy it.

RECIPES: subtle quinoa and a messy salad make an adequate meal
assemble the salad first; the quinoa will be cooked while the salad chills for 1 hour
hearty quinoa is a bit bland; tuna/bean salad includes a messy bit of everything

Next time, I’ll cook a vegan menu from the June 2008 issue of Gourmet: the “Bulgur Veggie Burgers with Lime Mayonnaise,” and the “Zucchini and Snow-Pea Salad.” Return to my site on Saturday, September 20, to see how this goes.