CrockPot Quinoa Casserole

Day 209.

We eat a lot of quinoa in our house. I put it in the rice cooker and we eat it a few times a week as our starch. 

The kids request it for lunch quite often, and eat it with butter and shredded cheese.

Many people don't know what quinoa is. That's okay. 

We didn't start eating it until just this past year. Here is a quick article on what it is, exactly. I thought it was a grain (because the Trader Joe's box says so), but the article says that's actually the seed of a leafy plant. 


If you've never cooked with quinoa before, this is a great recipe to try---it is full of yummy stuff, and is a light, yet comforting meal or side dish.

The Ingredients.

--1 1/2 cups quinoa
--3 cups broth (chicken or vegetable; I used chicken)
--1 T olive oil
--1/2 t salt
--1/2 t cinnamon
--1/4 sliced or chopped almonds
--1/3 cup dried unsweetened cranberries

--handful of baby spinach
--1 cup baby tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
--1/2 block feta cheese, crumbled

The Directions.

You are supposed to rinse quinoa

 I didn't know this until I made the disastrous overnight brown rice and quinoa pudding, and read all of the comments. 

 I still don't rinse the quinoa that comes in the orange box from Trader Joe's. 

If you have a different brand, or are using quinoa from bulk, rinse it in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear.

Dump it into the crockpot. I used my 6qt Smart Pot for this dish.

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and mix it around.

 Add chicken or vegetable broth, the salt, and cinnamon. 

 Stir in almonds and cranberries.

Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours, or on high for 2-4. 

The quinoa is done when you can fluff it with a fork and it is tender. 

The liquid should be pretty well absorbed, similar to how you know rice is done.

Fluff the quinoa with a fork, and add the baby tomatoes and feta cheese. 

Stir gingerly to mix. 

Add a large handful of baby spinach to the top of the crockpot, and close the lid. 

 Cook on high for about 20 minutes, or until the spinach has wilted. 

Stir again to distribute the spinach.


The Verdict.

We ate this for lunch yesterday, and really enjoyed it. 

I can see adding garbanzo beans for a bit more protein and to up the heartiness. 

I was quite pleased with the very mild cinnamon flavor, and loved the cooked cranberries and almonds.

The kids both liked this.

This will be made again. Very soon.

Do you love this article?

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Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at July 27, 2008

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What they say about this article

  1. This looks great! I am happy to have another quinoa dish to try! I'm going to try this with the added chickpeas and with goat cheese instead of feta! Great mixture of ingredients, healthy, and filling - what more could you ask for?

  2. I love quino as well. I found out about it after I had my son and used it as a starter food for him.

    Well, you are almost half way done with your crock pot year are you happy or sad? lol....

  3. I was in my car driving to work today (yes I had to work on a weekend :() and I said to myself, out loud, I need a recipe for quinoa. I wonder if "A Year of CrockPotting" has a recipe for quinoa... and you did.

    It was serendipity!


  4. Anonymous7/27/2008

    No matter how much I rinse quinoa, I can still taste the bitterness. What I do now (and has opened the world of quinoa to me) is I rinse it a bit then soak it overnight, rinse well in the morning and use (or soak in the morning, rinse before cooking at dinner). This does double duty as it also gives the quinoa a chance to start sprouting and forming those beneficial enzymes. The only thing about soaking is that it makes it cook a bit faster.

  5. I don't know why the "seed of a leafy plant" couldn't be called a "grain." Corn, wheat, oats, barley, etc. all produce seeds that are called grains. Is it the "leafy" part, I wonder? Maybe the wheat, corn, etc. are considered grasses?

    If my Botany textbook wasn't 33 miles away in my office, I would look this up. But only because I can get really bogged down in such linguistic detail, especially when I should be doing something like laundry... ;)

  6. Kind of like a pilaf. Looks really good.

    Quinn: Yes, those other grains are grasses and quinoa isn't.

    Still, it looks like a grain, cooks like a grain, and eats like a grain. Might as well call it a grain for everyday purposes.

  7. Anonymous7/27/2008

    We've recently started eating more quinoa too. It's so delicious and easier to make then rice, and better for you! I was coming to look online for some new quinoa main dish recipe for dinner tonite, and stopped by here first. To my suprise, there was quinoa, right at the top!! Thanks!
    And for new quinoa users, don't be alarmed by the little sprouts that come out of the seeds when you cook them. It's supposed to do that... and they're not worms. LOL.

  8. Anonymous7/27/2008

    Is quinoa available at the everyday grocery store? Or only at a health food store?

  9. that used to be me. I had no idea about quinoa... then about 4 months ago mom got it.
    the first time i made it it seemed bland, then i made a dish that had asparagus and lemon ...delicious... its all about quinoa !!

  10. Does rinsing it change the taste a lot? I tried my first quinoa recipe a few weeks ago and - well - was less than impressed. I'm hoping that was from not rinsing it LOL.

  11. Anonymous7/28/2008

    I don't feel so bad-someone else asked where to buy quinoa- please help. thanks

  12. sorry Courtney, thank anon, for reminding me---

    I don't know. We live so close to a Trader Joe's, that's the only place I've ever looked for it. I have a feeling one of the more specialty grocery stores would have it, and that it isn't quite mainstream enough to be in a "regular" grocery store. But I could be wrong.

  13. Anonymous7/28/2008

    I looked for it at Publix this morning and couldn't find it. I could have been looking in the wrong place but my guess is that is was no where to be found. I will drop by Whole Foods where I'm sure they will have it.

    Thanks Anon for asking too..I was starting to feel like I was the only one who had never heard of it. :)

  14. Nope, Courtney, totally not the only one. I hadn't heard of it until we were diagnosed with celiac and kept reading about it as a good high-protein grain.


  15. hey back to the Quinoa, my husband of all people, I have him shop at night after his meetings on fridays. He found Traditional Quinoa Organic at Krogers in IL.

    When you did this recipe i remembered it was in the cabinet but I didn't know what to do with it.

    Now i do!! :)

  16. Oh Wow! This is delicious! I have to admit that I sampled it at the middle stage before adding the tomato, spinach and feta, and I liked that even better. I'm so happy to have found another quinoa recipe.

    BTW, you can find it in the bulk section of a store like Whole Foods, or in the organic section (and maybe the cereal or rice section) of lots of regular grocery stores. It's really gained a lot of popularity in recent years.

  17. eh - I always call it a pseudo-grain! Ha! It's like that whole tomato-is-really-a-fruit thing...

    This looks like a great one! The kids will probably love this. I am putting is in my recipe line up.

    Thanks! I always get something great from your blog. And I always get a smile.

  18. I made this for dinner tonight, and agree with another commenter that I preferred it without the added extra - I used sweetened dried cranberries rather than unsweetened. I had some for dinner, but did not mix in the feta, tomato and spinach so I can have it for breakfast for the next few days.

  19. Another way to tell quinoa is cooked is when the grains (sorry, seeds!) look like unrolled condoms (!). I read that once, and now can never get it out of my head when I look at cooked quinoa.

    And now none of you will either ;)
    Just sharing the love!

  20. Quinoa is in itself a complete protein - the UN actually declared it a superfood for other nations to grow. so no need to feel that you aren't getting enough protein with it.

  21. My first posting....tried this casserole the other night and liked it. Was dying laughing after reading SilverMoonDragon's description of how you know the quinoa are done (unrolled condoms) but it actually is pretty accurate. Smelled amazing and I was happy with the taste with and without the feta/tomato/spinach. Wondering what liquid I could add to the first part to make it more sweet instead of savory (juice versus the chicken broth). LOVE your book!!!

  22. O-M-G this may be the best thing I have ever eaten!!
    I used sweetened dried fruit(cherries,blueberries,cranberries) and left out the spinach, feta and tomato portion of the recipe and it makes a wonderful breakfast!

  23. When we got our slowcooker (an event in itself as they haven't really taken off in Germany, where my fiancé ad I live, so we had to order one specially), a friend recommended your blog. And this was the first thing I tried. And it has remained a staple and favourite in our flat. A really wonderful dish with one of my favourite things...quinoa! (Which my fiancé had never tried prior... now I can't get him off it. -- his other favourite is gluten free quinoa flour pancakes. Mmmmmmm....)

    Anyway, just wanted to thank you for this wonderful discovery!

  24. Anonymous7/07/2010

    We just bought a big bag of quinoa at costco. yet another reason Costco is my favorite store. We do not add the feta/spinach/extras and leave out the almonds due to my husbands dislike. It is amazing!

  25. I have to say, I thought the combination of chicken broth, cinnamon, and dried fruit seemed weird, but after reading the positive comments, I tried this recipe. As some of the others suggested, I left out the spinach, tomatoes, and feta part (the family wouldn't have liked it). And I used a mix of dried fruits, rather than unsweetened cranberries.

    This is great! It's the first quinoa recipe I've liked! Yum!

    I used a 2 quart slow cooker, which was plenty big enough. I'm pretty sure that on low, the quinoa was cooked in a couple of hours, but I left it on much longer, as it was far too early for dinner.

    I think the dish could have been just a TINY bit more moist, but not much.

    Thank you for posting this!

  26. Anonymous8/22/2010

    Only grasses make the fruit type called a grain. Quinoa is a seed off of a plant closely related to spinach and beets and is a fruit type of "achene". Chia is also in the same family and is also considered to be of great healthfulness.

    Just wanted to let folks know that Costco is also now selling organic quinoa, too. It's the cheapest source that we've found so far at $2.50/pound!

    We eat quinoa a lot, often instead of rice with stir fries... it's easy to make and super yummy! Even our 2 year old loves it!

  27. Anonymous8/25/2010

    I am obsessed with this dish. Today is my 3rd time making it. I would NOT leave the last three ingredients out. They make it so delicious. Who doesn't like feta, tomatoes and spinach?! I kept going back for seconds and thirds!

    Thank you so much.

  28. I was searching to see if quinoa can be done in a crockpot - happy dance that I found this post. I'm going to try using it in a pork crockpot recipe I'm trying to create. Thanks so much!

  29. Anonymous11/10/2010

    I would love to see more Quinoa recipes. I LOVE QUINOA. I have many salad recipes that use quinoa but they would not work in the slow cooker.

  30. Anonymous12/30/2010

    Is there a big difference taste wise if I use water instead of broth? Just made soup today and used all of my broth!

    PS quinoa rules :)

  31. hi there, I'm worried it would be a bit bland. You can tweak it with extra salt and maybe garlic powder, but I'd hate to steer you wrong.

    quinoa definitely rules!

  32. Anonymous1/15/2011

    I went to a healthy cooking class and the demonstrator toasted the quinoa in a pan on top of the stove first and then added water and just let it sit until done. She added pink sea salt at the end. It was very good. She didn't say anything about rinsing it.

  33. I made this last night, as my first attempt at cooking quinoa. It was delicious! I left out the cranberries (don't like them much) and added some mushrooms (because they were on sale), and absolutely loved this. Plus I've got several days' worth of leftovers!

  34. Anonymous3/14/2011

    I made this for dinner tonight. I think I did something wrong because it wasn't very fluffy... more mushy. But the flavor was delicious! I used homemade roasted veggie stock and omitted the almonds because my little guy has lots of allergies. He's 18 months and ate an entire bowl of this. It was so easy and tasty; we will definitely make it again. Thanks for all of the great recipes! I have three of your recipes in my menu plan for this week. :-)

  35. Wow, I managed to DESTROY this recipe tonight. Cooked it for 5 hours, & it was an unedible mushy mesh.

  36. try cooking it in apple juice instead of chicken broth.

  37. This was my first time making quinoa. Superly good! I will definitely be making this again! Cooked mine on low for 4 hours. Then up to high for 30 minutes with the spinach on top. Thanks!

  38. mandalyn168011/27/2011

    Love this recipe! I've made it, but with a few changes. I used chicken broth and also toss in a couple frozen chicken breasts. Instead of the cranberries and almonds, I use a couple handfuls of Trader Joe's omega trail mix (dried cranberries, cherries, pistachioes, walnuts, almonds). Instead of the feta, I grate parmesan over a serving. The first time I made this was also the first time I tried quinoa. love!

  39. I just made this but switched up a bit to make it "Greek Quinoa Casserole"

    Pretty much same cooking method but some ingredient tweaks:

    -1 1/2 cups quinoa
    --3 cups broth
    --sun dried tomatoes to your liking
    --1 Cup olives
    --1 can chickpeas

    then add the spinach and feta

  40. Kristin1/04/2012

    Love this recipe. I've made it several times now, and every time it comes out great. However, I've noticed (and this has held true using a few different slow cookers) that it's usually ready in well less than 4 hours, even on low. I usually keep an extra 1/2 to 1 cup of broth on reserve to add before the veggies and cheese to help keep things moist while the cheese melts and the veggies wilt. Even then, it's usually done in about 3 hours total.

    Also made this with parmesan instead of feta for picky family members who don't care for the latter, and it's still tasty.

  41. Hmm, mine turned out mushy. I think the dish would be better cooked on the stovetop, though I realize that would go against the whole blog concept. My 4 year old is a picky eater and she actually liked this dish! So that is high praise indeed.

  42. Really wanted to love this recipe and am glad so many did, but hubby and I had trouble with all the conflicting great flavors. I will make a revised version again, though, because I love quinoa. I will do only the cinnamon, almonds, and dried fruit, or just the spinach, feta, and tomatoes. Maybe part of my problem was I used sweetened dried cranberries because I already had a bag in the house.

  43. Nicole7/19/2012

    LOVE this recipe!! I used sweetened cranberries as I already had them and used a little less cinnamon to compensate. I cooked for about 2.5 hours on high and then put about half of it in a Tupperware. It's perfect for breakfast the next morning! Then I add the spinach, tomatoes and feta to the remaining quinoa in the Crockpot for about 20 minutes as written. I use a lot of spinach and only a few tomatoes and a bit of feta as they quickly become overpowering. 2 meals from 1 recipe?? YES PLEASE!!

    P.S. The first time I made this I used chicken broth and did not like it too much. Next time I used vegetable broth and now I’m hooked.

  44. Great recipe to share with friends who are vegetarian to0! This might be my go-to recipe for taking meals to people.

  45. Blech. We didn't like this. The problem wasn't the quinoa -- the texture was perfect. Just those flavors together were too much for us. And we are not picky. Oh, well. At least we got some good healthy food in us! :)

  46. I made this yesterday. It didn't start out well since my son declared it looked like puke and then my girls didn't want to try it. My kids spent dinnertime "one-upping" each other on the ratings they would give this recipe. It got ratings from 6-1,249,000. Until the end and then it got a zero from my daughter who didn't want to finish her plate. I think it was a little sophisticated for the 6 year olds. The 9 year old liked it but didn't want seconds. I liked it but will leave out the tomatoes. I shouldn't have included them since I don't like hot tomatoes. I might add some more almonds too. I really liked this recipe. It was very yummy. I can see this as an interesting Thanksgiving side dish.