Quinoa Tips: Always rinse and drain well before cooking; this will eliminate any trace of bitter flavor. Red, white, or tri-color quinoa may be used. Leftover or previously cooked quinoa works very well in this recipe. This How to Cook Perfect Quinoa post offers specific details and troubleshooting.
Flavor upgrade for the quinoa: To achieve a slightly nutty flavor, you can sauté the rinsed and drained quinoa over medium-high heat in about a tablespoon of olive oil until dry and slightly toasted. Stir frequently so as not to burn as quinoa dries. Then, add the liquid and simmer, uncovered, over low until cooked through, about 12-15 minutes. To get the correct amount for this recipe, start with ¾ cup (141g) of dry quinoa and, after sautéing, add 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (10oz) water. You could also cook the quinoa in chicken or vegetable stock for added flavor.
The zucchini: I grate the zucchini on the coarse side of a box or hand grater then squeeze out the excess moisture with a paper towel or clean tea towel.
• Broccoli is an excellent alternative to the zucchini. Frozen and thawed broccoli that has been similarly squeezed of its moisture works well, as does chopped leftover roasted broccoli. When roasted, enough moisture has been cooked out that squeezing is not necessary.
• You could also try spinach, treating frozen the same way as the zucchini or frozen broccoli. Fresh spinach should be steamed or sautéed to wilt, and then the excess moisture should be removed.
• Mixing up the cheese is fair game (an Italian blend or crumbled feta would be nice), and cheese lovers may absolutely go a heavy on the measurement.
• A handful or sliced olives offers another complementary flavor addition.