How do you cook quinoa? I was recently asked. The answer is simple.
Easy. Fast. Rockin’.
I cook it in my best rice cooker.
In fact, quinoa is the easiest no-fuss “grain” you’ll ever cook. It’s healthy fast food. Cook up a batch ahead of time and you can stir up a fabulous light lunch (like the Lime Quinoa Salad with Mint) in a New York minute.
Well, maybe a Los Angeles minute. No wait.
A Venice Beach minute.
How to cook quinoa in a rice cooker:
1. Using a fine mesh sieve rinse 1 cup of organic quinoa in cold water. Drain.
2. Dump rinsed quinoa into your rice cooker.
3. Add 2 cups fresh water* see notes.
4. Turn on your rice cooker.
That’s it. In about fifteen minutes* you’ll have hot fluffy quinoa to play with.
Quinoa is rather bland on its own and loves flavor spikes. So add herbs etc. My favorite thing to do is stir-fry cooked quinoa with various seasonings- herbs, garlic, spices, onion, etc. I add in fresh veggies and whatever else I might have on hand.
Quinoa makes delicious and hearty pilaf, sprightly salads, or a warm and grainy side dish in place of rice. I’ve even used it to stuff cabbage, acorn squash, peppers and portobello mushroom caps.
For those of you without a rice cooker:
Add the cup of rinsed organic quinoa to a saucepan add 2 cups fresh water; bring to a boil, lower the heat to low; cover and simmer until cooked. Fluff with a fork.
Season while warm and use in salads or stuffing recipes, Store covered, in the fridge, for almost instant meals. Use within three days for best taste.
Start with 2 cups water in a rice cooker. At higher altitudes, use more water– 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups water. High altitude also requires a longer cooking time, generally.
If the quinoa turns out too crunchy or nubby you need to up the ratio of water to grain; start by adding another 1/4 cup liquid. I prefer my quinoa soft and tender, fluffed with a fork. Note- red and black quinoa may require extra water- especially if it turns out more crunchy than fluffy.
Sometimes I add broth to the liquid to boost the flavor of the quinoa- this works especially well when making a savory pilaf or winter quinoa with hearty flavors- onion, mushrooms, eggplant, etc. I don’t use broth in my lighter salad style quinoa dishes- but that’s my personal taste.
Why you might want to try quinoa…
Quinoa is very laid back and not full of itself at all.
It’s not upper crust or snobby, or ultra-cool and exclusive. I imagine Tony Bourdain hates it (he likes to mock vegetarians, you know, which spurs him to demonstrate just how much by eating blow fish, animal tongues and roasted insects on camera fresh from the writhing
snake blood tonic and chewing on various goat parts buried in a pit for two days).
If it were a movie, quinoa would star a flip-flop wearing Jeff Bridges and insist you call it Dude.
Or Duderino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.
Besides its worth-its-weight-in-gold gluten-free status, quinoa (sounds like: keen-wa) is a superb source of balanced vegetable protein (so important for vegans) that packs a nutty nutritional punch. It contains nine amino acids- making it a complete vegetable protein. Some call it a super grain (I always envision a blazing red Q and a windswept cape when the word super is touted- a testimony to my visual thinking process) but quinoa, I have to tell you is not a cereal grain, Bubela. It’s actually a seed from a plant family that includes beets and spinach.
That might- technically- make it a Super Faux Grain.
Or Faux Super Grain.
I know. It doesn’t have the same ring.
Do we care?