Have you jumped onto the quinoa bandwagon yet? While quinoa was once obscure and difficult-to-pronounce, today it rules as the darling of the health food aisle. The United Nations General Assembly went so far as to declare 2013 “International Year of Quinoa”!
And it’s easy to see why. Quinoa’s robust nutritional profile includes significant amounts of iron, magnesium and fiber, and the popular seed is a complete protein.
Then there’s the texture and the taste. It’s fluffy, soft and oh-so-satisfying. It’s also very easy to pair with a multitude of main dishes or to incorporate it into recipes, salads and sides. Quinoa truly is a wonderful staple to keep on hand in your kitchen.
My weekend routine includes making a big batch of quinoa to enjoy throughout the week.
Adding Flavor to Quinoa
The simplest, and subtlest, way to add flavor to your fluffy quinoa is by cooking it in broth, rather than in plain water. I do this every time that I’m preparing the quinoa for a savory dish. It’s also advisable to add ½ teaspoon of sea salt per 1 cup of uncooked quinoa, to enhance its natural flavor.
Other ways to liven up your quinoa…
Toast the uncooked quinoa before cooking. To do so simply heat a drizzle of olive oil in the pan first, add the uncooked quinoa, and stir often until the quinoa takes on a golden color. You’ll start to hear the quinoa occasionally popping once it’s done. Be sure not to go overboard by toasting until too much. Burnt quinoa isn’t great! Once the quinoa is nicely toasted, add the cooking liquid and continue cooking as normal.
Add a clove of smashed garlic when heating the olive oil. This will give the quinoa a lovely garlic flavor.
Add fresh, minced herbs when heating the olive oil. There are many variations of flavors that you could come up with using fresh herbs! Think about the dish that you plan to serve the quinoa with and choose complimenting herbs.
Add ¼ cup of finely chopped onion when heating the olive oil. Make sure to let the onion get nice and tender before adding the quinoa to the pot.
Sweeten things up by skipping the toasting step, using dairy-free milk as the cooking liquid, and adding a stick of cinnamon and a piece of vanilla bean to the pot. Serve this sweet quinoa as you would oatmeal, all doctored up with fresh fruit, chopped nuts and a sprinkle of coconut sugar.
How to Cook Quinoa
Here’s the quick and easy way to make flavorful, nutritious quinoa…
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa (any color variation)
- ½ teaspoon olive oil
- 2 cups broth or water
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Place the uncooked quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer. Rinse under cold water while swishing with your hands to remove the small amount of natural bitterness. Drain thoroughly.
- Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add the quinoa and toast, stirring often, until golden and dry, about 2 minutes.
- Add the broth (or water) and salt to the pan and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, cover, and simmer undisturbed for 15 minutes.
- Remove the pot from heat and let stand, without removing the lid, for 5 full minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the quinoa gently with a fork. Serve and enjoy!
Here are more nutritious and delicious recipes with Quinoa as the star ingredient…