Quinoa Mac and Cheese Recipe, it’s lightened up, protein-packed, and kids love it! This is a healthy and delicious alternative to the classic comfort food and kids love it!
When I first began hearing about quinoa, pronounced keen-wah, I became very interested because of it’s nutritional value. It’s commonly referred to as a grain but is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard.
Here’s the kicker, it has all 9 amino acids, most vegetables/grains do not have all nine. Without going into a total dissertation on nutrition, plant-based foods are not complete proteins. Having all nine amino acids is highly important to vegetarians and vegans concerned about adequate protein intake.
Additionally, quinoa is rich in lysine (essential for tissue growth and repair), and magnesium (good for people with migraines), folate, and phosphorus, and riboflavin. It’s also high in fiber. It’s easy to see why it’s commonly referred to as the World’s Healthiest Food.
Before trying quinoa, I was highly skeptical. We all know that most foods that are super good for us taste terrible! To my surprise, it’s actually very good! It’s fluffy, nutty, and slightly crunchy, like undercooked pasta or grits, but in a good way. Like pasta, it takes on the flavor of whatever you put with it.
Now, putting a rich cheese sauce is NOT the most healthy way to eat this superfood. However, if you’re interested, it’s a good introduction to the world of quinoa!
HOW TO MAKE QUINOA MAC AND CHEESE RECIPE
It’s really simple to make this recipe. First, I cooked the quinoa according to the directions on the package. Next, I made a simple Cheese Sauce. Cheese Sauce starts with White Sauce, but it’s simple to make.
Finally, you stir the quinoa and sauce together, season and, basically, it’s ready.
You can add more cheese on top and bake it until that cheese melts. I skipped this step.
I made a cheese sauce for my quinoa instead of just adding cheese and letting it melt.
A béchamel or white sauce is one of the classic French “mother sauces” that form the basis of much French cuisine. White sauce is perhaps the most commonly used mother sauce for home cooks.
To make a cheese sauce you start with the Mother sauce, Bechamel Sauce. Bechamel Sauce is also called White Sauce. Bechamel Sauce is made with butter, flour, and milk. For a cheese sauce, you simply stir in shredded cheese until it melts and makes a smooth sauce.
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I updated this post from an earlier version. I made new photos and simplified the recipe instructions.
QUINOA MAC AND CHEESE RECIPE
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoons self-rising flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 pinch salt to taste
- 2 cups cheddar cheese shredded
- in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, warm the milk over medium heat, stirring occasionally. You just want it to be warm about 110°F.
- In a separate heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat until it has melted. Whisk the flour into the melted butter a little bit at a time, until it is fully incorporated into the butter, giving you a paste. This is called a roux. Heat the roux for another minute or so to cook the flour.
- Add the warm milk to the roux very slowly while whisking. Whisk vigorously to break up any lumps. Reduce the heat to simmer and simmer until the sauce thickens.
- Add salt and shredded cheddar. Stir until smooth.
- Meanwhile, cook the quinoa according to package directions. When cooked, mix quinoa with cheese sauce, stirring until combined. Taste and adjust salt. Add pepper if you like.