How to Cook Quinoa and Easy Recipe

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A couple of years ago, quinoa wasn’t even on my radar as a food that I would want to eat. Once I went gluten-free though, it became necessary to really explore foods that I hadn’t considered before and the absence of so many of my go-to carbs made this option seem rather appealing.

In all honesty, since changing my diet to gluten-free, it has become my favorite pantry staple that I have used to create delicious, protein-packed dishes that my whole family loves. However, please keep in mind that quinoa has “gluten-like” storage proteins that can mimic proteins found in wheat, barley and rye so it might now be the right choice for everyone.

Wild Oats thankfully offers a variety of delicious quinoa options that you can find on your local Walmart shelves. Today I want to share a little bit about what quinoa is and some tips for preparing it!

What is quinoa?

  • Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a gluten-free seed that originates from the Andean region of South America.
  • It’s a fantastic source of protein, fiber, vitamin B and iron and contains all eight amino acids.
  • Though smaller than rice, barley, farro and bulgur, quinoa looks like a grain thanks to its neutral coloring and hard exterior. In reality, it is a seed related to the spinach plant.
  • When cooked, it expands rapidly and significantly, becomes tender but chewy, and expels spirals that boast a slight crunch.

What does quinoa taste like?

After cooking quinoa in a liquid of your choice (water, chicken or vegetable broth), it becomes light, fluffy and nutty. I find the flavor similar to couscous and brown rice. It’s a taste difficult to describe, but worth trying simply for the nutritional benefits it offers.

How should I prepare quinoa?

Since I rely heavily upon prepping quinoa for weekly meals, I use a rice cooker because it’s reliable and hassle free. If you don’t have a rice cooker, it is a very inexpensive appliance that allows you to simply pour in ingredients and turn it on, freeing up time to create other dishes. I prefer using it because it allows me to easily double batch quinoa for the week and cooks it perfectly every time. (See how to use a rice cooker to prepare quinoa in the recipe below.)

Can I cook quinoa on the stovetop?

Yes! To cook it on the stove, measure two cups of liquid per cup of quinoa, and combine them in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a vigorous boil, and then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the quinoa is tender, but still chewy, and white spiral-like threads appear around each grain. This should take approximately 15 minutes.

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Check out my recipe for Pizza Quinoa Mushrooms.

Does plain quinoa taste good?

I don’t really love quinoa plain because it lacks a lot of flavor on its own, but I think it is a great building block for creating a variety of healthy, enjoyable dishes. I use it in my summer salads, as a protein-packed addition to a yogurt parfait, as a stuffing in my peppers, and I love to create patties with quinoa as a delicious meat-free substitute for a burger.  Consider this fun ingredient your building block, especially if you are eating a gluten-free diet.

Easy Rice Cooker Quinoa

How do I make it my rice cooker?

  • 1 cup Wild Oats Quinoa
  • 2 cups liquid (low-sodium chicken broth, low-sodium vegetable broth, or water)
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Using a fine mesh sieve rinse 1 cup of organic quinoa in cold water (Note: the brand pictured here does not require a rinse, but I wanted to show you how to do it if it does. Read the back of the box/bag to find out if rinsing is necessary).
  2. Pour rinsed quinoa into your rice cooker.
  3. Add your liquid and salt.
  4. Turn on your rice cooker. When the rice cooker beeps, you will have perfectly cooked quinoa (approximately fifteen minutes)
  5. Unplug the cooker. Allow quinoa to set for three to five minutes and then fluff with a fork.

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