If you can remember back to 2013 it was the international year of quinoa, as declared by the United Nations. It was then that my love hate relationship with quinoa began.
Quinoa was the new superfood. For at least 2 years I couldn't pick up a cooking magazine, turn on the TV or surf the internet without being confronted with quinoa. There were so many recipes available and celebrity chefs cooking it in a multitude of ways. Why was I having so much trouble liking it and cooking with it?
I really wanted to like quinoa because of its nutritional value. It’s the perfect protein and is a healthy choice for everyone from meat eaters to vegetarians to vegans. Quinoa is a non GMO food, is high in fibre, contains vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids that our bodies need to be healthy. What did I have to do to turn it from mush into something I wanted to eat because it tasted good, not just because I wanted to improve my diet.
What I came to realize is that I just wasn’t treating the quinoa properly. There are a couple of tricks to cooking perfect quinoa.
1. The first trick for good (great!) quinoa is to rinse it well before cooking. This removes the bitter coating (saponins) and you might want to rinse 2 or 3 times, changing the water in between rinses.
2. Cook it uncovered until the water is absorbed. The ratio of water to quinoa is the same as cooking with rice. To change up the flavour try substituting plain water with chicken or vegetable stock. Whichever liquid you choose you need twice as much as the quinoa.
One cup quinoa needs two cups of water/stock. I add a bit of kosher salt as well. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a simmer. This should take about 15 minutes. Keep in mind that smaller quantities will cook faster and larger batches will take a bit longer, so keep your eyes on the pot.
3. When the quinoa is cooked remove it from the heat and cover for 5 minutes before using. The steam will open up the quinoa improving the texture and NO MUSH!
This is the method that works best for me and can be used with all types of quinoa, red, white and black. Fluff it up with a fork and use it hot or cold. Quinoa will be safe in the refrigerator for about 5 days.
I’ve come to realize quinoa really is amazingly versatile. Add fresh herbs, spinach, kale, avocado, parmesan cheese, feta or goat cheese. One of my favourites is Quinoa, Spinach Avocado & Feta salad
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