Green Quinoa with Pepitos

Green Quinoa with Pepitos

Few foods are as polarizing as cilantro.  There is no middle ground here.  Ask a group of people if they like cilantro and one half will say they LOVE it, the other will say they HATE it. No “take-it-or-leave-it” attitudes on this one…

Me?  Love it.  Bring it on.  A cilantro candle?  Sure!

Cilantro bath salts?  You mean I can soak in it?  YES!

Cilantro on my toast?  Please and THANK YOU!

Husband?  Hates it.  Thinks it tastes like dirt.  Or soap.

When asked if she’d eat it, Julia Child said “Never! I would pick it out if I saw it and throw it on the floor.”

One friend said it tastes like a penny.  Another added “a bad penny at that.”  (Is there a “good” penny taste!?).  Another said it tastes like perfume…  There’s even an “I Hate Cilantro” Facebook group, with the motto “Cilantro is disgusting and ruins everything.”  There are currently 2,990 members.  What an angry lot!

From the "I Hate Cilantro" Facebook page.

From the “I Hate Cilantro” Facebook page.


Conversely, there’s an “I Love Cilantro” page, with (gasp!) only 748 “likes.”

One moment please, I’ll be right back…


OK, where were we?

If you’re a hater, I have news for you:  your distaste is partially genetic.  But depending on how you use cilantro, you can retrain your taste buds – or technically, your olfactory buds, er, receptors. Why would you want to do that?  Because you’re missing out!  And I’ve got JUST the recipe to cure you:  Green Quinoa with Pepitas!

If you haven’t discovered quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”) yet, it’s my go-to grain for everything from side dishes to soups.

There are other reasons to love this recipe – it’s packed with good-for-you foods and it’s a healthy alternative to high starch side dishes like rice or potatoes.  Plus, it couldn’t be easier.

The cilantro?  It adds color and a hint of flavor, but it’s not overpowering at all.  Trust me.

Green Quinoa with Pepitos
Serves: 8 Servings
  • 1 cup spinach leaves; tightly packed
  • ½ cup cilantro sprigs; tightly packed
  • 1¼ cups chicken broth; low sodium
  • 1¼ cups almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1½ cups quinoa
  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds, roasted
  1. Place the spinach, cilantro, and broth in a blender and blend until everything is pureed. Add the milk and salt and blend again.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter and oil over medium heat. When the butter stops popping, add the rice and saute, stirring frequently, until it just starts to brown, 3-4 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the spinach puree and stir well.
  3. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 20 minutes. Stir the rice carefully to avoid crushing it, cover and cook for 3-5 minutes more. Remove from heat and let the rice steam for 10 minutes in the covered pot. Sprinkle with the pepitas and serve.

Regarding the cilantro conundrum and other mysteries, when I have “WHY” questions about food I turn to Harold McGee – kind of the “Bill Nye the Science Guy” of all things food.  You can see what he says about cilantro here.

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