April 27, 2010

Cooked Quinoa

 A super side dish to substitute for rice...

Quinoa is a grain (actually the seed of a plant) that is similar to white rice when cooked. Unlike white rice, quinoa is an excellent source of protein (it contains all essential amino acids), and it is also a great source of fiber. This gluten-free food has a mild nutty flavor and a soft and chewy texture.

Quinoa is pronounced like "KEEN-wah." It's available in many grocery stores. I found a large bag of it at Costco.
When I make Slow-Cooker Chicken & Sun-Dried Tomatoes or Pineapple Chicken, I serve it over quinoa. Talk about tasty--that combination tastes mind-bogglingly good.

When preparing quinoa, first rinse it with cold water in a strainer to remove bitter-tasting "saponins" that naturally coat the quinoa. Some quinoa is packaged pre-washed, but it's usually recommended to wash it again. I've found that the seeds all clump together when I rinse them (annoying), but I figure that running a constant stream of water through them in a strainer with very small holes should still do the trick.

When cooking the quinoa, use 1 part quinoa and 2 parts water--just like rice.

Sometimes, I use chicken broth instead of water for added flavor (really tasty). I usually make the broth by dissolving a chicken bouillon cube in water--1 cube for each cup of water.

I like toasting the quinoa before cooking it because I think it gives it a really special flavor and texture. It doesn't have to be toasted first, so if you're short on time, you can go straight to adding the water.

Cooked quinoa tastes delicious--and not only that, but it will beat white rice in a nutrition competition any day of the week.

Cooked Quinoa
Estimated preparation time: 45 minutes
Serves: 6 - 8 

  • 2 cups dry quinoa
  • 4 cups water (or chicken broth or vegetable stock)
  • 1 tablespoon butter


1. Rinse quinoa under cold water then shake out as much water as possible.
2. Transfer quinoa to a large saucepan and heat it over medium heat, while stirring with a spatula, for about 2 minutes.
3. After some of the leftover water (from rinsing the quinoa) has evaporated, add the butter and toast the quinoa (stirring often) until it's golden brown and makes a popping sound--this takes 10-15 minutes.
4. Carefully add the water or broth/stock to the pot. Stir.
5. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover it and simmer (stirring often) until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender--15-25 minutes.
 6. Serve it as a side dish, top it with the main course, or enjoy it plain.



Brianna said...

It's funny that you mentioned it's gluten free. Do you know someone with celiac? I'm excited about it. Thanks for posting.

abigail said...

You're welcome! I'd be interested to hear what you think of quinoa if you try it.
I don't know if this is a localized thing, but I'm hearing more and more people saying they're trying to eat more gluten-free foods. I don't know if it's because of IBS or Celiac or just because they heard it's a good thing....
Regardless, it's a tasty food for anybody. :)

scum said...

Tough to find quinoa in the supermarket - but finally discovered it in the baking items aisle next to the spices. Really tasty though!