How to cook quinoa

Fluffy, nutty and nutritious

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Quinoa is the latest protein-packed super-food that's made its way to regular grocery store shelves. Sadly, many are still intimidated by this vitamin- and mineral-rich seed. But it's actually no more difficult to cook than rice!

We recommend cooking up a big pot of quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) once a week and storing it to eat the rest of the week. Serve it up with some fresh grilled veggies and leftover grilled chicken, eat it in place of rice or in a salad.

While there are almost 2,000 varieties of quinoa, the most common varieties sold in the U.S. are white (most common), red and black. These instructions will work no matter what type you try.

How to cook fluffy, delicious quinoa

If you cook quinoa improperly, it can become mushy and taste bitter. If you've tried it before and decided you didn't like it for that reason, we recommend you try it again. This time, following these steps to quality quinoa.

Ingredients:

  • 1 part quinoa
  • Olive oil
  • 2 parts liquid (water or stock)
  • Salt (1/4 teaspoon per cup of quinoa), spices or aromatics (optional)

Supplies:

  • Fine-mesh strainer
  • Large pot with lid or sauté pan and rice cooker
  • Large (wooden) spoon

Directions:

  1. Using the strainer, rinse the quinoa with cool water well. This will remove the natural coating (called saponin), which is what makes the quinoa taste bitter. We recommend a rinsing even if you purchase pre-rinsed quinoa. Set the quinoa aside to fully drain.
  2. Heat the olive oil in the large pot (or sauté pan if you're using a rice cooker) to medium-high heat. Add the drained quinoa and stir continuously for 1 minute. This will allow the quinoa to dry and slightly toast.
  3. Add your liquid and any salt, spices or aromatics. If you're using a rice cooker, you can transfer the quinoa to that then add the additional ingredients.
  4. If you're using a rice cooker, follow the cooker's instructions. If you're cooking it on the stovetop, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Turn the head off and remove the pot from the burner. Do not remove the lid! Allow it to stand for 5 minutes.
  6. Fluff the quinoa with a fork. You'll see the germ in the form of small spirals begin to curl around the quinoa seeds.

Be careful how much quinoa you cook. A single cup of uncooked quinoa becomes three cups cooked. After you learn to cook it perfectly, try substituting it for rice or pasta in your favorite dishes.

Recipes using quinoa

Vegan apple quinoa cake
Sunday Dinner: Quinoa salad recipe with radishes and feta
Quinoa recipes: Gluten-free and easy

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix the Fish. You can follow her on Twitter @HireHeather.

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