How to Cook Quinoa — and some great ways to use it
Here’s a basic guide on how to cook quinoa, along with an array of easy recipes for this tasty, quick-cooking grain. Nutritious and versatile, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) is an ancient food indigenous to the South American Andes. Considered a “superfood” for its superior nutritional profile, it was revived for the American natural foods market in the 1980s.
Quinoa has more and higher quality protein than any other grain aside from amaranth. It’s also rich in minerals, B-vitamins, and vitamin E. Best of all, I appreciate the fact that quinoa cooks in a mere 15 minutes, and its fluffy texture and nutty flavor and aroma make it extremely versatile:
- Use it as a bed of grain for bean or vegetable dishes in place of rice
- Use it to make pilafs with nuts and dried fruits
- It’s great for stuffing vegetables
- Make tabbouleh-style salads with it. Add diced crisp vegetables, fresh tomatoes, and minced herbs. Toasted pine nuts add a delicious touch
- Just use it simply, as a nutrition-boosting side dish
Here are the basic cooking tips:
- Rinse the quinoa in a very fine sieve.
- Combine with water in a 2 to 1 ratio in a small saucepan (I usually do either 2 cups water to 1 cup quinoa, or 3 cups water to 1 1/2 cups quinoa, depending on how much I want to have at a given meal). Add a bouillon cube (I like Rapunzel salt-free vegan bouillon) for added flavor, if you’d like.
- Bring to a rapid simmer, then lower the heat and cover. Simmer gently until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
- Add Earth Balance margarine or a fragrant nut oil as desired and salt gently.
To this basic formula, I have sometimes added finely chopped steamed broccoli; toasted pine nuts; minced scallion; steamed frozen green peas; steamed frozen corn kernels; sauteed garlic; or any combination of two or three of these items.
Your basic quinoa grain is a kind of yellowish-tan, but red and black varieties are now available as well. They cook up the same way and taste pretty much the same as well; their appeal is mainly visual (the colorful kind costs a bit more, too).
Here are some quinoa recipes you’ll find on VegKitchen:
- Composed Quinoa Salad Platter
- Tabbouli-Style Quinoa and Black Bean Salad
- Mexican-Style Quinoa Salad
- Summery Quinoa Salad
- Summer Quinoa Salad
- Tabbouli with a Twist
- Tropical Quinoa with Black Beans
- Quinoa and Pink Bean Salad with Avocado and Jícama
- Simple Quinoa Pilaf with Peas and Almonds
- Quinoa and Corn Pilaf with Pine Nuts
- Red Quinoa Pilaf with Kale and Corn
- Simple Kale and Quinoa Pilaf
- Quinoa Pilaf
- Salsa Grain-and-Bean Pilaf
- Quinoa with Wild Mushrooms and Mixed Squashes
- Quinoa with Cauliflower, Cranberries, and Pine Nuts
- Smoky Quinoa with Mushrooms
- Quinoa with Edamame and Oranges
- Quinoa with Cabbage and Green Beans
- Miso-Ginger Red Beans with Quinoa and Broccoli
- Pink Bean, Quinoa, and Spinach Soup
- Quinoa Paella
Wraps and Such