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How To Make The Most Out Of Quinoa

By Erika Kubick in Food on Feb 24, 2014 7:30PM

Everybody is eating quinoa right now and it's easy to see why. The grain is fluffy with a slightly sweet and nutty flavor, unless you cook it wrong. Without the right technique, quinoa can be gritty, bitter, mushy and bland. If you're aching to add this nutrient gold mine to your diet, follow our guide to making the fluffiest, most delicious quinoa in 25 minutes. Let's get cooking!

You will need:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 teaspoon butter or olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup cooking liquid
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Sauce pan

Photo 1. Rinse your quinoa well. Quinoa has a bitter and gritty outer coating called saponin, which needs to be rinsed away before cooking. Pour the quinoa into a fine mesh strainer and rinse it under cold water for 30 seconds, swirling the quinoa around for an even rinse. Shake off any excess water.
Photo 2. Toast it. Heat oil or butter in a sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add the quinoa and stir it until the water evaporates and the oil is absorbed, about 2 minutes.
Photo 3. Add 1 1/2 cup liquid. Most quinoa packages suggest adding 2 cups of liquid, but don't do it! That is a recipe for a water-logged quinoa that tastes like bad microwaved oatmeal.
Photo 4. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. The moment the liquid reaches a boil, cover the pot and lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Pay close attention here: if the liquid boils for too long, the quinoa will not cook evenly. Cook for 15 minutes, covered and untouched, until the moisture is absorbed and little spirals are released from the seeds. Resist the temptation to peek under the lid and interfere with the cooking process!
Photo 5. Let it rest. Once your quinoa has finished cooking, turn off the heat and let it rest for 5 - 10 minutes, covered. This lets the quinoa dry out slightly, so it's not a mushy mass. Don't lift the lid! Your quinoa needs that steam.
Photo 6. Fluff it up. Once your quinoa is well rested, lift the cover and fluff it gently with a fork. Don't use a spoon, which can crush the grain. Add some salt and pepper and toss your quinoa with roasted vegetables for a light lunch or use it in place of rice in a stir fry!

Hungry for more? Here is everything that you need to know about quinoa:

  • It's pronounced KEEN-WAH.

  • Known as "the gold of the Incas" and the "mother grain," quinoa has been cultivated in the Andes for over 5,000 years.

  • There are about 1,800 varieties of quinoa, but there usually three types found in markets: white, red, and black

  • It's a complete plant protein, meaning it has all 9 amino acids. Vegans rejoice!

  • While it's cooked like a grain, quinoa is actually a seed and is completely gluten-free!

  • One cup of quinoa has about 8 grams of protein, 185 grams of iron (15 percent DV), 5 grams of protein and 118 milligrams magnesium for only 222 calories!

  • Experiment with your quinoa by using a variety of cooking liquids and adding aromatics. Cooking quinoa in water works fine, but you can make it tastier with different liquids like using stocks, wine, beer and juices. You can also add aromatics like cloves or smashed garlic, but remember to remove after the quinoa has cooked. We love to cook our quinoa with apple cider and half a cinnamon stick.