Quinoa: You’re Probably Cooking It Wrong

Quinoa is nothing new. It’s been in vogue for years now and doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. You have probably heard that it’s a complete protein, and maybe even know that it’s not actually a grain, but a seed. There’s a solid list of reasons why quinoa has become so popular, from nutritional benefits to versatility and taste.

I’ve been cooking quinoa for quite some time now, and for too long it never turned out as good as I hoped. Too soft or mushy despite my careful attention to follow the instructions on the package exactly. I tried cooking it for 20 minutes, 15 minutes, 10 minutes, and it still didn’t seem right. What was I doing wrong?

My answer came when I found this article on CNN’s Eatocracy: “We regret to inform you that you’ve been cooking quinoa incorrectly.” Yes I had been! Chances are, you are too.

There’s a couple secrets you need to learn to take your quinoa to the next level:

1. Use half as much water as the recipe calls for.

Yes, really. Halve the amount of water. Most recipes call for 2 cups of water per 1 cup of quinoa, but the 1-to-1 ration actually yields better results. Eatocracy explains:

“When quinoa first started getting popular, there was variability in the product; it wasn’t always fully dried. So importers decided that a 2-to-1 ratio of water to quinoa—when cooked using the absorption method—would be a safe recommendation. This was disseminated as the tried-and-true ratio, but in our testings we found we could cut it in half, seeing as most of the quinoa you can buy today is evenly dried.”

2. Dry-toast the quinoa before cooking.

Add quinoa to the pan – without any oil – and toast it before cooking. Toast quinoa over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes prior to adding any water to bring out a delicious, nutty flavor and prevent bitterness.

Follow the recipe below for the right proportions and technique to ensure your quinoa is top-notch.

Basic Quinoa

Serves 4

• 1 cup quinoa
• 1 cup water (or broth)
• 1/2 tsp salt

1. Rinse quinoa.
2. Toast quinoa in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, until fragrant and begins to pop, about 5 minutes.
3. Add water (or broth) and salt, and bring to a simmer.
4. Cover pan and turn the heat down to low, simmering until the quinoa is tender and the liquid is absorbed, 18-20 minutes.
5. Remove the pan from heat and let sit, covered, for 5-10 minutes.
6. Fluff quinoa with fork and serve!

This most basic quinoa recipe serves as a great base to build on. Stir in olive oil, herbs, sauteed onions and garlic once the quinoa is finished cooking. Or, let cool, add fresh chopped veggies and dress with a little vinaigrette.


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