Trends and fads with health food tend to change every year, but one whole grain that’s sticking around is quinoa. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) is technically a seed, but it has many of the qualities of a grain. High in fiber and protein with plenty of vitamins and minerals, quinoa is great to incorporate into side and main dishes. It can be daunting to tackle cooking a new and unusual food, but follow these tips and you’ll get perfectly light and fluffy quinoa every time!
1. Shop smart.
Make sure you’re buying your quinoa in seed form. Grocery stores also sell quinoa flour and flakes, but these are for special recipes.
2. Rinse away.
Quinoa has a bitter coating on the tiny seeds that you won’t want to taste in your dish. Use a fine mesh strainer and rinse the seeds well.
3. Timing is everything.
The difference between perfect quinoa and overcooked mush is timing. Here’s a simple method to remember: Combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups liquid in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.
4. Flavor up with broth.
Quinoa can be cooked with water, but using vegetable or chicken broth can really amp up the flavor. You’ll be able to taste the difference in your final meal!
5. Don’t forget to drain.
Quinoa holds on to a lot of water, so break out the fine mesh strainer again and let the seeds drain.
6. Take a rest.
Let the quinoa sit in the saucepan for another 15 minutes. This dries out the seeds and prevents lumpy or mush quinoa.
Now that you have a pot of perfectly cooked quinoa, it’s time to decide what to do with it! You can use it in place of rice or couscous in main dishes, as a filler in burgers, in a new recipe like this one, or add some salt and olive oil and enjoy it straight from the pan!