How to Cook Quinoa
Quinoa is definitely a popular food right now. I mean, what’s not to like? It’s gluten-free, protein rich, vegetarian, a non-GMO ancient grain and tastes great. I don’t think you can hit any other hot button terms. I’m sure the ancient Andean peoples would be amused by how “new” and trendy quinoa is, since it has been harvested and eaten there for thousands of years.
Because quinoa is also a complete protein, meaning it provides the complete nine essential amino acids, it’s a great option for meatless Monday meals or for vegetarians and vegans. I bring my Mediterranean quinoa salad with chickpeas to pot lucks a lot because I know that it fits into almost every kind of diet – and it’s delicious. Another bonus!
How to cook quinoa:
Cooking quinoa is very similar to cooking rice. The liquid to water ratio is the same, two parts liquid to one part quinoa. As an aside, that 2 to 1 ratio is also the same for cooking old fashioned oats. That makes things easier to remember! You’ll then simmer the quinoa for 20 minutes or so, let it rest for 10 minutes, and you are ready to go.
I think the key to this basic is to make sure you rinse it really well before you start cooking. I use a fine mesh sieve because the dried quinoa is so small, it will go right through the holes of a colander. If you skip this rinsing step, it may lead to a bitter aftertaste in the cooked quinoa. Quinoa comes in a variety of colors, the most popular is white, but red is becoming almost as common.
There is no taste difference in the colors, so many people choose the color they think would look best in the dish they are making. I like using white where I might substitute quinoa for mashed potatoes or noodles (see pesto quinoa with roasted mushrooms), and red where I want a pop of color, like in a simple quinoa side salad.
You can make quinoa very simply with just water and salt, or you can take a few extra steps and give it more flavor. Using a cooking method similar to making a pilaf, as in my Savory Red Quinoa recipe, you can add onion and garlic or other veggies. You can also make the quinoa in advance because it keeps well in the fridge.
Try this versatile grain soon. You can use it as a side dish with dinner, throw it into salads for heartiness and protein, or use it as the base for a main dish!
- 1 cup of quinoa, red or white
- 2 cups water or stock
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Bring the water or stock and quinoa and salt to a boil in a 2 quart saucepan.
- Reduce the heat to low and cover.
- Simmer for 20 minutes, remove cover and use a fork to look at the bottom of the pan to see if the liquid has been absorbed. If there is still liquid, place the cover back on and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
- If the liquid is absorbed, place cover back on the pan. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Remove cover, fluff with a fork, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve!