Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is an amino acid-rich (protein) seed that has a creamy, slightly crunchy texture and somewhat of a nutty flavor once cooked. While many people think quinoa is a grain, it is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. Quinoa was originally cultivated in South America and was once considered a sacred food to native Indians. Quinoa is gluten-free and a source of vegetable protein which is essential for vegans and vegetarians.Versatile, healthy and delicious, quinoa is a great pantry staple, but a lot of cooks are unsure of how exactly to prepare quinoa.
Rinse quinoa seeds
Quinoa seeds are coated with a natural, soapy substance known as saponin. While the majority of it is rinsed off during processing, home cooks should wash them thoroughly to remove residue. Ideally, you should place quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer and rinse with cold water, gently rubbing the seeds together with your hands. If saponins have not been removed, quinoa will taste bitter.
To cook the quinoa, add one part of the grain to two parts liquid in a saucepan. The grains will expand during cooking. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cover. One cup of quinoa cooked in this method usually takes 15 minutes to prepare. When cooking is complete, the grains will be translucent an the white germ will be partially detached.
If you like the rich, nutty flavor that quinoa brings to the table, you might prefer to dry roast it prior to cooking. Place on a skillet over medium-high heat and stir constantly for five minutes.
Treat quinoa like rice
Karina Allrich, of the popular blog Gluten-Free Goddess, cooks her quinoa in a rice cooker. For every one cup of quinoa, add two cups of water, follow the instructions on your machine and you can go about dinner as you normally would. How is that for easy?
Think outside the box
Quinoa can be eaten plain but I can’t imagine why you would when there are so many fantastic recipes to choose from. Think of quinoa as breakfast, lunch or dinner!