How to Cook the Perfect Pot of Quinoa

I love quinoa, I really do.  Even though some foodie websites proclaim that this mighty grain has jumped the shark, I can argue with zeal that quinoa's day has yet to come. Quinoa is a whole grain, high in protein, GMO-free, gluten-free and a superior plant protein.  It doesn't get much better than that when it comes to the food we need to be eating to stay healthy and well.

If you have a  lonely bag of quinoa sitting in the back of your cabinet, take it out.  I am going to show you how to make a perfect pot of quinoa and then give you a few ideas of what you can do with it.

First, know that quinoa comes in a couple colors and it doesn't matter what color you have, they all cook up the same way.  The only difference is in taste.  Black quinoa is a bit more earthy and strong tasting than red quinoa, which is a bit earthier than white quinoa.  Today I used a quinoa blend.


One thing I love about quinoa is that it cooks up quickly, 20 minutes simmering on the stove, and voila, quinoa.  But here is a secret to making quinoa go from good to perfect.  First, make sure you rinse your quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer with cold running water.   I emphasize the word fine because you do not want to make the mistake of using the same colander that you use for your pasta. The holes are too big and the quinoa will fall through in a flash. Quinoa contains compounds called saponins that will make the grain taste bitter if not rinsed well.

Next, heat a tablespoon or two of extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat in the pan that you are going to cook the quinoa.  You can use coconut oil or organic canola oil as well, whatever oil you like.quinoa8

Now, add the quinoa and sauté for a few minutes, stirring and coating the grains with the oil. The oil helps toast the quinoa to bring out its nutty flavor, but more important, it helps separate the grains in order to prevent them from lumping together.  Isn't that nice of the oil to do that? 


Next, add double the amount of water as you have quinoa, a healthy dash of salt, bring to a boil, then cover and bring down to a simmer. In no time you will have a pot of perfect quinoa. You can do this with other grains too.  It takes them from lumpy and sticky to light and fluffy.


always double, or even triple, any grain I make because I know I can use it for dinner, next day's breakfast and even lunch.  Here are some ideas as to what to do with your perfect pot of quinoa.

Make this recipe for Stir-Fried Quinoa with Tofu and Red Peppers.  I made this the other night for dinner and it was fabulous.  Quinoa makes a perfect stand-in for traditional brown rice.  I actually like it even better than rice in stir fries.

If you have had it with your bowl of oatmeal in the morning, almost all other whole grains make a perfect substitute.  Try this recipe, for a Quinoa Breakfast Bowl.  And if you already have cooked quinoa, no worries. Just simmer it in some almond, coconut, soy or regular milk.  The grain will absorb the liquid and make it nice and creamy.

How do you love to make quinoa?  Are you a quinoa newbie?  Share with me in the comments below and let's keep the conversation going!

If you interested in learning more about whole grains and you are local, sign up for my next cooking class Whole Grains Demystified on March 21st.  Click HERE for all the details.

Heather Carey, M.S.

Culinary Nutritionist

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