How to Cook Quinoa

Whenever I mention the word Quinoa, my sister quite literally says, “whatever”. Why? Because she says it’s a fickle grain to cook. It’s never consistent and sometimes mushy. I must admit that in the beginning, I also had a hard time cooking Quinoa. But I’m going to admit, that I never paid careful attention to the package instructions either. I assumed I could cook it like rice and well maybe the technical method is the same, the difference is the quinoa and water heat up together, boil and cook. So for me, this is the best method I have found to cook this versatile pseudograin .

I have several recipes that call for quinoa. By now I’ve gotten much better and have it well, dialed in. So for today’s quick tutorial, I’m going to show you how to cook quinoa, my best method, which also happens to be on the stove top.

What is Quinoa exactly?

This is a true superfood. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) is an ancient grain from South America. So let’s unpack the nutrients found is this pseudograin: Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Folate, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Thiamin, Riboflavin and Vitamin B6. If this isn’t enough, 1 cup comes in at 220 calories with 8 grams of protein, 4 grams of fat and 5 grams of fiber. Yet one more fun fact: Quinoa is one of the only plant sources that provides all of the amino acids in one food source. So for those friends who are vegetarian or vegan, this is an excellent food source to provide essential amino acids.

There are two kinds of Quinoa that a readily available: tri-color and white. The difference between the two is that the tri-color mix, includes white, black and red quinoa. There are nuances between the three colors are small. The white cooks up the fluffiest. The red has a slightly more intense taste and the black a more earthy taste. Both to me seem a bit more dense to chew as well. I do have a preference to the tri-color to mix into other dishes as it seems to hold up better.

Tips for Cooking

An important factor in cooking this grain is rinsing it well. And I mean well. If you place the fine mesh strainer over a bowl and rinse the quinoa, you will notice the water is cloudy. You have to rinse it about 1 full minute for the water to be clear.

Second, the quinoa and the water have to come to a boil together. This just works better for the grain to cook perfectly.

Third, a pot with a tight lid is very helpful.

Fourth, allow it to sit for a few minutes after the heat source has shut off.

And fifth, fluff with a fork after it’s ready. This reduces the clumps later when you are trying to use if for another dish like a salad.

One of my favorite recipes for quinoa, Pan Roasted Vegetable Quinoa with Feta and another favorite is Warm Quinoa with Roasted Asparagus. If your prefer a cold salad, my Colorful Superfood Spinach Salad.

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