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How to cook quinoa – a straightforward tutorial to cook fluffy, flavorful little quinoa seeds cooked until translucent and popped open, preferably in a flavorful broth. Let’s learn how to cook perfect quinoa on stovetop in less than 20 minutes! Good news: it’s super easy!
Soggy, mushy, bitter, crunchy quinoa is definitely NOT what we want!
While light and fluffy in texture, quinoa is very filling and satisfying! It’s great as a side dish, or breakfast porridge, or even in a salad.
WHAT IS QUINOA?
Just like buckwheat, quinoa is a seed of a beautiful flowering plant. It’s considered a pseudocereal, which means it’s not a grass like wheat or rice, but consumed like a grain. That’s why it’s an amazing alternative to rice and other grains, if you’d like to diversify your diet.
By the way, it’s pronounced as keen-wa, not kwin-oh-a. But don’t laugh if you catch me saying “keen-oh-a”. Old habits die hard.
Most importantly, this super versatile “grain” is super nutritious, protein-rich and contains highest amount of fiber compared to most other grains.
IS QUINOA GLUTEN-FREE?
Yes, quinoa is naturally gluten-free. However, unless the package specifically labeled as gluten-free, there’s a chance they may have contaminated with other gluten products. So, to be sure, look for gluten-free label.
WHAT IS DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHITE AND RED QUINOA?
Interestingly, there’re over 100 varieties of quinoa. But red, white and black quinoa are the most popular varieties. White quinoa is milder, while red and black varieties are nuttier and earthier in flavor.
WHY QUINOA IS BITTER?
Quinoa seeds are coated with natural pesticide, called saponin, which is a natural chemical compound that adds bitter taste. Most of saponins, however, are removed during post-harvest processing, but it’s highly advised to rinse quinoa at home before cooking to remove any residue.
HOW TO COOK QUINOA?
- First, place dry quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse under running cold water to remove any residue of bitter-tasting natural coating, called saponins. Rinsing also removes any dirt and debri. Believe it or not, I’ve had some experience with sandy quinoa!
- Bring broth to a boil. Adding rinsed quinoa into a boiling water helps to avoid soggy grains. Ratio for quinoa and liquid is 1:2.
- Once you add the quinoa, bring the mixture to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Cooking quinoa on high heat won’t speed up the cooking, you’ll just end up with soggy, mushy, lumpy quinoa.
WHY MY QUINOA IS SOGGY/WET?
As mentioned above, cooking quinoa in a cold water could make the quinoa soggy. Also, cooking it too fast at too high heat can make the quinoa wet and mushy.
HOW TO ADD MORE FLAVOR TO QUINOA?
Unless you’re cooking quinoa for sweet breakfast, similar to oatmeal, I highly recommend cooking quinoa in a chicken/beef/vegetable broth with a pinch of salt, and additional seasoning, if desired.
Also, toasting quinoa before cooking enhances the nutty flavors! If you have extra few minutes, this step is highly recommended.
To toast quinoa, heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet and add rinsed quinoa. Toast the quinoa, stirring constantly, for a few minutes.
How to Cook Fluffy Flavorful Quinoa
- 2 cups chicken/beef/vegetable broth, Note 1
- 1 cup quinoa, Note 2
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- In a medium saucepan with a fitted lid, bring broth to a simmer over medium high.
- Meanwhile, rinse quinoa in a fine mesh sieve under cold water for couple of minutes. (This is essential to remove bitter-tasting natural coating, called saponin.
- Add rinsed quinoa and salt into simmering water. Give it a quick stir and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-15, or until broth is fully absorbed and quinoa seeds are translucent and popped open.
- Fluff with a fork and serve!