Italian-Style Quinoa Loaf

In the early eighties when I moved to Washington D.C., my favorite health-food store was a tiny co-op crowded with hefty plastic bins filled with exotic-looking beans and grains that this Alabamian had never before seen or imagined. Quinoa was one of the “grains” in those bins. Thirty years later, the co-op store expanded just a bit, but quinoa’s popularity has grown steadily and this pseudo-grain (actually a seed) now appears in mainstream supermarkets and on many restaurant menus.

Quinoa with Litehouse Italian Blend

Classified as a grain, quinoa is a whole food, and The National Health Information Center recommends eating more whole than refined grains for healthy diets. Since September is National Childhood Obesity Month, it’s a good time to offer recipes to families looking for healthy meal alternatives that include whole grains. During its 2013 “Launch of the International Year of Quinoa” in February, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)," dubbed quinoa the Andean Super Food since it holds promise as a food to help end world hunger and malnutrition. Quinoa is native to the Andes Mountain ranges of Peru and Bolivia and “is the only plant food that has all the essential amino acids, trace elements and vitamins,” according to the FAO. Quinoa’s mildly nutty flavor, light texture, and versatility make it a valuable pantry staple. It enriches soups, stands in for rice and pasta, and is a nutrient-rich ingredient in breads and desserts. Quinoa makes a good meat substitute too—one cup provides 16% of the daily allowance for protein. It’s also a gluten-free and high-fiber food, with 21% of one’s daily fiber allowance in a one-cup serving.

What I appreciate most about quinoa is its ability to readily absorb flavors, which makes it easier to create meals with familiar tastes that kids love. Here, I used Litehouse Instantly Fresh Italian Herb Blend along with quinoa, tomato sauce, green peas, diced tomatoes, and (sparingly) Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and Litehouse Gorgonzola Crumbles. Kids will recognize these flavors from pizza and lasagna, and parents will appreciate that quinoa has 36% fewer carbohydrates than pasta per one-cup serving. In addition, the glycemic load for quinoa is significantly lower than rice or pasta. The tiny seed that was once found primarily in specialty food stores is today so widely available that you’re likely to find it in your local supermarket. Introduce or reintroduce your kids to quinoa, paired with the fresh flavor of Litehouse Instantly Fresh Herbs and Litehouse Artisan Cheese.  Do you have a favorite Italian-style recipe featuring pasta or rice that you would like to try with quinoa instead? Please share your ideas.

Italian-Style Quinoa Loaf

Serves 6 | Finish in 50 minutes

Instantly Fresh Italian Blend, Litehouse Gorgonzola Crumbles, and other classic, Italian-inspired ingredients. This recipe makes a quinoa loaf that serves six, but since this dish freezes well, it’s great for make-ahead, portioned meals.


3 cups quinoa (rinsed in a fine-mesh strainer until water runs clear),
6 cups water,
24 ounces prepared tomato sauce,
1 large egg beaten,
2 cups frozen green peas, cooked,
1 15-ounce can unsalted, diced tomatoes drained,
1 ounce Litehouse Instantly Fresh Italian Blend (1/8 cup),
¼ teaspoon salt,
Non-stick cooking spray,
2 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese (optional),
1 ounce Litehouse Gorgonzola Crumbles


1. Put quinoa in large pot with water and bring to boil. Lower heat to simmer and place tight-fitting lid on pot. Continue cooking quinoa on low heat for 15-17 minutes until fluffy and quinoa appears translucent.
2. Add quinoa to large bowl. Pour in tomato sauce and beaten egg. Stir ingredients well and mix thoroughly with quinoa. Add peas and diced tomatoes and stir to distribute vegetables throughout quinoa.
3. Add Litehouse Instantly Fresh Italian Blend and salt to quinoa stir to distribute herbs and salt.
4. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray large baking dish with light coating of non-stick cooking spray. Pour one-half of mixture into baking dish. If adding Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, sprinkle it over quinoa. Pour remaining quinoa on top of Parmigiano Reggiano. Distribute Litehouse Gorgonzola Crumbles on top.
5. Bake for 20 minutes until edges appear browned and pull away from sides of baking dish. Insert a knife in middle of quinoa loaf; if it comes out clean, it’s done.

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