Welcome to our blog on How to Cook Quinoa. We give you the low down on what it is, what types you can get, how to store it and prepare it. We’ll also show you the best cooking method for cooking Quinoa and share some fabulous recipes so you can experiement in using it for yourself.
It’s a Super Food so it is worthwhile giving it a go!
What is Quinoa (pronounced Keen Wah):
Quinoa is a crop native to South America that has been around for thousands of years. The seeds are harvested and eaten as a grain, which is now thought to be a super food due to its many nutritional benefits; therefore it’s great for healthy recipes.
It is said to have the highest amount of protein of all the whole grains.
It is also high in fibre, iron and many vitamins.
It is also gluten and cholesterol free.
Types of Quinoa:
White quinoa is the most readily available type sold in Australia, but there is also red and black quinoa. You can find white quinoa in the health food sections of most large supermarkets or in health food stores. White quinoa is also available as flour or in flake form, which is all gluten free and can be use for cooking in a variety of ways. The flakes are useful for thickening soups and casseroles and can also be eaten as porridge.
You can also find cereals made with quinoa in the gluten free sections of supermarkets.
It is best stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator to prevent it going rancid due to its relatively high oil content.
Quinoa has a natural bitter coating called saponin which needs to be removed before eating. Most quinoa sold in Australia has been pre-rinsed, but it is still advisable to wash it well under running water or soak it prior to cooking.
I like to rinse then soak quinoa for 30 – 60 mins prior to cooking as I think it reduces the cooking time and gives a better result.
Quinoa is very similar to rice and can be cooked by boiling, steaming or by the absorption method. It can also be cooked ‘pilaf’ style by frying it with flavourings and spices then adding liquid to absorb. Although it has a subtle nutty flavour, quinoa on its own it can be very bland, so using stock instead of water gives it a lovely savoury taste.
To cook quinoa by the absorption method, is as simple as adding 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups liquid, which will give you about 3 cups of cooked quinoa.
After rinsing well and soaking, place the quinoa in a saucepan with the liquid and bring to the boil. As it reaches the boil you can give it a quick stir, then put the lid on and turn down to a gentle simmer.
TIP: You can also do the same process by using a rice cooker.
TIP: A Chef once told me to put the Quinoa into already boiling stock, then simmer which also works really well.
Cook for approx 15 mins till the liquid is absorbed and the little curl appears around the seed which is the germ ring separating. Then put a clean tea towel over the saucepan, put the lid firmly on top and let it stand for at least 5 minutes before serving.
There are many quinoa recipes; however, here are a few tips for using and flavouring quinoa.
– Use it as a side for saucy dishes
– Make Quinoa salads with roasted vegetables, fetta and balsamic dressing
– Mexican salad with coriander, spinach, roasted corn, chilli and dressing.
– Mediterranean salad with basil, roasted capsicum, garlic, buffalo mozzarella
– Indian pilaf with garlic, onion, chilli, spices, chicken and spinach
– Use as a base for stuffing mix
– Use in soups, like using barley (quinoa flakes can also be used as a thickener)
– It can be prepared as porridge for a gluten free alternative
– It can also be frozen when cooked for use later
Quinoa has become a favourite in our household, even with my 5 yr old. So I am now trying new an interesting ways of using such a nutritional product.
What you will need:
Saucepan with lid or a Rice Cooker
Tea towel (or paper towel)
Recipes we like:
Image courtesy of BBC Good Food.