QUINOA: Plain and Simple Quinoa

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa

1 1/4 cold filtered water

Note: Most package directions say to add twice as much water as quinoa, but that results in soggy quinoa — not what you want. If you use less water, it’s so much better. Lieberman and O’Connor, authors of The 10 Things You Need to Eat (a good primer on 10 healthy foods and creative ways you can use them in cooking;  published in 2010)  say that you should use just one and a quarter cups water to one cup of quinoa. I tried cooking quinoa their way (after cooking with too much water for a long time) and voila, great quinoa! Finally light and fluffy, not heavy and soggy!

Directions #1 – for cooking quinoa to serve as a hot side dish

  • Unless the package says that the quinoa has already been rinsed, rinse the quinoa in cold water until the water runs clear, and this may take five or more changes of water. It helps to use your hands and rub the quinoa grains against each other as you rinse them. Rinsing removes the outer slightly bitter, soapy coating. Drain the quinoa.
  • Place the rinsed and drained quinoa and the water in a heavy pot (for example, an enamel coated cast iron pot). Bring the water to a simmer. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and then cover the pot.
  • Cook covered, for 20-25 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender but still chewy and a white spiral-like thread appears around each grain.
  • Uncover the pot and fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork.
  • Let the cooked quinoa sit for a few minutes (to let off steam) before serving.

Directions #2 – for cooking quinoa to serve in a salad

This preparation makes for fluffy and dry quinoa which is what you need to absorb the dressing and give flavor to the salad.

  • Place the drained quinoa into a pan and add water to cover the quinoa by about 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil and then boil gently for 8 minutes.
  • Drain the quinoa in a sieve and rinse under cold running water.
  • Place the sieve with the drained quinoa over a pan of boiling water, making sure that the quinoa does not touch the water. Cover the sieve with a kitchen towel and then place the lid on the pan.
  • Bring the water in the pan to a gentle boil and boil for about 10 minutes – steaming the quinoa.
  • Note: Check the water level in the pan after about 5 minutes to make sure there’s enough water to boil for the remaining time; if not, add more.

Directions #3 – Quick and easy – my new favorite way to cook quinoa!

  • After a friend told me she always cooks quinoa in her rice cooker, I gave it a try. Wow, it worked! I’m going to make it this way from now on! By the way, I used 1 cup of dry quinoa to 1 3/4 cups water.

What to do with quinoa?

  • How about a plate of quinoa topped with pasta sauce and some veggies on the side? Yesterday, while foraging in the refrigerator at home, my daughter fixed herself the plate of food you see pictured at the top of this page: quinoa topped with pasta sauce and topped with quinoa, shitake mushrooms (just reconstituted shitakes), and steamed frozen asparagus.
  • Mix cooked quinoa with Sundried Tomato Flavor Cubes or Sauted Herb Flavor Cubes – yum!
  • For a powerhouse breakfast, mix cooked quinoa with cooked steel-cut oatmeal, add some almond or skim milk plus all the fixings. A great breakfast – or snack. Just keep cooked quinoa and cooked steel-cut oatmeal in your refrigerator, and you can fix a bowl of this delicious and nutritious quin-oat porridge anytime!
  • Here’s the Quinoa and Black Bean Salad recipe I served at a recent picnic – a big hit! I made my quinoa salad exactly as the recipe recommends, except without the pickled jalapeno chilies. In general, pickled foods should not be part of an anti-cancer diet. Although Dr. Servan-Schreiber does not talk about pickled foods in his book (he can’t cover everything!), it’s been know for a long time that picked foods increase the risk of developing stomach cancer. In fact, for an epidemiology class in graduate school, I even did a paper on that very topic back in the 1970’s! See Medline Plus for information on stomach cancer and it’s risk factors.

Can you freeze quinoa?

Yes, definitely. Cooked quinoa freezes very well.

More information about quinoa

Quinoa.net A great site for more information about quinoa, including cooking directions for the microwave and rice cooker as well as the stove top (uses more water than I suggest, but you might like that better). In addition, great photos of the people who plant and harvest the quinoa you enjoy.

Enjoy and be healthy!

Leni

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16 thoughts on “QUINOA: Plain and Simple Quinoa

  1. Yes, I love quinoa…..and I’ve noticed that quinoa can be purchased now in 3 different colors: regular, red and black. I presume each has a somewhat different nutritional content. It’s a nice addition to any kitchen!

    1. Hi Shelley,
      Thanks for telling us about the 3 colors of quinoa – regular (light tan), red and black. Apparently, the ancestral seed color of Quinoa is black and the other colors have been obtained from mutations and breeding. . I don’t know if there’s a nutritional difference between quinoa of different colors…but I doubt it. And…if anyone finds out more about the nutritional differences (if any) of the different varieties of quinoa, please post that information here. Thanks!
      Enjoy and be healthy!
      Leni

  2. I just made another batch of quinoa…and what I noticed is that when the cooking time was up, it was too moist and quite compacted, not light and fluffy. I chose not to cook it any longer because I didn’t want to risk burning it or turning it into a bunch of mush. Instead, I took a big casserole dish and emptied all of the cooked quinoa into the dish, and then spread the qunioa out so that the excess moisture could evaporate. After the quinoa had cooled, it was light and fluffy — like I wanted it to be.

    It worked for me; maybe it will work for you!

    And…later after dinner, I put the leftover quinoa into a glass storage container in the refrigerator.

    Enjoy and be healthy!
    Leni

  3. hi leni–after reading your blog and talking with a friend, I finally tried quinoa–I had been so reluctant to do so in the past–it looked mushy–but I loved it! I just topped it like I do rice–with sauted veges with lots of garlic and ginger and it was sooooo good! I really like the consistancy of the quinoa and the taste is very subtle. thanks so much…

    1. Hi Judye,
      I’m glad you liked it! Like you, I hadn’t tried quinoa until recently, but once I tried it I discovered I loved it! And, as you said, it’s very versatile and pairs well with sauted and seasoned veggies. By the way, quinoa freezes well, so if it’s a favorite at your house, you can make a lot at once and freeze the extra for use later. Of course, making a fresh batch of quinoa isn’t hard or time consuming, but defrosting frozen quinoa in the microwave is still faster.
      Enjoy and be healthy,
      Leni

  4. Hi Len,

    I love quinoa and appreciated the information on this food…just looking for additional recipes. I’ll be using it more often. Thanks!
    Sue Lautin

    1. Hi Sue!
      Thanks for your comment. Glad the quinoa post was helpful to you. You might want to try using quinoa mixed with steel-cut oatmeal for breakfast. And to make it creamy mix in some fat-free ricotta cheese and a little skim milk. I really like this combination, especially with some cinnamon and raisins.
      ~Leni

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