how to cook quinoa


I first learned how to cook quinoa about 10 years ago and have learned to love it for its unique flavor, texture, and its versatility. When I first heard of quinoa, I didn't quite know what to do with it.  The only place you could find it was at those really serious health food stores.  My friends never heard of it and my husband and kids refused to eat it.

Today, quinoa is everywhere and there are countless delicious recipes online. Its a basic staple around our house, and I use it to make great tasting side dishes, salads and main dishes at least once or twice a week.

If you are not familiar with quinoa or haven't had much practice using it, below are a few tips that will help you make great tasting quinoa.

Cleaning Quinoa

Quinoa has a natural protective coating called saponin which gives it a bitter flavor. Most packaged quinoa is pre-rinsed to remove the saponin, but if you're not sure, you can rinse it off yourself.

Just place the amount you need in a fine meshed strainer or a colander lined with cheese cloth or paper towel. Rinse in cold water for a few minutes until the foam disappears and the water runs clear. If you don't see any foam, most likely your quinoa was pre-rinsed.

Drain well.


Cooking Quinoa

Quinoa cooks quickly and when done appears slightly translucent with what looks like a small white tail or sprout.

Step 1: Place quinoa in pot and pour in liquid (1 1/2 parts water to 1 part quinoa). Step 2: Stir in salt and bring to a boil.

Step 3: Cover and simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes (until all liquid is absorbed).

Step 4: Turn off heat and let quinoa sit covered, for 5-10 minutes.

Step 5: Fluff-up quinoa with a fork separating grains and serve immediately or let cool and use later in a variety of recipes.

The above recipe is a basic quinoa recipe and is great for adding to salads or cooked dishes that are well seasoned.  If you want to use quinoa by itself as a side dish, there are many ways to step it up a bit for a richer taste.  A few suggestions:

  • Heat a cup of quinoa with a tablespoon of oil, until it begins making popping noises. If you rinsed your quinoa, this step will take at least 5 minutes until it dries and the grains separate. Add water and cook as above.
  • Use chicken stock or vegetable stock instead of water.
  • Add your favorite spices instead of just salt.
  • Saute chopped onions till golden before adding the quinoa.

Try these delicious quinoa recipes:

Fresh Herb Quinoa Salad

Quinoa & Lentil Pilaf

Quinoa isn't just easy to cook and great tasting, it's really good for you! Read about its outstanding nutritional value.

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