Perfectly prepared quinoa isn’t bitter or mushy. It’s delicate but firm, a lovely base for a meal. Here’s how to prepare perfect fluffy quinoa.
You have to rinse raw quinoa. Ever since the first time I made quinoa, that instruction has stood out in my head. It’s essential. It rinses the bitterness from the quinoa. No matter how busy you are, you mustn’t skip the rinsing of the quinoa.
Oh, quinoa. How I love it. Of all the grains I wrote about in Grains as Mains, it’s the one I continue to use most often in our meals. It’s quick and easy and so adaptable to flavors.
There are so many ways to enjoy quinoa. I sometimes will make a batch and use it for lunches at work throughout the week. Sometimes we use it in place of rice, such as for cilantro lime quinoa with tacos or as a basis for a grain bowl. We also make a variety of quinoa salads with it as well. Plus, it makes a good side dish on its own merit too.
What is Quinoa?
Often considered a grain, quinoa is a seed. The plant is botanically related to amaranth and spinach. It’s also super nutritious. According to Reader’s Digest: “Pronounced “keen-wah,” this protein-packed grain contains every amino acid, and is particularly rich in lysine, which promotes healthy tissue growth throughout the body. Quinoa is also a good source of iron, magnesium, vitamin E, potassium, and fiber.”
Quinoa can be used as rice is: to make grain bowls, to serve with stir-fries, even to make a fried rice-style dish.
How to Make Quinoa
Start with the quinoa. You’ll want to measure out how much you want to use. I typically cook 1 cup at a time, which yields four hearty servings. But you can adjust that up or down, depending on your needs. Once you’ve measured your quinoa, rinse it thoroughly in a fine-mesh strainer under cool water. If you have a spray nozzle, I highly recommend using it as it works better to clean the quinoa than a stream of water.
Now, it’s time to get the quinoa ready to cook. Combine the quinoa with water and salt in a saucepan. Use two parts water for every one part quinoa and a pinch of salt. In real measurements, that means use 2 cups of water to cook 1 cup of quinoa. Give it a gentle stir.
Now, place the pan on a burner and heat to boiling. I typically will turn the burner on high to do so, but you need to pay attention to the quinoa while its cooking. As soon as the water is boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. This is important to avoid burning. Cook the quinoa for 15 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat. Fluff with a fork.
Now, the quinoa is cooked and ready to serve. You can eat it plain, dress it up with butter and salt, use it in salads or as you would rice and so much more. How will you enjoy your perfect fluffy quinoa?
More Quinoa Recipes
- Cilantro Lime Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes
- Avocado and Shrimp Cilantro Lime Quinoa Bowl
- Asian Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes, Parsnips and Arugula
- Thai Red Curry with Roasted Vegetables over Quinoa
- Garlic, Basil and Parmesan Quinoa
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of four cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to a tween and a teen, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.