While quinoa used to just be that strange rice alternative that was only available in the health food aisle, it’s come a long way! Quinoa can now be found in many mainstream restaurants and is readily stocked on supermarket shelves alongside rice. However, while quinoa is an easy grain to love with its high protein content and sweet and nutty flavor, cooking it can seem like a bit of a challenge, with it being much more delicate than rice. In this article, we take a look at how to make sure your quinoa turns out delicate and fluffy every time.
Why Rinse Quinoa?
If you’re buying your quinoa from a bulk food store, it’s advisable to rinse it before you cook it. While this extra step is easy to ignore, you’ll likely notice a big difference in the taste of your quinoa if you choose to take those few extra minutes.
Emily Han of TheKitchn.com explains the reasoning behind rinsing your quinoa before adding it into the saucepan:
“Quinoa has a natural coating, called saponin, that can make the cooked grain taste bitter or soapy. Luckily, it’s easy to get rid of this coating by rinsing the quinoa just before cooking. Boxed quinoa is often pre-rinsed, but it doesn’t hurt to give the seeds an additional rinse at home. Some cookbooks suggest soaking the quinoa, but in our experience this is unnecessary.”
Combine Quinoa and Liquid in a Saucepan
Although cooking quinoa usually does not take as long as cooking rice, you will combine it in a saucepan with your chosen liquid in the same way, bringing it to a boil before placing the lid on. However, many chefs choose to cook their quinoa with a liquid that is a little more flavorful than water to bring out and enhance the flavor of the quinoa.
Becky Hughes of Epicurious.com tells us more on how to perfectly cook quinoa:
“Now that your quinoa is rinsed or toasted, it’s time to cook it. For 1 cup of uncooked quinoa, you’ll want to use 2 cups of water—this will yield 3 cups of cooked quinoa. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the temperature to medium-low and pop the lid on securely. You can also use vegetable or chicken broth in place of water to give the quinoa a richer flavor (the ratio of liquid to grain is the same: two cups of liquid for every one cup of quinoa).”
Watch the Time
If it’s your first time cooking quinoa, you might not expect it to cook as quickly as it does. As a result of its quick cooking time, it is incredibly easy to overcook your quinoa, so closely watching the time is critical.
Gimme Some Oven explains how to make sure you’re giving your quinoa just the right amount of time to cook in the saucepan:
“Quinoa cooks quickly–in about 20 minutes, start to finish. Some package directions tell you to turn off the heat once the liquid boils and you’ve stirred in the grain. We prefer to bring the cooking liquid to a boil, stir in the grain, then turn the heat down to low, cover and simmer gently, until all the liquid is absorbed. You’ll know it’s done because it will look like it has popped open, revealing the germ of the kernel.”
If you’re looking for more recipe inspiration or you want to see where you can enjoy perfectly cooked quinoa at your favorite restaurant, check out our list of all restaurants to compare food menus.