You’ll notice in time, just how much I love quinoa (pronounced keen-wa). It is hands-down my favorite pantry staple. It can be substituted for rice and most other grains, including pasta and is so versatile in its application that it can be used in both savory and sweet recipes.
What is quinoa??
Technically, its a seed. Not only does it impart a deliciously nutty taste, it is a superfood. That’s right… this little seed is AWESOME! It is incredibly nutrient-rich and is a complete protein, in that it contains all 9 essential amino acids. It’s high in fiber, magnesium, calcium and iron. The best part of all, once it has been soaked (we will dish on that in a second), its a cinch to make! There are several varieties out there these days and most grocery stores carry one kind or another. The most common is the white variety, but you will often find red and black (or tricolor as noted in the photo below). The white variety imparts a softer texture whereas the red and black kind, give a slightly nuttier taste. I’m cool with all and you will ALWAYS find it in my pantry. There’s pre-rinsed and non rinsed (I always rinse regardless of what the package says- more on that in a bit).
To Soak or Not to Soak?
As with all my whole grains and in this case, pseudo-seeds, I soak quinoa in filtered water for approximately 8-10 hours (other whole grains need to soak longer). I totally know this made most of you wince. Now soaking isn’t integral to preparing any whole grains, you can simply just follow the box directions and rinse. However, the reason I choose to soak whole grains (and beans and nuts) is that they contain a naturally occurring chemical compound called phytic acid. Phytic acid can be bad news as it interferes with your body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients and minerals found in the grain, seed, bean, or nut. Soaking helps break down the phytic acid, thus allowing you to fully benefit from the nutritious properties found in these plant-based staples. Note, that once you soak, the quinoa, in this case, (whole grains etc too), you must rinse in well in filtered water and peace out that soaking water.
Okay, okay it’s been soaked. Cool. Can we cook it now???
Yes. Here are the steps to cooking perfect quinoa once soaked:
- Rinse the soaked quinoa under cold, running water until a soapy residue disappears from the grains. Do this in a strainer.
- Either dry in the strainer over some time or quickly add to a dry pan and warm until toasted through – it gives off a nutty flavor this way.
- I use a measure of 1 3/4 parts liquid : 1 part quinoa when cooking.
- If using 1 cup quinoa, bring 1 3/4 cup liquid to boil and then add quinoa. Reduce heat and cover.
- Simmer for 12-15 minutes. DON’T open cover. Turn off heat and let stand and additional 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve. I keep cooked quinoa in fridge no more than 4 days but I find it freezes nicely.