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. 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.
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 nuts or seeds add a delicious touch.
- Just use it simply, as a nutrition-boosting side dish.
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; sautéed garlic; or any combination of two or three of these items.
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, Corn, and Bean Salad
- Quinoa with Corn and Scallions
- 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 and Seashell Noodle Pilaf
Heartier Quiona Dishes
- 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
- Quinoa and Mushroom Stuffed Peppers
- Chickpea and Quinoa Salad in Sweet Pepper Boats