Perfect Quinoa 101 April 08, 2014 10:34

What in the world is quinoa anyway? 2013 was declared the The International Year of Quinoa. Did you miss the memo?  If you haven't yet tried this remarkable super-grain you're going to be in for a few surprises.  We hear a lot of questions about how to cook it and what to do with it. Enough so, that we had three classes on how to cook it and add it to your healthy life. Here's what you should know about the nutrition of Quinoa. 

It is a complete protein and a wonderful source of fiber. How do you cook it?

You will always need to rinse and drain quinoa thoroughly in cold water before cooking, unless it is in a package that says, "pre-rinsed". It is easiest rinsed in in a  finer meshed colander. This is a smaller grain and it will easily slip through the cracks. 


Rinsing is not an optional step. Why?

In its natural state quinoa has a coating of saponins, which gives it a bitter taste. This bitterness can have beneficial effects in terms of cultivation, as it is a crop that is relatively untouched by birds and thus requires minimal protection. The presence of saponin is obvious by the production of a soapy looking "suds". This also represents the major antinutritional factor found in the grain. Fortunately, most of these saponins are concentrated in the outer layers of the grain (seed coat, and a cuticle-like layer) which facilitates their removal industrially by washing the grains with water. (See more here).

Basic Quinoa 2 cups red or white quinoa, rinsed well 4 cups water or chicken broth
salt to taste

Directions: 
Pressure Cooker: In a 2 1/2 liter pressure cooker add the Basic Quinoa ingredients. Bring to a boil. Seal lid and pressure at high for 5 minutes. Allow pressure to drop on its own. Store cooled quinoa in the fridge for up to a week. 


Conventional:  In a 1 and a half quart (6 cups) capacity heavy pot with a tight fitting lid, boil the water and the salt, that is when the bubbles don't stop even when you stir it. Add the grain, cover the pot, and turn the burner to the lowest setting. Set your timer for 15 minutes. Don't stir it. Just let it simmer. This will produce perfect grain every time if you follow the instructions.

Now, if you feel pretty crazy and confident, try using chicken or vegetable broth in place of the water. It will add a lot of flavor. Some people don't like a flavor to their grain, beside the grain. We also like using coconut milk in place of the water in Hawaiian dinners, along with 1/4 cup minced onion. Garlic adds a nice touch too, even just one or two cloves pressed into the broth as you add the grain.

One final note. You can use quinoa any where you use rice. It is also remarkable added to your baked goods in small amounts. Keep it to about 1/2 cup of cooked grain to every dozen muffins or pan of quick bread.