How to Cook and Prepare Quinoa

How to Cook and Prepare Quinoa
How to Cook and Prepare Quinoa

Quinoa is a quintessential ingredient to have in the kitchen…at least in MY kitchen! This post is dedicated to all things quinoa. Quinoa is just as simple to cook as rice, and generally takes half the time to prepare. Learn some basic facts about this superfood and simple and easy instructions on how to cook and prepare quinoa, along with some delicious and nutritious recipes to get you started!

Lately everyone seems to be obsessed with so many “new” superfoods and more natural ingredients such as kale, palm sugar, hemp hearts, the list goes on and on.  On the contrary, many of these have been around for quite some time and only seem to have become mainstream overnight.  Rightfully so, cooking with these ingredients can be quite intimidating, especially for someone who is not uber-confident in the kitchen! I’d like to think that quinoa falls under this list. Firstly, the name itself is difficult to pronounce (it’s KEEN-wah…or “ke-mah” as my son says it!).  Secondly, it’s been dubbed a “superfood” which makes it seem even more daunting.

How to Cook and Prepare Quinoa

Over the last few years quinoa has made its way into almost every mainstream grocery store. It’s a popular gluten-free substitute to pasta and rice and is packed with protein and fiber. Its popularity has been steadily increasing as people discover its nutty flavour and versatility. Quinoa is flavourful, packed with protein, high in iron and fiber, and not to mention, very easy to prepare! Do you want to add quinoa to your recipe repertoire but just don’t know where to start? Here is some helpful information to get you started!

BASIC QUINOA FACTS:

How long does it take to cook quinoa?
It takes about 20 minutes to cook (covered) depending on the desired texture. (Cooking it uncovered will reduce cooking time to 12-15 minutes)

How much does 1 cup dry quinoa yield cooked? 
It yields about 3 cups cooked quinoa (depending on the amount of cooking liquid added).

What is the liquid to quinoa ratio?
The recommended ratio is 2:1, so 2 cups liquid yields 1 cup cooked. (If you’re making quinoa porridge or want a softer consistency, increase the ratio to 2 1/4 cups broth/water: 1 cup quinoa)

Why and how should I rinse quinoa?
Rinsing quinoa removes its bitter coating, called saponin.  Rinse it thoroughly with water in a fine-mesh strainer for a few minutes then drain.  (Be sure to check boxed packages as most have been pre-rinsed and are ready to cook, saving you that extra step!)

How do I season quinoa?
Quinoa, like pasta and rice, is a blank canvas.  Cooking it in vegetable broth instead of water adds much more flavour.  Also, you can add salt (1/4 tsp. per cup of cooked) or other herbs and spices during the cooking process to enhance the flavour.

Can I use my rice cooker to make quinoa?
I’ve never used a rice cooker to make quinoa myself but it can be done!  Follow the 2:1 ratio and the instructions on your rice cooker!  Also, I would reduce the cooking time to 15 minutes just to be sure not to overcook it!  (As it sits in the rice cooker it will continue to cook.)

Cooking Instructions:
1 cup quinoa
2 cups broth or water
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

1.) Rinse quinoa thoroughly with water.
2.) Add broth or water (and salt if desired) to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil on medium-high heat.

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3.) Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low, add quinoa and cook covered, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes (or a few minutes more or less, depending on the desired texture).

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4.) Once the water has evaporated, remove from heat and let stand for about 5 minutes.
5.) After letting it sit, fluff it up gently with a fork (as you would with couscous) before mixing with other ingredients and serving.

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