Tasty Tuesday: Quinoa 101
Cultivated in the Andes for over 5,000 years, quinoa has been called the “mother grain” and “the gold of the Incas.” Today, the popularity of quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is growing steadily as people discover its pleasant nutty taste and superfood qualities. As a complete protein source also high in iron, magnesium, and fiber, quinoa is not only one of our healthiest pantry staples, but also one that’s incredibly easy and quick to cook.
We’ve read that there are 1,800(!) varieties of quinoa, but just three main types are found in markets here: the most common white variety, as well as a red one and a black one. Here is our standard method for cooking any of these.
1. Measure and rinse quinoa. One cup of dried quinoa yields about 3 cups cooked. Measure out quinoa, place it in a fine-mesh strainer, rinse thoroughly with cool water, and drain. Rinsing removes quinoa’s natural coating, called saponin, which can make it taste bitter or soapy. Although boxed quinoa is often pre-rinsed, it doesn’t hurt to give the seeds an additional rinse at home.
2. Place quinoa in a small saucepan with liquid. Quinoa may be cooked in water or vegetable or meat stock. We use a 2:1 ratio – 2 cups liquid to 1 cup quinoa. Use a larger saucepan if you are cooking more than this basic amount.
3. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer over low heat. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. You should see tiny spirals (the germ) separating from and curling around the quinoa seeds. (see picture below)
4. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve. Some people like to add olive oil, butter, salt, or pepper. Cooked quinoa can also be used as the basis for pilafs, salads, breakfast porridges, and more.
Nutrition Facts, 1 cup cooked quinoa, 185g: 222 cal, 39g carb, 4g fat, 8g protein, 5g fiber, iron 15% DV, good source Vit E, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, estimated glycemic load 18
Quinoa Salad with Grapes
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 cup grapes
2 teaspoons fresh marjoram
2 tablespoons verjus
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
Rinse and drain quinoa in a fine strainer. Place quinoa and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy. Transfer quinoa to a bowl and cool at least to room temperature.
Toast almonds in a skillet until golden brown (watch them carefully and shake the pan; they will toast quickly!). Set aside to cool.
Cut grapes in half and coarsely chop the marjoram. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the verjus and grapeseed oil. Add salt and whisk to combine.
Once quinoa has cooled, add grapes, almonds, marjoram, and dressing. Toss to combine.
May be served at room temperature or chilled.
Have you cooked with quinoa before? What is your favorite recipe that includes quinoa?
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